Coca-Cola is closing its juice and fruit smoothie brand Odwalla, citing changing consumer tastes.
In a statement to CNN Business, the president of Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid business unit, John Hackett, said “every effort” was made to support continued production. “This decision was not made lightly,” he said.
The closure will be completed by the end of the month. It will also entail 300 job cuts.
A spokesperson for the company said the move was not directly related to the COVID-19 crisis but that health-conscious consumers were less interested in smoothies than they used to be.
Coca-Cola “couldn’t make it work, we couldn’t figure out the cost-effectiveness of it,” the spokesperson said. “It really is the result of consumers changing what they want so rapidly. By freeing up those assets, we can reinvest those costs in what consumers want today.”
Coca-Cola is also discontinuing its fleet of 230 refrigerated delivery trucks used by Odwalla as well as its Fairlife and Simply brands, whose distribution will be redirected.
Coca-Cola acquired Odwalla in October 2001 for $181 million as part of a push into the non-carbonated premium drink market. However, sales of juice drinks have fallen amid to concerns their sugar content is connected to heart disease and obesity.
In 2015, Coca-Cola introduced new 15.2-ounce bottles made from clear PET as the popularity of cold-pressed drinks was rising. It also offered kombucha blend and zero sugar lines to update the brand.
U.S. consumers drank 5.2 gallons of fruit juice per capita in 2017, the lowest level since the USDA began recordkeeping in 1970.
“We’re focused on maximizing system efficiency by ruthlessly prioritizing to deliver on core [products] and key brands,” chief executive officer James Quincey said in an earnings call in April. “The less complexity there is in [the supply chain], the greater the chance for success.”