Juice-Makers Shift Focus

Juice-Makers Shift Focus
The low-carb ship has sailed and manufacturers move on to health-oriented consumers
Last year, the juice segment was bruised by the “low-carb” movement, which saw carb-conscious dieters shun juices in favor of lower sugar alternatives. Most major juice labels now have a line designed to appeal to low-carb dieters, but the low-carb bubble has burst.
“A large number of companies rushed products to market in order to meet this niche and many of those products suffered from poor quality and inflated pricing, and that's just not a good long-term strategy,” says Mark Saur, president, Old Orchard Brands, Sparta, Mich. “The consumer is smarter than that and retailers will need to make choices about which SKUs are performing and which aren’t. I definitely think you will see a majority of these products and upstarts go by the wayside during 2005.”
But juice manufacturers who committed to the low-carb movement are turning lemons into lemonade by tweaking their products to court not just the remaining carb-conscious consumers, but also those who have a general interest in good health. “A positive lasting effect of the low-carb diet has been increased consumer interest in eating healthy and making wise choices when it comes to their diets,” says Saur.
Old Orchard’s entire line of low-carb products has been re-launched under the name Healthy Balance because “they offer a healthy balance of carbs, calories and sugar,” according to Saur. The line has four Splenda-sweetened products — Cranberry Juice Cocktail, Cranberry Raspberry Juice Cocktail, Cranberry Grape Juice Cocktail and White Cranberry Juice Cocktail. Each juice is fortified with 130 percent of the daily value of vitamin C.
“Today’s consumers are definitely interested in health and wellness, and food and beverage products that provide meaningful benefits, whether that’s low-carb, low-fat, vitamin-enriched, 100-percent juice… whatever,” says Anne Hart, product manager, bottled, at Welch’s, Concord, Mass. “At the same time, consumers express a preference for products that taste good.
“Our focus has always been to deliver the options and variety consumers want, but to do so while always maintaining the quality and great taste of our products,” she adds. “We want consumers to enjoy the taste experience while also feeling good about what they’re drinking and what they’re buying for their families.”
Welch’s Light White Grape, Light Grape and Light White Grape Peach Juice Cocktails have 70 calories per serving and deliver vitamin C and 10 percent of the recommended daily intake for calcium. For those who may be especially conscious of their sugar, carbohydrate or caloric intake, Welch’s Light Juice Cocktails are sweetened with Splenda.
Old Orchard’s Saur says continued product innovation — packaging, flavor, variety or sizes — is the key to future growth in the juice segment. Old Orchard recently launched a line of nectars with bilingual labels, a line of certified organic juices, a line of 10-ounce single-serve drinks to expand consumption of products out-of-home, and a line of frozen drink blends in Margarita, Strawberry Daiquiri and Piña Colada flavors.
“Consumers today are also focused on convenience,” Hart says. “They want packaging that is easy to grip, that won’t spill [and] that’s portable. And if it has fun, contemporary graphics, so much the better.”
Value continues to be a high-ranking consumer concern. “Cost will always come into play, but what consumers are really looking for is value,” Hart says. “The purchasing decision ultimately depends on the perception of how well a product fulfills its promise and delivers the taste and nutritional benefits it says it will.”
Pomegranate juice boosts juice numbers
Overall, the refrigerated juices and juice drink category suffered a combined minimal, 2.5 percent decline since last year. The refrigerated juice subcategory turned in a solid performance with sales of $52.8 million, an increase of 172 percent. This success was due in large part to an exotic newer entry: pomegranate juice.
Pom Wonderful brand pomegranate juice was the year’s No. 1 brand at the top of Information Resources Inc.’s refrigerated juice category, pulling down sales of over $46 million — a whopping 345 percent sales increase since last year. Coming in a distant second was Odwalla with $2.4 million in sales.
Top brands of refrigerated orange juice
Tropicana Pure Premium$1,160,838,000-5.3%44.1%
Private label$408,815,800-13.2%15.5
Minute Maid Premium$407,749,700-15.3%15.5
Florida’s Natural$233,273,800-3.4%8.9
Simply Orange$150,807,10058.1%5.7
Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise$20,333,9104,992.4%0.8
Citrus World Donald Duck$18,005,580-6.7%0.7
Tropicana HealthY Heart$16,608,070417,287,963.3%0.6
Minute Maid Premium for Kids$15,628,7403,411.5%0.6
Category total$2,632,805,000-4.4%100.0
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise, excluding Wal-Mart,for the 52 weeks ending Nov. 28, 2004.
Top varieties of bottled juices
Apple juice$524,221,100-0.4%
Cranberry cocktail/juice drink$618,726,600-2.5%
Cranberry juice/juice blend$155,709,900-8.2%
Fruit drinks$722,495,4001.7%
Fruit juice blend$235,680,2000.6%
Grape juice$225,921,600-7.3%
Grapefruit juice$52,241,200-12.4%
Orange juice$29,041,880-31.5%
Tomato/vegetable juice/cocktail$290,271,700-1.3%
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise, excluding Wal-Mart, for the 52 weeks ending Nov. 28, 2004.

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