Thirst for profit

24/07/2012 - 10:19
Greater demand for juices and smoothies, which performed well in 2010, particularly in retail, have helped the steady growth of soft drinks overall. Sheila Eggleston reports

Two leading market analysts have given juices and smoothies a glowing forecast for future growth.
Keynote says the fruit juice sector weathered the storm of the recession and was worth £4.1bn in 2010, up 6% year on year – a great result following the 4.3% fall during 2009, which it believes was because people were tightening their purse strings in the tough economic environment and looking at cheaper alternatives to fruit juice.

It predicts the sector will experience a relatively stable period over the next five years. Year on year growth is predicted, with the rate of growth increasing next year for the London Olympics. In 2015, it estimates the value of the market to be worth a total of £5.33bn, with fruit juice remaining the largest sector in the industry.

Mintel says that while the bulk of juice consumption is at home, there are untapped opportunities in on the go consumption. It says the pure juice category should take greater advantage of the ‘convenient health’ positioning and widen its usage beyond being drunk at home. For example, on the go occasions such as the morning commute and as an alternative to alcoholic drinks.

With many customers looking for drinks that support healthier lifestyles, offering a range of fruit juices and smoothies can help drive sales. Consumers are increasingly aware of the healthy benefits of juice such as chilled variants and 100% NFC (not from concentrates) juices and nectars.
With a mix of interesting flavours, smoothies have been a significant impulse choice for consumers. While a tad pricier than juices, cafés see them as an important part of their menus.

For example, while the chain Tossed offers just a single juice – orange – it offers six smoothies from those containing berries, mango, citrus fruit and bananas to a peanut butter protein variant that contains peanut butter, protein shot, banana, yogurt and skimmed milk, and a power breakfast made with strawberries, honey, oats, yogurt and skimmed milk. All are virtually are fat free – a key attraction for health conscious consumers.

Leading player in the smoothie category is Innocent Drinks, now part of Coca-Cola which increased its stake in the business to 58% a year ago.

However last year it launched a range of NFC juices, which includes an orange juice – with bits and smooth, and an apple juice – available in a recyclable 330ml PET carafe into which it says it squeezes the equivalent of 11 juicy oranges and eight large apples. For operators looking for an eco friendly product, the carafe contains 25% recycled material, is easier for consumers to use and convenient to recycle.

The growing demand for healthy products at breakfast time is good news for cafés and coffee shops, according to Johnsons Juice Co, one of the leading suppliers in the freshly squeezed juice sector.

“Consumers today are looking for products that can offer natural health benefits as well as a great taste,” says category marketer Shirna Ferrers. “In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the content of our food and drink, and consumers rightly associate freshly squeezed juices with genuine goodness and minimal processing.”

Alongside this trend is an increasing demand for high quality, premium drinks, Ferrers adds. “While there has been a demand for lower priced drinks during the recession, consumers have continued to opt for quality drinks to provide excellent taste or as a treat,” she explains. “Our freshly squeezed orange juice fits into this category. It contains 100% fruit juice with no freezing or concentrates.”

Its handy resealable bottles also provide consumers with an on the move option, she adds.
“When consumers don’t have time to stop for breakfast, an orange juice quenches their thirst and, with all that vitamin C, gives the feeling that they have been good to themselves. Additionally, consumers are well aware that they should increase their fruit and vegetable intake, and a bottle of juice delivers one of their 5-a-day.”

New to the market is a range of all natural nectar fruit drinks with a “taste of Colombia”. With exotic sounding names such as Lulo, Guaná Bana and Mora, Euro-Colombian start up company Juna says they are set to be the new ‘must try’ fruit drink flavours in the UK beverage market.

Targeting the foodservice and retail sectors, the range includes interesting flavours such as Andean blackberry and mango, and is aimed at the more cosmopolitan and health conscious UK consumer. These variants are available in 250ml recyclable PET bottles.

Its entry into the UK market follows a successful launch in Germany last year, and since December 2011 Juna has been sold at eight Birley’s Sandwiches sites across the City and in Canary Wharf in London.

“Juna is about going for the new, the exciting, the exotic – satisfying the human need for variety and discovery,” says co-founder Christian Kaufholz. “We want to break away from the same old tones of apple, orange or banana, which form the basis of close to all fruit drinks which dominate the shelves today. Juna offers UK consumers something totally new.”

Through its drinks Juna also seeks to make a positive impact on the communities growing the fruit for its products, opening new markets for small farmers and their families in Colombia. For every bottle sold, 5p will go towards the Juna project to strengthen fruit grower associations in remote areas of the country.

Also new, following a successful launch of its freshly pressed juices into the retail sector, Coldpress Foods has made its debut in foodservice with seven variants made using locally sourced fruit.
Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Valencia orange, apple and lemon juice, apple and passion fruit, apple and raspberry, and apple and raspberry are available in 250ml, 750ml and a five litre ‘bag in a box’.

The company says the juices have a five month shelf life because they are produced by cold pasteurisation – high pressure processing (HPP) using cold water, which extends the length of time they can be stored.

HPP has been used for many years to preserve meat, cheese and other products, says the company, but it claims to be the first to use the process for juice. “For so long we have accepted what we have been given in apple and orange juice because that was all that was available but now that has changed thanks to HPP,” says managing director Andrew Gibb.

“For the trade we offer the opportunity of price premium and longer shelf life than flash pressurised juice. We want to shake up a dull category with a cool new brand based on product integrity.”

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