Whether fresh squeezed, shaken or bottled, lemonade is a favorite beverage of mine and apparently many consumers. The heat of the summer, and maybe even some nostalgia, make the tart and sweet beverage a refreshing thirst quencher.
This month’s Ingredient Spotlight on citrus flavors (page 56) highlights lemon not only as a stand-alone-favorite, but also as a preferred choice when blended with other flavors such as strawberry, raspberry and tea. With many consumers interested in natural products, more requests also are being made for lemon juice concentrates to be blended with cane sugar, says Bob Pinkerton, company director at Rocket Products, Fenton, Mo.
Beverage-formulators understand consumers’ desire for lemon flavors. Forty-one percent of respondents to Beverage Industry’s 2010 Product Development Survey said they used lemon flavors in their beverages last year.
Last month, New Leaf Brands Inc., Old Tappan, N.J., announced that it doubled production of its new lineup of lemonades, which have sold out for the second time since market introduction in April, it said. New Leaf’s line of four lemonades â€” Homemade, Black Cherry, Strawberry and Tiger, which is half lemonade and half tea â€” are made with 6 to 10 percent fruit juice and sweetened with organic cane sugar. The company said its Homemade Lemonade flavor was the No. 1 New Leaf beverage distributed by Manhattan Beer in the New York City metro area in June. Manhattan Beer attributed the lemonades’ success to a new marketing campaign and the summer heat.
Several more new lemonade products are hitting the shelves as well. This summer, Odwalla, a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Co., released Light Lemonade, which is sweetened with Truvia natural sweetener to offer 50 calories per serving. The lemonade is available in a 450-ml. plastic bottle. Last year, Coca-Cola’s Simply brand expanded its lemonade lineup with a Simply Lemonade with Raspberry. This spring, Honest Tea, Bethesda, Md., launched a Half Tea & Half Lemonade, a certified organic and Fair Trade beverage that joined its PET line of teas and thirst quenchers.
Other lemon flavored beverages got a makeover this year. R.W. Knudsen Family, Chico, Calif., reformulated its Spritzers line of all-natural fruit juices and sparkling waters, including a Jamaican Lemonade variety, with fewer calories by reducing the amount of filler juices. The sparkling juices also were repackaged in 10-ounce slim cans in four-packs. In addition, Izze Beverage, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, reformulated its low-calorie Izze Esque to include 25 percent fruit juice and sparkling water. A 12-ounce bottle of all-natural Izze Esque Limon now offers 50 calories.
Beverage companies’ seasonal offerings, new introductions and increased notice of consumers’ favorite flavor options are sure to keep people hydrated in the summer heat.