Keurigkold

Image source: Keurig Green Mountain.

When Keurig Green Mountain (NASDAQ:GMCR) stumbled out of the gate with the ludicrously priced Keurig Kold, it should have been a dinner bell for SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA).

After all, everything Keurig got right with its namesake coffee brewer -- a platform that championed the ability to make single cups of premium java at a discount to retail offerings -- it got wrong with Keurig Kold.

It's not convenient, for starters. The machine has to be on for a couple of hours to serve a refrigerated beverage. It's not cheap, either. Why pay $1.25 for an 8-ounce serving of Diet Coke when a larger can costs far less?

This should've been a slam dunk for SodaStream. Keurig Kold and its major soda partners were going to turn making soda at home fashionable, and there's the company that started it all with a product that's substantially cheaper.

Well, it seems as if the Israeli-based company is blowing it. In a case that can be best summed up as an ill-advised money grab, SodaStream's been putting out new syrup bottles that cost a lot more than the original flavor containers. 

Sodadiet

Source: SodaStream.

The new bottles look slick, but they make only 7 liters of soda -- or 29 servings. The original bottles packed enough syrupy goodness to crank out 12 liters, or 50 servings. The new bottles cost a little less than the older containers, but a on per-serving basis, the price goes up dramatically. 

Soda sippers are letting SodaStream have it. The online reviews have been brutal on leading e-tailers, and even SodaStream's own product page is a hub for unflattering perspectives. Our solar system has as many stars as a lot of the reviews do.

SodaStream would be able to overcome these one-star reviews if it was rocking, but it's not. Sales have been declining for several quarters, and it doesn't take a carbonator calculator to figure out that jacking up the cost of a sparkling beverage isn't going to make the machine more appealing.

What makes this even worse is that while SodaStream has patents protecting its soda makers and even its carbonators, concentrated soda flavors are ultimately just syrups. Anyone can market cheaper flavorings for sparkling beverages, and there are plenty of options out there. 

SodaStream's flavor sales were already lagging carbonator sales in recent quarters. A lot of this is the result of folks who are buying the starter system solely to make unflavored seltzer, but that's not going to help now that the syrups are more expensive. SodaStream had a chance to stand out as the thinking soda sipper's alternative to SodaStream, and now it just stands out for being greedy at the worst possible time.

 

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Keurig Green Mountain and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends Keurig Green Mountain. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.