Is “enhanced water” the new soda? SodaStream hopes so.
In the hopes of bringing back some positive fizz to its profit line, the Israel-based soda maker company is, according to the New York Times, developing a line of carbonated water flavors to complement its current soda varieties.
Starting in June, SodaStream owners will be able to add exotic flavorings such as pomegranate açaí and yuzu mandarin to their homemade soft drinks.
At first glance, as the Times noted, the reasons for this move seem purely economic. After the fiscal quarter ending last September, SodaStream announced that its overall sales fell 13 percent in 2014. Sales of the company’s soda machines in the United States dropped dramatically by 60 percent. And while sugary sodas become more stigmatized for health reasons in mainstream culture, sales of bottled flat water grew 11 percent last year and unflavored carbonated water grew 20 percent.
However, SodaStream still has other controversies to contend with. Last year, the company announced that it would relocate its largest factory after the building’s West Bank location made it a focus of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Reports of racism against the factory’s Palestinian workers surfaced, and several store chains across the world began boycotting SodaStream products. SodaStream’s celebrity “brand ambassador” Scarlett Johansson stood by the company, but was forced to resign from Oxfam International because of the charity’s position on Israel’s activity in the West Bank.
Time will tell whether the shift to carbonated water will catch on, but the contentious state of Israel-Palestinian relations may make the climb back to high profitability harder than it has to be.