Why are single serve drink packets sugar-free only?

While shopping last week, I noticed the single serve to go packets. I noticed they were labeled “low calorie” and were sugar free using either sucralose, aspartame or stevia. As I’m allergic to aspartame and find sucralose metallic, I bought a mango pineapple packet with stevia. I sure didn’t taste the fruit flavoring only a vaguely sweet taste. Why are these things available with sugar?

I know they’re trying to focus on the fitness angle and “sugar is bad,” but that cuts out half your market. “To go” doesn’t have to just mean the gym, it can mean my car and I just want something besides a soda.

Sugar is quite bulky compared to its substitutes.

They’d be too big with real sugar.

Yeah, check out the size difference between Kool Aid packets with sugar and without.

Sugar also is more difficult todissolve in cold water. It will, but it’s a pain compared to the instantness of substitutes.

Country Time Lemonade makes single-serve packets with sugar, but I think only one grocery store in my area carries them. I really don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners, so I always check to see if there are any sugar-sweetened options.

Because nine tenths of their target market is women on Weight Watchers who are struggling to drink all the water they are supposed to drink.

I am only partly kidding.

For the 2L packets, I would agree (at least that seems to be how Crystal Light is marketed).

However, for the “single-serves”, which I think are meant to go into 20-ounce/600ml water bottles, I think it’s more for the people who would normally carry a 600ml bottle of water with them, usually while exercising, and want something besides water but without calories (which would defeat the purpose of drinking water in the first place). If they wanted 600ml of a sugary drink, there are already plenty of options available.

Crystal Light has a “Pure” line that uses real sugar. The packets are about twice the size.


I have one of the big manufacturers of the stuff as a client.

There’s two reasons:

  1. As has already been pointed out, sugar’s a lot bulkier than artificial sweetener, and would require a substantially bigger package. (According to their web site, Crystal Light Pure, which RetroVertigo mentioned, uses Truvia, not sugar, btw.)

  2. There’s simply not a lot of demand. Most of the users of “sugared” soft drink mixes (like Kool-Aid and Country Time) are families with kids, and they go through it by the gallon. They aren’t, generally, looking for the “on the go” packets (which are more expensive, on a per-serving basis) when they drink so much of it.

In addition to all of the above, a major problem when packaging powdered things is keeping them away from moisture. Sugar sucks up water like nobody’s business, and makes powders containing it clump and recrystallize and do all kinds of other annoying things – think brown sugar. Artificial sweeteners, including sucralose, tend to not be hygroscopic, which eliminates the problem.

Also, not being food (i.e., not containing any calories of consequence), artificial sweeteners likely don’t have a problem with growing mold and other ickiness even if water does make its way into the packages.

Still, stores sell plenty of powdered drinks that do contain sugar (Nestle’s Quik, Kool-Aid, some lemonades, cocoas, iced teas, etc.) so I’m not sure why that would be a hurdle to packaging more of them in single-serve portions.

Canisters of Kwik and Kool-Aid don’t generally get jammed in your sports bag or the bottom of your coat pocket. Travel-food is usually subject to worse conditions than cabinet-food.

I’m sure the marketing reasons cited above are why most of them don’t have real sugar, but the fact that sugar doesn’t travel as well might have something to do with the fact that there don’t seem to be any at all.

I wish that someone made unsweetened single serve packs of iced tea. I assume there is little or no demand aside from me, though.

Actually, I’m with you on that. Unsweetened iced tea is my drink of choice but, heck, I can’t even find it in individual bottles or cans, let alone single-serve powdered packets.

Both Arizona and Honest Tea do.

I try to carry at least one unsweetened tea in my store since I always have customers looking for it.

I’m not sure about packets. I know Arizona makes a half and half lite in single serving packets but if you check in the Kool-aid section in your grocery store and/or the tea section you might be able to find something.

Good to know and I’ll keep an eye out, but I’ve looked among the Arizona offerings in my local stores and none of them carry unsweetened single-serves.

The tallboys (the tall plastic bottles) are somewhat new. Keep keeping an eye out and they might start showing up. If not, ask. If you shop at any smaller stores they may very well bring it in if you ask for it. If you took a case they’ll almost for sure bring it in for you. (24 to a case of Arizona BTW).

Also, I don’t know where you are or if Arizona uses more then one bottler, but if you ever get any tallboys and all labels fall off. That’s normal. I don’t know why, but Arizona hasn’t really mastered the art of keeping them on. It doesn’t mean they’ve been sitting around for months.

Most people buy unsweetened tea so that they can sweeten it themselves to their desired sweetness level, very few drink it completely unsweetened. With single servings, it’s unlikely that the customer has a source of sweetener nearby so this typically isn’t possible.