Not too long ago, thoughts of vegetable juice conjured images of bland liquids or something that was part of a Bloody Mary mix. However, in the past several years, offerings of vegetable juices have expanded, thus growing its appeal.
As explained by Vincent Birien, marketing manager for Diana Naturals, Congers, N.Y., 10 to 20 years ago a limited variety of vegetable juices was available.
“They weren’t as accepted back then as they are today,” he says. “And, vegetable juice concentrates weren’t as developed as they are today.”
Within the last handful of years, vegetable juices and concentrates have stepped it up with regard to their appeal. Today’s vegetable juices are no longer a tasteless chore insisted upon by moms everywhere. Instead, they’ve become flavorful and functional enhancements to the daily diet.
When it comes to vegetable consumption, the old rule of thumb called for vegetables to be part of a five-servings-a-day regimen in combination with fruits. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now suggests a variance regarding the amount one consumes of these good-for-you items. The new gauge is based on a person’s age, sex and amount of regular physical activity.
In order to get a healthful mixture of fruits and vegetables, the CDC suggests people eat a sampling from the color wheel. As the organization states, eating fruits and vegetables of different colors provides a wide range of valuable nutrients, such as fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
This color coding of sorts has been beneficial to the promotion of vegetables and, thus, vegetable juices. As Birien explains, many consumers have turned to vegetables juices as a way to add color to their diet.
“The color benefit is one of the main uses of vegetable juices,” he says. “There are some varieties which are really strong in color pigments, such as orange carrot, purple carrot, pumpkin and red bell pepper.” Other examples of colorful options include green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, yellow corn, purple plums, red watermelon and white onions.
Matter of taste
Although consumers might not be packing black bean juice in their lunch sacks or workout bags, these items have been incorporated as ingredients in other healthful beverages. Diana Naturals, for example, offers a variety of vegetable concentrates, such as bell pepper, pumpkin, red beet, spinach, broccoli and celery. These items offer a number of possibilities for use as ingredients in juice drinks and blends, the company says.
Similarly, Vegetable Juices Inc., Bedford Park, Ill., offers more than 50 types of vegetable juices and concentrates for use as ingredients. As the company explains, concentrates make it easier to add vegetable servings to juices. They also can be used as a natural source of sweetness or to reduce sodium content, Vegetable Juices says.
Maintaining healthfulness is one of the reasons people turn to vegetable juices as an additive in their diets. But, during the past several years, vegetable juice offerings have expanded. Today’s healthful blends include the flavors of butternut squash, chipotle peppers, roasted garlic, tomatillos and even fire-roasted tomatoes, suppliers say.
When it comes to mixing flavors with functions, Birien and Diana Naturals have noticed some interesting trends in vegetable juices.
“The most popular one is garlic for the benefits it has on the cardiovascular system,” Birien explains. “But, artichoke juices have become popular ingredients for their help with digestion.”
Much of the recent growth vegetable juices have experienced as ingredients is due to increased exposure of vegetables that are native to different countries and cuisines. As Birien explains, Diana Naturals works to develop a wider variety of vegetable juices, purees and concentrates based on trends from around the world.
However, with endless possibilities, not every blend is a sure attention grabber.
“We always consider specific tastes for savory and beverage applications,” Birien says. “For instance, a kale juice concentrate may fit a Japanese beverage profile, but it won’t necessarily have the same audience in the United States. However, a spinach juice concentrate would be more appropriate for the Western palate.”
As more vegetable blends enter the ingredient market, beverage-makers will benefit.
“It’s just the beginning, and we are very optimistic for the future,” Birien explains. “We will continue to discover great benefits and functionalities of veggie juices based on taste, natural color, health and nutrition.” BI