Note: I’m not being paid to do this. You can pay me if you’d like.
Launched in 2015, Sapsucker is a Canadian brand of sparkling tree water, flavoured and sold as an alternative to major brands, such as Bubly (Pepsi), Aha (Coke), and La Croix.
I’ve been meaning to try Sapsucker for a while; I enjoy sparkling water – more than almost anyone I know – and as such, am very open to trying new brands and flavours. I’m also a huge nerd, and decided to write an entire review on Sapsucker. I was gifted the green can “The Lime One” by a few good friends (thanks Ally & Jon)!
To start, let’s open the can:
On first sip, The Lime One tastes like… sparkling water. I truly do not know what I was expecting with “sparkling tree water”, but Sapsucker tastes very similar to every other sparkling water I have ever tasted. The most notable taste difference is that Sapsucker is smoother; while it definitely is carbonated (sparkling), the water is much less crisp than that of competitors. The Sapsucker definitely has more flavour overall than competitors, but definitely not as much flavour as I was expecting, given the amount of sugar in the can (more on this later).
The can feels great – maybe it’s the matte colour that I love so much, but I felt as though the feel of the can was more luxurious. Other than that, it’s… a can.
Each can of Sapsucker has 7g of sugar – precisely 7g of sugar more than almost (if not) all of their competitors. While the sugar level doesn’t bother me much, it may bother some people. Heavy drinkers of sparkling water (2-3 cans/day) could eclipse the total level of sugar found in a can of some sodas. That all being said, given that I would expect better flavour for the tradeoff in >0g of sugar, I would ultimately choose a Sapsucker competitor for this reason alone.
Now, for the biggest concern I have: price. Sapsucker can be bought directly from their store (shop.sipsapsucker.com/), at the price of $30 for 12 cans. Yes, you read that correctly. Per can, that comes out to $2.50 CAD. There are no quantity discounts either, it seems; a 24-can pack costs exactly double that of the 12-can pack, $60. Retailers, such as well.ca, sell cans for the same price.
In comparison, other sparkling water brands can be found at a price point of around $0.40-$1/serving. It’s possible to get even cheaper with in-home machines like SodaStream (Pepsi).
It appears Sapsucker is positioning itself as a luxury, high-end brand of “organic sparkling tree water” at a higher price point; however, its taste and quality does not match the premium being asked by the company for its product.
As a side note, Sapsucker has been invested in by Arlene Dickinson’s District Ventures Capital (portfolio) (news release), who is known for her time on Dragon’s Den. According to the DVC News Release, Sapsucker is led by former Coca-Cola VP Tim Lute, and “…experienced breakthrough sales and distribution in 2020.” It states the product is available in over 1000 Canadian retailers, and the company is “…passionate about producing sustainable products that are one-of-a-kind delicious and better for you.”
I was expecting to taste more maple given the “tree water” from Canadian maple trees – especially given the level of sugar in the cans. The flavour is good, but not enough to draw me away from other brands, especially given the price.
Given the current price point of the product, I can really only see myself purchasing Sapsucker cans once or twice a year – which, for the company, is not very sustainable in a market in which big players (Pepsi, Coca-Cola, etc.) have more marketing power, better distribution, and better name recognition.
The sparkling water market is big, getting bigger, and Sapsucker is a unique product in the area; time will tell if the company can sustain growth and launch new product lines to increase customer value, or if they will fade away. I think it’s important to note here that La Croix, once a very unique offering, based on my own observations, has had shelf space reduced thanks to launches by Pepsi and Coca-Cola (Bubly, and Aha, respectively). If that can happen to a brand as big as La Croix, one can only imagine what could happen to a brand as small as Sapsucker.