Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said during a fireside chat at the Beverage Digest Future Smarts conference in New York City on Monday that his company should have pushed into sparkling water "a lot sooner."

Sparkling water drinks like seltzer and club soda pulled in at least $2.2 billion in sales in the US in 2018. PepsiCo launched its sparkling water brand Bubly in February 2018 and then announced it would buy SodaStream later that year. Now, Coca-Cola is making meaningful strides in the sector with the March 2020 launch of Aha, a new sparkling water brand that includes some caffeinated flavors.

When asked whether his company waited too long for the launch, Quincey cited the company's existing sparkling water offerings such as Dasani Sparkling drinks, but then added, "We should have done it a lot sooner."

Coke's current sparkling water options include Topo Chico and Smartwater Sparkling. Sales of Coke North America's sparkling waters were up 27% in 2018, according to the company.

Quincey also said at the conference that one of his biggest regrets as CEO has been failing to move into certain areas quickly enough.

Aha will be Coca-Cola North America's first major brand launch in a decade and will replace Dasani Sparkling water in stores.

"I hope it's fantastically successful and we do well," Quincey said of the new launch.

"As the largest and fastest-growing part of the water business, mainstream flavored sparkling water is a segment we know we must double-down on," Celina Li, vice president of water for Coca-Cola North America, said in a company blog post in November . "AHA is our big-bet brand in this big-bet category."

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