|Traded as||NASDAQ: SODA|
|Headquarters||Airport City, Israel|
|Products||Home Carbonation Systems|
|Revenue||US$ 436.32 million (2012)|
|Operating income||US$ 45.53 million (2012)|
|Net income||US$ 43.86 million (2012)|
SodaStream is the maker of a consumer home carbonation product. The device, like a soda syphon, carbonates water by adding carbon dioxide from a pressurized cylinder to create soda water (or carbonated water) to drink. The company also sells more than 100 types of concentrated syrups and flavourings to make carbonated drinks. After the company merged with Soda-Club in 1998, it was relaunched with an emphasis on healthier drinks. It went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in November 2010.
The SodaStream drinksmaker is a device that forces carbon dioxide (CO2) gas (stored under pressure in a cylinder) into water, making it fizzy. The product includes a machine, a carbon dioxide cylinder, and one or more reusable beverage bottles. The bottle, filled with water, is threaded onto the machine, and with a button push or two, compressed CO2 from the cylinder is injected, creating carbonated water. Varieties of concentrated syrups are available, to create regular or diet soft drinks by adding a small amount of concentrate to the bottle after carbonation.
Different flavours are created by adding fruit-flavoured concentrates. During its heyday, several famous brands were available in SodaStream concentrate form including Tizer, Fanta, Sunkist and Irn-Bru. SodaStream also offers diet concentrates sweetened with Splenda, and is used as much for plain sparkling water as for soft drinks. SodaStream and Kraft Foods entered into a partnership in January 2012 involving the use of the Crystal Light and Country Time brand flavours with the SodaStream home carbonation system. In July of the same year the two companies expanded their partnership to include the Kool-Aid flavour line. In 2013 SodaStream partnered with Ocean Spray to market three Ocean Spray flavours for use with the SodaStream home soda maker.
Excluding the initial purchase price of the machine, typical cost to the end user (2014, United States dollars) is 25 cents per litre of carbonated water generated plus another 50 cents per litre of pop for the soda syrup. Pricing in other countries may vary.
This often renders SodaStream pop more expensive than pre-mixed store brand colas, presumably due to the price of soda syrup in small retail quantities.
The forerunner of the machine, the "Apparatus for aerating liquids", was created in 1903 by Guy Hugh Gilbey of the London gin distillers, W & A Gilbey Ltd., and was sold to the upper classes (including the royal household). Flavoured concentrates such as cherry ciderette and sarsaparilla, were introduced in the 1920s, along with commercial carbonation machines, and the first machine for home carbonation of drinks was produced in 1955. The SodaStream was originally sold in the UK, and later spread to other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and Germany.
SodaStream machines were popular during the 1970s and 1980s in the UK, and are associated with nostalgia for that period. Their slogan, "Get busy with the fizzy", started as an advertising jingle in 1979 and proved so popular that they added it to their logo. The slogan was initially dropped in 1996 after 17 years, but was reinstated in 2010 along with a new marketing campaign in the UK.
Originally the company operated as a subsidiary of W & A Gilbey, Ltd. In 1985, after various changes of ownership, SodaStream became a wholly owned subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes, although it operated as an autonomous business within the group. In 1998 SodaStream was bought by Soda-Club, an Israeli company founded in 1991 by Peter Wiseburgh, who from 1978 to 1991 had been Israel's exclusive distributor for SodaStream, creating the world's largest home carbonation systems supplier. In 2003 Soda-Club closed the SodaStream factory in Peterborough, moving the company's gas cylinder refilling and refurbishment department to Germany. Under the ownership of Soda-Club, and with CEO Daniel Birnbaum at the helm since 2007, the brand has been relaunched in many markets, with new machines and new flavours available in 41 countries around the world. In 2012 SodaStream teamed with Yves Béhar to introduce SodaStream Source, a line of soda machines designed with a special emphasis on sustainability. Béhar's design earned SodaStream a Good Housekeeping Institute seal of approval in 2013.
2010 Nasdaq IPO
SodaStream International Ltd. went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in November 2010. The stock offering was jointly led by J.P. Morgan Securities and Deutsche Bank Securities. At the time, the IPO was the eighth largest for an Israeli company on the Nasdaq and during the year 2010 one of the top-performing IPOs generally. To celebrate SodaStream's listing on the Nasdaq, CEO Daniel Birnbaum was invited to ring the exchange's closing bell on 3 November 2010. By August 2011, SodaStream's market cap had risen from $367 million to $1.46 billion. During 2012, the stock experienced aggressive growth, with earnings per share growing 57%. In June 2013, Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist incorrectly predicted a two billion dollar Pepsi takeover of SodaStream, sending SODA stock initially higher before the rumours were promptly debunked by PepsiCo.
Analysts had expected another 27% growth in 2013 with earnings projected to grow 30% over the next 5 years. 2013's actual net earnings were down relative to 2012 despite an increase in sales; in 2014 the company's stock dropped to its lowest value since 2012. Barclays PLC analyst David Kaplan cited U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's warnings about the economic effects of boycotts and the company's failure to clarify the reasons for missed earning targets as causes for the drop.
Some 20% of households in Sweden owned SodaStream machines as of 2010. In January 2011, the company marked the sale of its millionth soda maker in the country. Europe accounts for 52% of SodaStream's sales.
SodaStream has been a publicly traded company since 2010. Since May 2012, SodaStream has been sold in over 2,900 Walmart locations in the United States. In June equity research firm Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. stated that SodaStream's machines were selling out at Walmart. SodaStream's U.S. sales grew from US$4.4 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2011. Despite record sales, profit margins are declining. SodaStream's estimated 2013 net income ($41.5 million on an annual revenue of $562 million in 2013, compared to 2012's $43.86 million of net income on $436.32 million of revenue) fell short of targets and investor expectations.
SodaStream competes with kitchen appliance makers Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach, as well as various smaller firms. Cuisinart first marketed its version of Primo Water's countertop Flavorstation in 2012; Hamilton Beach introduced its 85101 Fizzini Hand-held Carbonated Water Maker in August 2013. In some countries, Cuisinart distributes a version of the handheld SodaSparkle in addition to its own SMS-201 or SMS-216 counter-top soda carbonator.
The non-standard CO2 cartridges used by each of these rival vendors are not interchangeable. Soda syrups and concentrates may be obtained from any competing vendor.
The SodaStream counter-top beverage carbonators are typically bundled with a 14.5 ounce proprietary CO2 cylinder, which the company claims to be able to carbonate 60 litres (13 imp gal; 16 US gal) of water. A few selected models can also accept a 33 ounce cylinder advertised as carbonating 130 litres (29 imp gal; 34 US gal) of water. When a cylinder is empty, it must be returned to a SodaStream reseller for replacement.
The cylinders are proprietary and therefore not compatible with various pressurized carbon dioxide canisters which consumers refill inexpensively from local vendors for applications such as beer kegs, paintball, welding and fire extinguishers.
SodaStream claims that it does not sell the CO2 canisters to consumers, but instead "licenses" them and expressly limits how they can be used in their User License Certificate. Local CO2 vendors are generally not permitted to refill Sodastream canisters ("carbonators"), which include a proprietary valve designed to prevent refilling.
The intention to use the proprietary valve as an anti-competitive tactic is detailed in European Patent Application EP1382899, which states explicitly "One problem that may arise in the refilling of such containers is that of ensuring that the containers are only filled with the correct fluid and that the fluid is provided only from authorised sources. Current filling systems can be duplicated relatively easily thereby enabling the refilling of a container by another fluid and/or by non-authorised sources. A typical example are CO2 cylinders which are specially designed to fit into machines requiring gas pressure, e.g. for soda-making machines. Such machines for home use can generally be filled from any suitable CO2 source. Thus, the provider of the original containers cannot ensure that the users will only go to that provider when the user desires to refill the container."
These mechanisms effectively elevate the cost of refilling a tank to 10 to 20 times the going market rate.
According to SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, "We created a razor and a razor-blade business model. The razor is obviously the soda maker and we have three blades: the CO2 refills, the flavour syrups, and the bottles. So it's not a one-time sale -- the blades are our future revenue stream. We acquire users, build our installed base, and we cultivate those users for life."
In Sweden in 1984, carbonic acid supplier Sydbrand, primarily a supplier of fire equipment, was sued successfully by SodaStream for trademark infringement for refilling SodaStream-labelled CO2 canisters. In 2006, SodaStream lost a suit against the resale of its Alco2jet brand canisters on eBay on the grounds that the canisters were only lent, not sold.
Various products have been proposed by third-party vendors to address the high refill cost for consumables for these devices.
One option is the SodaStream machine to paintball tank adapter ("SodaMod"), which converts the CO2 fitting on a standard twelve-ounce paintball CO2 canister to allow that cylinder to be installed directly in the home soda carbonator. This standards-compliant container may be refilled inexpensively at sporting goods stores.
Another, the "Freedom Valve", is a mechanically compatible replacement valve for existing SodaStream cylinders which deliberately does not contain the proprietary patented anti-refill valve. Like the original pre-2008 SodaStream cylinder, there are no refill restrictions. With these, an additional adapter is needed to convert the SodaStream connector to one of the standard CO2 connectors for refilling.
Various third-party hoses and connectors can connect bulk CO2 cylinders. These tanks, physically too large to be mounted internally, are typically stored under kitchen countertops. Bulk tanks, commonly used for beer kegs or restaurant soda fountains, have also served as a CO2 source to refill smaller cylinders.
Syrups and concentrates
SodaStream advertises "100 flavours of the world", an assortment of syrups and concentrates which include "cola", "natural", "clear", "green tea", "ice tea", "isotonic", fruit, "local", "mixers" and "energy" drinks. The concentrates are packaged as 500mL bottles in which one capful suffices to flavour one litre of soda; 0.5L of concentrate makes 12L of pop.
SodaStream can only carbonate water, one litre at a time, in the supplied bottle – the concentrates are added after carbonated water is removed from the machine. This poses a limitation if one wishes to carbonate wine or fresh fruit juices.
There are no restrictions on obtaining soda syrup from competing vendors. Restaurant-standard 20 litre or 4.2 imperial gallons (5.0 US gal) "bag in box" soda fountain syrups are one means to obtain name-brand pop instead of SodaStream's generic brand. As these are not concentrates, the standard mix is five parts carbonated water to one part syrup. Fountain syrups are available from vendors such as Sams Club in the United States or from restaurant supply houses.
Users have experimented with various alternative flavours and syrups, including snow cone syrup, concentrates from real fruit juices, powdered drink mixes and home-made or supermarket concoctions. A few small independent vendors offer speciality flavours such as soft drink syrups with real cane sugar. A modern version of the "Hires Root Beer kit" unsweetened concentrate is distributed by the Hires Big H drive-in restaurant chain, but its users must add both sugar and carbonated water.
In its marketing, the company currently focuses on environmental attractiveness of using tap water and returnable gas cylinders. SodaStream has been involved in environmental projects, including waste reduction, beach cleanup and reforestation.
Americans alone dispose of 130 billion bottles and cans every year, and 340 billion beverage bottles and cans are not recycled every year worldwide. According to SodaStream, use of home carbonation systems reduces the amount of packaging waste from bottles and cans as well as the amount of pollution caused by the transport of bottled drinks. According to an analysis by Carbon Trust, SodaStream is 75 per cent less greenhouse gas intensive compared to generic colas sold in plastic (PET) bottles in the UK.
In 2011, SodaStream partnered with the Israel Union for Environmental Defense to launch a joint initiative promoting waste reduction and an improvement in the quality of tap water. Also in 2011, SodaStream launched a joint campaign together with Erin O'Connor to raise awareness to the effects of plastic bottle waste on the environment. As part of the company's support for Climate Week, in 2012 SodaStream donated £1,000 to a school in Crediton, Devon in the United Kingdom to fund an educational beach cleaning initiative. SodaStream partnered with Trees for the Future in 2012 to launch the Replant Our Planet initiative: for each home beverage carbonation system sold from its Rethink Your Soda product line, SodaStream committed to planting hundreds of thousands of trees in Brazil. SodaStream Italy and the Municipality of Venice partnered in 2012 to organize Join the Stream: fight the bottle, a cleanup initiative with its starting point at the Lido di Venezia. Actress Rosario Dawson launched the first annual Unbottle the World Day in New York City in July 2012. The campaign, initiated by SodaStream in order to raise awareness to the impact of cans and plastic bottles on the environment, calls on the United Nations to designate one day of the year a "Bottle Free Day."
In 2010 SodaStream launched an international campaign aimed at raising awareness of bottle and can consumption. The campaign involves the display of 9-cubic-metre cages in various countries, each containing 10,657 empty bottles and cans. Begun in Belgium, the Cage campaign has since visited 30 countries with the message that the waste produced by one family over the course of five years from beverage containers – 10,657 bottles and cans – can be replaced by a single SodaStream bottle. When a cage went on display in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2012, Coca-Cola demanded that SodaStream remove its products from the cages and threatened to sue SodaStream. SodaStream responded by dismissing the threats and announcing that it would display the cage outside Coca-Cola's headquarters in Atlanta.
A 30-second commercial promoting sustainability, showing soda bottles exploding each time a person makes a drink using a SodaStream machine, was banned in the United Kingdom in 2012. Clearcast, the organization that preapproves TV advertising in the UK, explained that they "thought it was a denigration of the bottled drinks market." The same ad, crafted by Alex Bogusky, ran in the United States, Sweden, Australia, and other countries. An appeal by SodaStream to reverse Clearcast's decision to censor the commercial was rejected. A similar advertisement, which featured a pair of Coca-Cola and Pepsi deliverymen reacting to the exploding bottles, was expected to air during Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013, but was rejected by CBS for its direct references to Coke and Pepsi. The previous SodaStream ad was shown in its place.
SodaStream has 13 production facilities worldwide. In, 2014, SodaStream's principal manufacturing facility in Mishor Adumim employed 1,300 workers, including 950 Arabs. In 2011, another plant opened in the Alon Tavor industrial zone near the Israeli city of Afula. A third plant, which began operating in 2011 in Ashkelon, produces SodaStream syrups and flavours. The cornerstone for a fourth plant was also laid at the Idan HaNegev Industrial Park north of Beersheba in 2011. In 2012, the Israeli government approved a grant to SodaStream for the construction of an NIS 130 million plant in the Idan haNegev industrial park near the predominantly Bedouin city of Rahat. The plant is expected to provide employment for around 1,000 workers, many of them Negev Bedouins.
The SodaStream controversy is part of an effort launched by Palestinians in 2005 to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian Territories, support full rights for Arab citizens of Israel and support the right of return for Palestinian refugees. SodaStream has been criticized for operating its primary manufacturing plant in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone, located inside Ma'ale Adumim, a settlement in the occupied West Bank and a Jerusalem suburb.
The Ma'ale Adumim settlement was established on land expropriated by Israel. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, the settlement (including the Mishor Adumim SodaStream factory), was built on land taken from five Palestinian towns and two Bedouin tribes evicted by the Israeli army. Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Ma'ale Adumim, are regarded by many as illegal under international law.
The European Union's highest court ruled in 2010 that SodaStream was not entitled to claim a "Made in Israel" exemption from EU customs payments for products manufactured in the West Bank because Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are outside the territorial scope of the EC-Israel Agreement.
Norway, Sweden and Finland have boycotted SodaStream products from the Mishor Adumim factory. According to SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, the boycott against SodaStream products manufactured in the West Bank had no impact on the growth rate of SodaStream, and that all SodaStream products sold in Norway, Sweden and Finland are manufactured in China, which he sarcastically called "The mother of human rights".
In January 2014 a Paris court ruled that Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), a group campaigning to remove SodaStream from stores, must compensate SodaStream €6500 because the group incorrectly claimed the products are sold "illegally and fraudulently" due to their use of the "Made in Israel" label while being partly manufactured in the West Bank.
Human Rights Watch has stated that "It is impossible to ignore the Israeli system of unlawful discrimination, land confiscation, natural resource theft, and forced displacement of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where SodaStream is located". The United Church of Canada launched a campaign to boycott SodaStream's products manufactured in the occupied West Bank.
In January 2014, Oxfam accepted American Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson's resignation as ambassador for that organisation, a role she had held for eight years, after she became a brand ambassador for SodaStream. Oxfam has stated that "businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support" and opposes all trade with the settlements citing their illegality under international law. Johansson reportedly resigned because of "a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement". In her statement she described SodaStream as "not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbours working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights." Birnbaum has also accused Oxfam of supporting the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel as a whole, a charge Oxfam denied, saying that "this is about trade from the settlements" and specific to settlements outside Israel's pre-1967 border. which Oxfam states, due to their location, pose an obstacle to any future two-state solution.
Birnbaum said that their factories are apolitical "We don't take sides in this conflict", adding that they are "building bridges between us and the Palestinian population, and we provide our Palestinian employees with respectable employment opportunities and an appropriate salary and benefits". SodaStream employs 500 West Bank Palestinians. Addressing the location of SodaStream's Ma'ale Adumim plant, Birnbaum said "we're here for historical reasons", the choice made by company founder Peter Weissburgh, back in the 1990s, long before SodaStream was taken over by the current owners, who appointed Birnbaum in 2007. Birnbaum said that factory presence here is now a reality, and he won't bow to political pressure to close it. "We will not throw our employees under the bus to promote anyone’s political agenda", he said, adding that he "just can't see how it would help the cause of the Palestinians if we fired them."
Supporters of the factories cite the West Bank's high unemployment rate and low GDP as evidence the jobs are badly needed. Opponents have argued that the small number of jobs provided by the factories in the settlements do not outweigh the effect the Israeli presence on the Palestinian economy. Others have argued that SodaStream is exploiting local cheap labour. Workers' incomes at the factory are substantially above the 1450 shekel/month Palestinian Authority minimum wage.
All but one of the Palestinian employees interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor have supported Johansson's stance and opposed a boycott of SodaStream stating that a boycott would only hurt them. One Palestinian employee at the factory said he felt ashamed to work for SodaStream and felt like a "slave" working on the assembly line for twelve hours a day. Another Palestinian employee in the West Bank plant, interviewed by Reuters, said that there was a lot of racism at the factory and that, "Most of the managers are Israeli, and West Bank employees feel they can't ask for pay rises or more benefits because they can be fired and easily replaced.
In July 2014, UK department store John Lewis removed all SodaStream products from its stores, amidst growing pressure from the public and declining sales. Its Oxford Street, London store has been the site of biweekly BDS protests against the sale of SodaStream products, and the company's operations in the occupied West Bank. Additionally, after two years of weekly BDS protests, SodaStream closed its Brighton store in July 2014.
In July 2014, Sodastream fired 60 Palestinians workers after they complained about not receiving sufficient food to break Ramadan fasts during night shifts (the company does not permit employees to bring their own food).
- SodaStream International Ltd.
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- Based on US $15 refill cost (as of 2014) at http://www.sodastreamusa.com/60L-Carbonators-C38.aspx for a CO2 cylinder rated by SodaStream to carbonate 60L of water.
- Based on US $5-7 for 500mL of concentrate, which flavours 12L of pop, per http://www.sodastreamusa.com/Sodamix-Flavors-C12.aspx - prices vary widely by flavour.
- As a point of comparison, the $5 US case of 24 twelve ounce cans of "Sam's Cola" is 58.8 cents/litre.
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- The Canadian-made Sodamistic is another direct competitor.
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- SodaStream publishes tank size based on an optimistic estimate of the amount of water that can be carbonated; other vendors indicate tank size by upper limit of weight of CO2. The "Sodastream 60L" (Genesis, Penguin and Crystal) is 14.5 oz, the "Sodastream 130L" (FountainJet, Edition 1, Dynamo and Fizz) is 33oz, the "Sodastream Pure" accepts only a 9oz tank. The various standard paintball tank sizes hold 9, 12, 20 or 24 ounces of CO2, per  and .
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-  is one such assortment of conversion adapters between SodaStream and standard connectors; there are others.
- CGA (Compressed Gas Association) pamphlet V-1, "Standard for Compressed Gas Cylinder Valve Outlet and Inlet Connections", contains standards for the CGA-320 fitting on commonly used bulk CO2 tanks.
- "100 flavours of the world", Sodastream, April 2012, printed chart packaged with the Sodastream appliance.
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