"The LaCroix brand has gone from bad to worse, to catastrophic in a relatively short time," said the Grand, with increased competition for similar drinks and "lack of meaningful or disturbing innovation" from the drink's owner, National Beverage.
American consumers are increasingly seeking drinks as has functional elements, such as nutritional value or a caffeine tube, according to the research company Mintel. They also want healthy, low sugar or sugar-free offerings. Sparkling water marks many of these boxes.
Retail sales of seltzer in the US more than doubled from 2013 to 2018, Mintel estimated.
LaCroix, with its retro brand and unique flavors, became an unlikely leader in the seltzer market. The brand has been around for almost three decades, owned by a relatively small company. But sales took off this decade, and LaCroix became one of the symbols of the millennial generation.
It didn't take long for the big drinkers to notice. The competition in the spark market has grown strongly in the last couple of years.
Due to LaCroix's New Competitors, the Grand said customers have "since discovered that other brands offer acceptable substitutions" and that "LaCroix does not have much to distinguish it from the competition in terms of intellectual property or added value."
"We really regret these results mentioned above," he said in a letter to the shareholders. "Negligence or lack of leadership or godless acts from God were not the causes – much of this was the result of injustice!"
The company has also not fully recovered from a class action filed in October 2018 on the ingredients of LaCroix, which the Grand Sa was the catalyst for LaCroix's sales.
In the lawsuit, a customer named Lenora Rice said she started drinking LaCroix in 2016 because she thought it had all natural ingredients. But Rice now claims that LaCroix has several synthetic compounds in it, including a chemical used to kill cockroaches, and claims that the company is misleading customers by claiming that LaCroix is 100% natural.
National Beverage has issued a number of statements that reject the claims since the lawsuit was filed.