Speaking yesterday at Wells Fargo Securities’ inaugural ‘Beverage Buzz’ conference call, organized by analyst and managing director Bonnie Herzog, Klock said parent Talking Rain was still confident Sparkling ICE could achieve $1bn in sales by 2018, from $10m in early 2010, where it currently plays in the $350-400m ballpark.
Sparkling ICE is a zero calorie beverage sweetened with sucralose and made with natural flavors, vitamins, antioxidants and lightly carbonated spring water.
Key to maintaining the brand’s “explosive growth”, Klock said, was its move to a direct store distribution (DSD) model from last year that will see it cover every US county this month – and a boost in convenience store (C-Store) volumes.
Referencing the diet soda decline – Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are all struggling – and speculation as to whether consumer distaste for artificial sweeteners could be partly to blame, Herzog asked Klock if Sparkling ICE was bucking that trend, since it uses non-natural sweetener sucralose?
Klock replied by referring to the “dilemma” of artificial versus natural sweeteners in beverages, and said Sparkling ICE had tried and failed to formulate drinks using stevia.