The plaintiff admitted harming the sparkling water brand in a signed letter of recantation.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 19, 2020
The Washington Post / Contributor/Getty Images

It was one of the biggest mysteries of the 2010s (remember those?): What the heck do they put in LaCroix that has zero calories but is still a natural flavoring? It’s easy to see why the sparkling water brand would want to remain mum on the answer: This secret was also the secret to their success. But the company’s unwillingness to address the question head-on also led to skeptics—and, even worse, lawsuits. But ironically enough, as quiet as LaCroix was about its ingredients, the brand was certainly outspoken in defending itself. And today, National Beverage Corp.—the makers of LaCroix—claimed a big victory.

National Beverage announced this morning that the company had received a “dismissal with prejudice and complete retraction of all of the allegations contained in a prior lawsuit which challenged LaCroix’s natural ingredient labeling.” Furthermore, National Beverage explains, “The plaintiff recanted the statements made in a sensationalized and widely-publicized press release issued by her counsel concurrent with the lawsuit that was filed.”

In a signed letter posted by National Beverage, plaintiff Lenora Rice and her attorneys write that the independent laboratory they had hired to test LaCroix “has since confirmed in writing and separately under oath that its testing could not, and did not, determine whether the ingredients were ‘synthetic’ and made no finding as to the source of the ingredients it identified.” “We do not dispute that those same ingredients can be derived naturally,” the letter continues and later states that while the lawsuit did not intend any harm, they “acknowledge harm was done.”

“This dismissal confirms our promise to demonstrate that these allegations had absolutely no merit and reaffirms that the company delivers a pure and innocent product,” a National Beverage spokesperson stated. “This is a vindication of National Beverage and confirms the assurances we gave to our loyal following of LaCroix consumers, our customers and our shareholders that this lawsuit was baseless.”

And yet, this latest revelation may be too little too late for the beloved LaCroix brand. Though still a top-selling brand, National Beverage has also watched as its moment in the sun has seemingly passed—a victim of its own success. Beyond the extra scrutiny, by making flavored sparkling water hip, LaCroix also began to see increased competition from companies like Pepsi whose Bubly brand has proved extremely successful and reportedly helped chip away at LaCroix’s market share. As a result, this past May, an analyst stated that LaCroix sales were “effectively in a free fall,” according to Bloomberg.

Just how much the Rice lawsuit harmed LaCroix sales will never be clear. The truth is that, regardless, the insane fervor surrounding LaCroix was likely unsustainable. So when all is said in done, this may be a case of winning the battle, but losing the war.

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