Apple, grapefruit or orange … these fruit juices might still be the standard three at the breakfast buffet, but that’s where their popularity ends. Today’s health-savvy, label-reading consumer increasingly wants a glass of juice to be more than a refreshing dose of vitamin C.
For the past decade or so, traditional fruit juices have had a bad rap because of their inherent sugar content, said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation, Innova Market Insights, The Netherlands. Moms who previously filled sippy cups with juice now opt for water. Sports enthusiasts are choosing isotonics and protein drinks. Even vodka found a new mate with Red Bull.
“The whole juice category has been marred by the sugar debate; however, premium brands such as Innocent (Coca-Cola) and Tropicana (PepsiCo) have been able to limit losses by pursuing innovative products, new flavors and coconut water,” said Tim Haig, analyst at the U.K.-based market research firm Canadean.
To get consumers back to the fruit juice category, today’s innovators are adding value through both product and process. In terms of product, there’s more blending of fruits, including exotics and superfruits.
For example, Lawrenceville, N.J.-based iTi Tropicals Inc. has developed a number of juice and coconut water blends. Being largely neutral in flavor and color, coconut water blends well with tropical and non-tropical fruit juices, as well as vegetable juices and even plant extracts.
High in electrolytes, coconut water has become a common replenishing beverage for many sports enthusiasts. When combined with juice, the product has more mainstream appeal, especially since coconut water has a lower inherent sugar content, which helps keep total sugar and calorie content down.