Consumer Reports found the beloved and beleaguered brand hadn’t filed the proper paperwork required by the state.

By Mike Pomranz
June 20, 2019

LaCroix — which not that long ago was the darling of the beverage world — has been facing plenty of adversity as of late. At the heart of the sparkling water brand’s problems is its biggest selling point: LaCroix boasts that it’s “a naturally essenced, 0 Calorie, 0 Sweetener, 0 Sodium beverage with nothing artificial.” It’s left many to wonder, Where does it get its flavor from then? LaCroix has been extremely protective of the answer — suspiciously enough so that it’s led to multiple lawsuits. Whether LaCroix is involved in anything unsavory has yet to be proven — and frankly, may not even have a cut and dry answer based on the ambiguity of terms like “natural” — but regardless, the brand’s hip factor bubble has apparently been burst, and Bloomberg reported last month that sales are in a “free fall.”

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In the midst of all of this, Consumer Reports has found another odd twist in the LaCroix saga: Apparently, the flavored sparkling water shouldn’t even be allowed to be sold in the state of Massachusetts with its current status.

Consumer Reports came to this conclusion while trying to solve the same mystery as everyone else: “What's in the popular sparkling water?” The publication decided to turn to Massachusetts because it's apparently one of the few states that require carbonated water companies to submit water-quality test results to obtain a sales permit. But — surprise, surprise — when Consumer Reports filed a public records request, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told them LaCroix hadn’t filed any of the required paperwork.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Health told Consumer Reports that, on June 4, it sent a notice to National Beverage, the makers of LaCroix, informing them that if they didn’t get the forms submitted they could face legal consequences. National Beverage, meanwhile, told CR that it got that request about a week later and “The Company intends to work with the Commonwealth to provide all requested information in a timely fashion.”

Honestly, missing some paperwork isn’t the end of the world. Keeping track of all the different rules across the country is complicated, and clearly Massachusetts didn’t care that much: LaCroix has been and still is being sold there. Still, this latest wrinkle in LaCroix’s story is potentially revealing in another way: Is it possible that with its explosive growth, maybe LaCroix’s biggest issue is that the brand is simply in a bit over its head?

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