Minute Maid has undergone a redesign that includes the brand's black-and-white logo with larger images of fruit.

Like in years past, this year many people made New Year’s resolutions to work out more and eat and drink healthier products. Although the year-long resolution can be challenging, juice and juice drink manufacturers recognized this “want-to-be-healthy” trend and innovated with more enhanced and functional products.

“I definitely think there is a trend in lower sugar varieties as more consumers are turning away from high sugar beverages,” says Alison Lipson, U.S. research analyst at Euromonitor International, Chicago. “A lot of smaller companies have introduced lower sugar juice and some organic juices, but also a lot of larger players too have expanded into that. Consumers are really looking for functional benefits in juice and also naturally healthy juices.”

According to Information Resources Inc., Chicago, refrigerated juice and juice drinks earned more than $4.4 billion for the 52 weeks ending Nov. 1, 2009, in supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandise outlets (excluding Wal-Mart). That number is down 1.3 percent from the previous year during the same period. Although refrigerated orange juice continues to be the leading juice with more than $2.6 billion in sales, the orange segment is down 4.1 percent.

Simply Orange, a brand of The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, is one of the only companies to increase sales. The company earned more than $387 million, an increase of 5.6 percent. Private label refrigerated orange juice brands also grew sales 4.9 percent, earning more than $463 million.

The Coca-Cola Co. is working to keep all its juice products top of mind these days. To address the growing healthy juice trend, the company introduced new enhanced Minute Maid juice products, and also redesigned the line.

“We identified juice and juice drinks as our No. 1 priority after soft drink beverages,” says Venkatesh Kini, The Coca-Cola Co.’s vice president of marketing global juice. “That’s driven by what we see as a tremendous growth opportunity in the category. The Minute Maid redesign is something we have been working on for nearly two years now.”

The new Minute Maid packaging includes the brand’s signature black-and-white logo mixed with larger images of fruit. The company photographed 46 different fruits to appear on the package in such a way that the Minute Maid brand can be recognized globally, Kini says. The new graphics also aim to bring a consistent look globally to the brand, he says.

The Minute Maid redesign is only the tip of the iceberg, Kini says. Coca-Cola believes the redesign will help its juice business grow, and will extend its leadership in the industry.

“Eventually other [juice] brands will share the same brand architecture, common global trademark, and they will look and feel like one brand wherever you go in the world,” Kini says.

In addition to the packaging redesign, Coca-Cola also introduced three Minute Maid Enhanced varieties in 12-ounce shrinkwrapped single-serve bottles. This month, Minute Maid Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100 Percent Juice Blend of Five Juices, Minute Maid Lemonade and Minute Maid Strawberry Kiwi Flavored Juice Drink were released nationwide.

“By launching our most popular varieties of the Minute Maid Enhanced Juice and Juice Drink line in a chilled single-serve bottle, we will continue to meet the needs of health-conscious consumers with a new, convenient package,” said Mike Saint John, president of Minute Maid business unit, in a statement.

In addition to the Minute Maid Enhanced line, Coca-Cola also released Odwalla Wholly Grain, a juice blend that contains 32 grams of whole grains from gluten-free brown rice as well as orange, pineapple and mango juices.

Fruitful and functional
Products with functional claims remain high on the list of consumed juice drinks, according to a January 2009 “Fruit Juice and Juice Drinks” report by Mintel International, Chicago. Last year’s new product introductions have reflected the consumer trend.

Naked Juice, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., added Naked Protein Zone Double Berry and Naked Protein Zone Mango to its line. Protein Zone Double Berry contains strawberries, blueberries, apples, banana and 30 grams of soy and whey protein per bottle. Protein Zone Mango also contains 30 grams of soy and whey protein per bottle. Both flavors are packaged in 15.2-ounce bottles.

Orlando, Fla.-based NBI Juiceworks also added a protein-fortified juice — Drenchers Fit ‘N Lean Power. Fit ‘N Lean Power is Orange-Crème flavored and provides 2 grams of lean protein per 8-ounce serving. The juice contains 20 calories per serving. It is available in shelf-stable 12-ounce and 64-ounce sizes. It also contains “Bodyguard,” the company’s fortification package of vitamins, amino acids, electrolytes and herbs. The fortifications include L-arginine, creatine, glutamine and vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12, A, C and E. 

Known for its apple juice products, Tree Top, Selah, Wash., introduced Trim, a beverage that provides a full fruit serving coupled with weight-management functionality. Each 8-ounce serving contains one serving of fruit, fiber and chromium to promote healthy metabolism, and L-carnitine to burn fat, the company says. The product is available in Strawberry Kiwi, Mango Peach and Pomegranate Blackberry flavors.

Healthy juices for children also are making their way into the beverage market.

“Part of the reason for the concern of parents is, again, the issue of childhood obesity,” Euromonitor’s Lipson says. “That’s why they are more aware of changes that need to be made, and they pay more attention to what their kids are eating and drinking. I think we will see a focus on healthier drinks for kids.”

Lipson also added that it is important for manufacturers, when adding vitamins or other fortifications to healthy kid juices, not to change the flavor or natural components of the juice. Consumers want juice to taste the way they expect it to, even with additional ingredients, she says.

One company that added new kid’s juices is Glendale, Calif.-based Nestle Juicy Juice. The company introduced Juicy Juice Brain Development and Juicy Juice Immunity. Both juice drinks are made with natural ingredients, and blended with filtered water to reduce the sugar and calorie content, the company says. Juicy Juice Brain Development is available in Grape and Apple flavors and fortified with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil. Juicy Juice Immunity comes in Apple and Berry varieties, and carries zinc, vitamin C and 3 grams per serving of prebiotic fiber. Juicy Juice Brain Development and Juicy Juice Immunity are packaged in 33.8-ounce Tetra Pak cartons.

“Consumers on their own have been mixing higher sugar juices with water to dilute them so that their kids are not having as much sugar,” Lipson says. “So rather than consumers doing that on their own, manufacturers are creating products that are already reduced in sugar so that it is just there for them, more convenient and save consumers’ time.”

Another big health trend in the juice and juice drink category is the use of zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia. The Coca-Cola Co. introduced a few new juice products with the zero-calorie sweetener. Odwalla Mojito Mambo juice drink with vitamins C and E, and Odwalla Pomegranate Strawberry juice drink with vitamins C and E, are sweetened with Truvia, Coca-Cola’s stevia-based sweetener, organic evaporated cane juice and fruit juices, and contain 50 calories per 8-ounce serving. Truvia is a zero-calorie sweetener that uses rebiana, which comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. In addition, the company added Odwalla Light Lemonade and Odwalla Light Limeade, and both combine juice with Truvia sweetener.

PepsiCo also added to its signature Tropicana line with a low-calorie variety. Trop50 is an orange juice with 50 percent less sugar and calories. Trop50 is sweetened with PureVia, a sweetener that uses a rebiana extract from the stevia plant. An 8-ounce serving of Trop50 contains 50 calories. The product is available in three varieties: Trop50 Pulp Free, Trop50 Some Pulp and Trop50 Pulp Free Calcium & Vitamin D.

Another company that introduced stevia-based juice products is Hansen’s Beverage Co., Corona, Calif. The company released Hansen’s Natural Lo-Cal Juices, which are available in Tropical Mangosteen, Acai Blueberry, Pomegranate Blackberry and Apple Raspberry flavors, all sweetened with Truvia.

As the number of juice products with zero-calorie sweeteners grows, Euromonitor’s Lipson anticipates seeing new products sweetened with alternative sweeteners such as stevia, agave syrup or agave nectar.

Superfruit sensation
In 2008, the trend was organic, but in 2009, juices containing superfruits led consumer trends, Lipson says. The interest in superfruits will continue into 2010 because of their inherent functional benefits, she adds. Although consumers can now recognize a juice containing superfruits, they may not understand the additional benefits, though, she says.

“People know superfruits are good for them, but they don’t know exactly what they do,” Lipson says. “A way to stay competitive is by providing information on what specific benefits a product provides, such as ‘This is anti-flammatory if you have arthritis.’”

Targeting consumers seeking superfruits, The Coca-Cola Co. released Odwalla Pink Poetry Superfood, which contains plum, dark sweet cherry, guava and other juices as well as hibiscus, cranberry, and green tea extracts. The product specifically is beneficial for women because of the C and E vitamins, iron and calcium, the company says.

PepsiCo added Naked Acai Machine, a product made from acai berries, purple plum and concord grapes. A 15.2-ounce bottle contains 178 acai berries along with their antioxidant benefits, the company says. The product also offers the antioxidant benefits of beet, black currant and elderberry, it says. Each bottle contains more than three servings of fruit.

A leader in organic beverages, Santa Cruz Organic, Orrville, Ohio, launched three superfruit juices: Blueberry Acai, Cranberry Goji and Pomegranate Black Currant. Blueberry Acai contains high levels of antioxidant anthyocyanins and flavonoids; Cranberry Goji contains 250 mg. of potassium per an 8-ounce serving; and Pomegranate Black Currant is made from organic apple, pomegranate and black currant concentrates, the company says. The juices are available in 32-ounce glass bottles. In addition, Santa Cruz Organic’s superfruit blends are produced with renewable energy from sources, including on-site solar energy and renewable energy certificate purchases.

R.W. Knudsen, Chico, Calif., added to its organic line with 8-ounce single-serve organic juices, including superfruit flavors, such as pomegranate and cranberry. All R.W. Knudsen’s flavors are made with 100 percent juice and are certified organic by Quality Assurance International.

A company known for its superfruit varieties, Sambazon, San Clemente, Calif., expanded its line of single-serve organic acai juices with Pomegranate Synergy and Rainforest Immunity. Pomegranate Synergy blends antioxidants; omega 3, 6 and 9 Fatty acids, fiber and protein; and Rainforest Immunity contains passionfruit, acerola, rose hips and 800 percent vitamin C per bottle. The juices are available in 10.5-ounce and 32-ounce bottles.

Superfruit juices can be a bit pricy at times, but even though the economy is still rebounding, consumers continue to purchase the products.

“There are some of the more premium products that are obviously priced higher,” Euromonitor’s Lipson says. “Now as the economy is starting to rebound, people are more willing to pay premium when they do believe there is a functional benefit. In the next year or two, consumers will become more willing to pay a premium for those juices.” BI