Being a prognosticator is not an easy job - just ask the groundhog. But predicting what the future holds can be essential for beverage companies when they decide to launch new products. Beverage Industry’s 2011 New Product Development Survey allowed a random sample of respondents to take part in that prognostication.

The information that respondents provided gives good insight about how companies plan to proceed in 2011. One of the areas that survey-takers felt drove new product development in 2010 was consumer demand for natural, healthy and convenient products. Delving deeper into this information, respondents also touched on consumers’ priorities for low-calorie, low-sugar and low-fat products.

This information by respondents echoed similar thoughts that Garima Goel Lal, senior consumer analyst with Mintel International, Chicago, mentioned in relation to juice and juice drinks. Goel Lal says that Mintel sees the launching of low and no artificial juices among the top five claims of new products. Consumers think that 100 percent fruit juice should not have added sugar, she says, and to bring in more juice drinkers she has two suggestions for manufacturers: stop adding sugar and communicate that proposition to consumers.

Going in line with survey-takers thoughts that natural is a popular consumer demand, Goel Lal notes that juices that carry the 100 percent natural seal have shown some growth. Among the reasons for this growth, she cites that kids are a big consumer of the fruit juice segment and because natural does not carry a big price tag, parents might be more likely to find favor in natural products. BI