Coca-Cola is introducing several new drinks, including a lemonade version of Sprite and a tomato juice blend à la V8.
Sprite Lymonade – no, that's not a typo – blends the lemon-lime taste of the clear soda with lemonade, including 1 percent lemon juice. The drink – 220 calories for a 20-ounce bottle – doesn't come in a diet version, according to the company.
"Sparkling lemonade is a fast-growing category, mainly due to new entrants and innovation. Over the last 52 weeks the category has grown 136 percent," the Atlanta-based beverage giant said, explaining the logic behind the new flavor.
Minute Maid Tomato Juice Blend is the first 100 percent vegetable blend for Minute Maid, Coca-Cola said. In addition to tomato, it includes carrot, celery, cucumber and beet juices. Each 12-ounce bottle has 70 calories.
Both new beverages will go on sale in the first quarter of 2019.
Other new Coca-Cola drinks include:
- Zico Coco-Lixirs – blends of coconut water and cold-pressed juices. Three flavors: For Lemon’s Sake (organic coconut water, lemon juice, pineapple juice, ginger and turmeric); Unbe-leaf-able (coconut water, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, lemon, parsley and ginger) and Turn Up the Beet (coconut water, carrot, blueberry, apple, beet, lemon and baobob)
- Dunkin’ Donuts Shot in the Dark Coffee Espresso Blend – coffee mixed with cream, sugar and espresso. Three flavors: Caramel, mocha and vanilla
- Simply Smoothie – 100 percent fruit juices/purees with natural flavors. Three flavors: Strawberry banana, mango Pineapple and orchard berry
- Alkaline and antioxidant versions of Smartwater
What were traditionally soda companies now look beyond beverages to drive sales, because soda consumption isn't what it once was. Consumers are increasingly health conscious, so they opt for water, juices or drinks that claim to do more for you than just quench your thirst. Soda also faces sugary-drinks taxes in municipalities across the U.S.
In 2016, for the first time, Americans bought more bottled water than carbonated soft drinks – 12.8 billion gallons versus 12.4 billion gallons – according to Beverage Marketing, a research and consulting company.
"Big soda is panicking as soda sales go down, but it also is trying to meet the needs of a new consumer, who doesn’t want something carbonated or full of sugar or artificial colors," said Phil Lempert, founder of supermarketguru.com, a website tracking industry news. "They really have to start with blank page and say, 'What do people today want to drink?' Not everybody wants to drink bottled water, but they do have to have better nutritional profiles than what we’re seeing on soda."
He called Coca-Cola's expansion of its line-up "smart," but questioned if it was too late. He said Coca-Cola had been overly confident that its $4.1 billion acquisition of Vitaminwater maker Glaceau in 2007 would be enough to strengthen its position.
Unlike competitor PepsiCo, which has diversified into snack foods, Coca-Cola has remained focused on drinks.
In August, the company announced it was buying Costa Limited, a United-Kingdom-based competitor to Starbucks, for approximately $5.1 billion.
During its third-quarter earnings call on Tuesday, Coca-Cola said it wasn't looking to develop drinks made with cannabidiol, also known as CBD, which is found in marijuana
"We don't have any plans at this stage to get into this space," CEO James Quincey said.
This is a shift from the company's statement in mid-September that it was "closely watching" that market.
Coca-Cola reported adjusted net income from continuing operations of $2.47 billion or 58 cents per share, on net operating revenues of about $8.25 billion for the three months ending Sept. 28.
Refinitiv forecast net income of about $2.36 billion, earnings per share of 55 cents and revenues of more than $8.17 billion.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer