Odwalla smoothie maker is shutting down production this month

The premium smoothie brand was purchased by the soda maker in 2001.
Alameda, CA - Dec 18, 2019: Grocery store shelves with bottles of odwalla brand non GMO beverages in various flavors.; Shutterstock ID 1592590435; Purchase Order: -; Segment/Job: -; Client/Licensee: -
Alameda, CA - Dec 18, 2019: Grocery store shelves with bottles of odwalla brand non GMO beverages in various flavors.; Shutterstock ID 1592590435; Purchase Order: -; Segment/Job: -; Client/Licensee: -Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock
/ Source: TODAY

Coca-Cola Co. is shutting down its Odwalla juice and smoothie brand as sales have continued to decline while consumer preferences have shifted away from drinks laden with sugar over the past several years.

"Given a rapidly shifting marketplace and despite every effort to support continued production and delivery services, The Coca-Cola Company has made the decision to discontinue the Odwalla brand and its products and to dissolve the chilled Direct Store Delivery (DSD) distribution network after July 31, 2020," a Coca-Cola spokesperson told TODAY Food via email.

"This decision was not made lightly and comes at a time when it is more important than ever to evaluate where we can improve efficiencies in our business and operations," the spokesperson continued. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal Thursday.

The dissolution of the brand marks the end of an era for Odwalla, which has been around since 1980 when it was founded in Santa Cruz, California. Coca-Cola purchased the company for $181 million in October 2001 to diversify its offerings and compete with PepsiCo, which took a majority stake in SoBe's fruit and tea drinks in 2000 and also acquired Gatorade via its acquisition of Quaker Oats.

With the Coca-Cola marketing machine behind it, Odwalla enjoyed a wave of success in the early 2000s as more people became focused on eating fresh fruits and vegetables. The brand also branched out into the snack market in the late 1990s with the release of several energy bars. However, while the smoothies and juices are packed with real fruits and vegetables, the brand's offering were often criticized since, per serving, many of the beverages boasted a higher sugar content than soda.

A bottle of the brand's Original Superfood green smoothie has 50 grams of sugar, while the Mango Tango smoothie has 58 grams of sugar. A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola classic has 39 grams of sugar and 140 calories. Some of Odwalla's protein shakes are also filled with as much sugar as most popular candy bars. The strawberry protein shake has 32 grams of sugar, while the chai vanilla protein flavor has 32 grams of sugar.

Recently, Coca-Cola has tried to compete with the fruit-flavored sparkling water craze sparked by LaCroix. Diet Coke unveiled four new fruit flavors in 2018. Last year, the brand debuted two more flavors: Strawberry Guava and Blueberry Acai.

In February, Coca-Cola announced a new line of canned sparkling waters under the brand name AHA, going head-to-head with Pepsi's Bubly seltzers.

Retailers will receive their final Odwalla shipments by the end of July and any unpurchased inventory will be picked up at the end of August, according to Coca-Cola. The closure of Odwalla is expected to affect as many as 300 jobs.