More details about the new product will be released in the coming months, said Coca-Cola, but for now the company is keeping its counsel both as to the formulation of Minute Maid Sparkling and the reasons why fruitwater (which doesn't contain any fruit or fruit juice) did not resonate with consumers.
A spokeswoman told FoodNavigator-USA: "fruitwater will be replaced by Minute Maid Sparkling. It will offer a unique proposition to the category with the great taste that consumers expect from the Minute Maid brand and 6% juice content. Minute Maid Sparkling officially launches in March 2016."
fruitwater has not managed to emulate the success of Sparkling ICE
fruitwater - a zero-calorie fruit-flavored sparkling water sweetened with sucralose - was relaunched in 2013 in a distinctive 16.9oz slim bottle, but failed to emulate the success of market leader and runaway success story Sparkling ICE, which was generating retail sales of just $10m in 2010 and is now generating well over $500m.
fruitwater was refreshed in 2014 with a new bottle and a new marketing campaign featuring Christina Applegate, but failed to gain any real traction in the marketplace, Sparkling ICE boss Kevin Klock told us earlier this year.
"We are the #1 player in our category. The #2 and #3 players are both in decline. Fruitwater [Coca-Cola] is in a state of double-digit decline and the next biggest player in measured channels - Cascade Ice - is also in a state of decline. And Aquafina Flavor Splash [PepsiCo] is pretty much out of the market now."
Asked to comment on the news that Coca-Cola has decided to drop fruitwater, Klock told us this week: "This just continues to validate that Sparkling ICE is hitting on a core need of the consumer."
Euromonitor: The success of Sparkling ICE really caught the big players in the category by surprise
Howard Telford, senior beverages analyst at Euromonitor International, told FoodNavigator-USA that he wasn't surprised by the move to ditch fruitwater, adding:
"I don’t think that Glacéau was really the best banner under which to launch a ‘natural’ or low-cal flavored water product. I think the success of Sparkling ICE really caught the big players in the category by surprise – the consumer may perceive the product as a water, or at least a healthier alternative to traditional low-cal carbonated soft drinks, and I don’t think fruitwater was really able to muscle in on that positioning or consumer group.
"Vitaminwater is perceived as a functional beverage, but not really a better-for-you beverage, and I'm not sure that fruitwater was able to distinguish itself from that brand. fruitwater was another example of playing catch-up with existing brands. Dasani Sparkling now looks a lot more like another big hit, La Croix."
So will Minute Maid Sparkling be more successful?
Said Telford: "I think that brand may have a bit more appeal as a natural alternative. But aside from the price point, which has stayed competitive, one of the big selling points for Sparkling ICE is the zero calorie appeal. A 6% juice drink seems like a different product,but I will be interested to see what sort of flavors they try."