Malynnda Littky-Porath

Macy’s is right to dump SodaStream

Because sometimes the simplest explanation isn't anti-Semitism

Almost two years ago, while I was still living in a village near Jerusalem, a former co-worker who was moving back to the States for grad school was selling off his belongings. I agreed to purchase his SodaStream carbonation machine, because all of my friends were raving about how cool it was to make your own soft drinks, and how much money they were saving, but the price of the unit was significant enough that I hadn’t been willing to commit without a second hand discount.

We met to settle up, and he gave me a brief guide as to all the tips and tricks necessary to create my own liter full of carbonated beverage. He even threw his unused syrup to get me started. I went home excited to try out my new purchase, and at first it was entertaining. Mixing the syrup with the water in the correct order and ratio was as close to becoming a mixologist as I had ever been. This feeling of excitement lasted until all of my samples ran out and I had to go back to the store and restock.

Compared to the vast number of flavors in the prepared soda aisle, the SodaStream flavor selection was much more constrained, and I also knew from experimenting with the samples I had been given that some of the flavors were pretty horrid. The combined cost of syrup, gas bottles, and water is indeed about half the cost of Coke or Pepsi. But how much does Coke and Pepsi cost, anyway? You have to be drinking an awful lot of soda to recoup the cost of the machine AND notice any significant ongoing dent reduction in your pocketbook.

Plus my time has a value. Filling the bottles, buying and adding the syrup and carbonation, and especially cleaning the bottles is labor intensive, and not really worth it unless the resulting drink is of premium quality. And Jones Soda, SodaStream ain’t. All of this led to my using my SodaStream less and less, until I eventually realized I hadn’t used my machine in the past year. It’s currently laying dusty and unused in the back of my car. We didn’t even bother to bring it into the apartment when we moved to Hadera.

Based on this personal experience, I was skeptical when friends began reposting angry diatribes against Macy’s for deciding not to stock SodaStream products. Claims have been made that Macy’s is either anti-Semitic or suffers from a lack of backbone. However, given that Macy’s is facing falling revenues, and missed their last quarterly earnings estimates, I suspect that the removal of SodaStream products is almost assuredly to make way for more popular items that will be able to earn their spots on the shelves.

Keep in mind that Macy’s still stocks Ahava Dead Sea products, which are a much bigger thorn than SodaStream in the BDS movement’s side. Additionally, a large scale boycott campaign was launched against Macy’s for their relationship with real estate mogul Donald Trump, and his clothing and accessories line is still heavily featured in the department store chain’s merchandising.

Even SodaStream has brought up the weakening demand for their machines, noting that they had not succeeded in “attracting new consumers to our home carbonation system at the rate we believe should be achieved.” To combat this, and to stem possible loss of market share from the entry of a new player into the do-it-yourself soda market (a joint project between Coca Cola and Keurig), SodaStream plans to focus on more healthy drink options, and also has signed an agreement to offer Pepsico products.

A similar hysterical response was heard after the announcement of a plant under construction in the Negev. Headlines from right leaning media organizations read “BDS Victory May See 900 Palestinians Out Of A Job!” To me, this seems to be emblematic of a poor understanding of math.

Moving 900 jobs from the West Bank to the Negev means 900 more jobs for Israeli citizens, helping a region, and more specifically, a population of Bedouins which have suffered from chronic unemployment. And the move was prompted by a $16 million subsidy from the Israeli government, who, unsurprisingly, would rather have a company paying wages to its citizens.

And so petitions aside, as a country which has been subjected to a boycott movement which has spun out of control, perhaps we should look more carefully into the circumstances behind economic decisions which negatively impact Israeli companies. Despite our “start-up nation” appellation, not every Israeli company deserves 100% support in perpetuity (Better Place, anyone?). A basic review of the circumstances in this case shows that Macy’s was right to dump SodaStream.

About the Author
Malynnda Littky made aliyah to Israel with her family in 2007 from Oak Park, Michigan. Her recent stay in Paris, enjoying both medical tourism and her new status as the trophy wife of a research economist, has renewed her love for Israel, despite arriving just in time to enjoy several weeks of lockdown.