A Healthy Glow


Consumers soak up the health benefits of juice and juice drinks

Health consciousness is in vogue these days. If consumers aren’t practicing it, they are at least talking about it, which has shined a spotlight on juice and juice drinks. Sales have increased in many juice categories that have made headlines for health benefits this year. From newcomers such as pomegranate to good news on citrus staples, juice and juice drinks are basking in a healthy glow.
“Consumption of juice may be up because of health benefits and people’s interest in whole, natural or fresh food,” says Gail Rampersaud, a registered dietician from the University of Florida affliated with the Florida Department of Citrus. “One hundred percent juice and other minimally processed healthy foods are gaining popularity. One benefit is the nutrient density, which means the amount of nutrients per calorie. Citrus juices and other popular juices have higher amounts of nutrients per calorie.”
Orange appeal
Orange juice had both good and bad headlines this year. Increases in prices due to citrus shortages attracted attention at the same time that health research boasted its benefits. Yet, with $2.6 billion in sales and only a 0.8 percent drop, the category hardly was struggling, according to data from Information Resources Inc., Chicago, for the year ending Dec. 3, 2006.
Refrigerated Orange Juice Sales by brand
TROPICANA PURE PREMIUM $1,090,051,000 3.0% 41.9%
PRIVATE LABEL $392,103,800 -6.2% 15.1%
MINUTE MAID $364,027,100 -8.5% 14.0%
FLORIDA’S NATURAL $236,520,800 -5.7% 9.1%
SIMPLY ORANGE $211,878,500 25.4% 8.1%
MINUTE MAID PREMIUM HEART WISE $29,670,410 4.6% 1.1%
CATEGORY TOTAL $2,601,031,000 -0.8% 100.0%
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise, excluding Wal-Mart for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 3, 2006.
Multiple hurricanes, compounded by drought, were blamed for Florida’s citrus shortages, which prompted PepsiCo Inc. to bolster prices on Tropicana and Dole orange juice by 4 to 8 percent. Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, also raised prices 9 to 11 percent for its Minute Maid and Simply Orange juice brands.
Though IRI data reflects some negative changes in brand sales, consumers do not seem to be shying away, which could be due to health news. Recently, citrus juice consumption has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk for oral cancer, colorectal adenomas, urinary stones and Alzheimer’s disease. This research news was publicized by the Florida Department of Citrus, Lakeland, Fla., in collaboration with the University of Florida, Gainesville. Together, the Florida teams reported the results of several studies showing beneficial effects from citrus juice consumption.
“What we see in the research is an interest in good or excellent sources of vitamin C, potassium and folate, and those studies bring up nutrients that are in citrus juices,” Rampersaud says. “In the future, we’ll see more information on the phytonutrients in orange and grapefruit juice.”
One of many phytonutrient compounds, polyphenols, were highlighted as the most beneficial compounds in a study on juice consumption and Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that those consuming fruit and vegetable juices at least three times per week had a 76 percent reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease than those drinking juice less than one time per week.
Where nutrients are concerned, new juices feature additional beneficial ingredients to increase consumption levels. Already on shelves are orange juices with added calcium and vitamins, new inclusions are plant sterols, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Minute Maid’s Heart Wise has 1 gram of plant sterols per 8-ounce serving for a cholesterol-lowering benefit. Also targeting heart health, Tropicana added omega-3 fatty acids to its Healthy Heart orange juice. The brand also introduced Pure Premium Essentials with Fiber. The variety offers 3 grams of fiber in every 8-ounce glass, which is as much fiber as a medium orange. According to Rampersaud, fiber is one of the missing nutrients when consuming juice rather than the fruit.  
Premium, organic grow
As consumers continue to demand more upscale, natural products, mainstream juice brands are answering the call. From the produce section to shelf stable, new premium and organic offerings are hitting shelves to answer the demand.
Tropicana joined produce-section juices, such as Pom Wonderful and Bolthouse Farms, last summer with its launch of Tropicana Pure Premium. Available in Pomegranate Blueberry, Mango Orange, Triple Berry and Valencia Orange, the 100 percent juices feature shapely packaging and a $3.79 for 1-liter price tag.
“We’ve been Starbuck’d and Panera’d,” said Jim McGinnis, vice president of marketing for Tropicana, in a statement. “That means consumers across many categories are trading up to higher quality and better taste, and Tropicana Pure will provide that enhanced juice experience.”
In addition, organic offerings grew with Tree Ripe, Old Orchard and Apple & Eve launching new organic juices. Johanna Foods Inc., Flemington, N.J., launched organic Tree Ripe Apple, Grape and Orange varieties this year. Old Orchard Brands, Sparta, Mich., added to its line of four organic juices with the new Peach Mango 100 percent juice. Apple & Eve, Roslyn, N.Y., now offers its Fruit Punch, 100 percent Apple and Grape juices in 200-ml. juice boxes, which complement its line of eight organic flavors, including Strawberry Mango Passion.
Rising stars
Many of last year’s new product launches debuted diet options, new pomegranate blends and more smoothies. In this area, well-known brands and new companies are creating trendy offerings.
The health benefits of juices do not exclude the category from calorie counters as multiple diet options hit shelves this year. Ocean Spray, Lakeville-Middleboro, Mass., introduced Diet Ocean Spray Juice Drinks this spring. With only 5 calories per 8-ounce serving, Cranberry Spray and the soon-to-debut Cranberry Grape varieties are positioned as an alternative to diet soda. Also new from Mott’s, Rye Brook, N.Y., is Mott’s Plus Light, which has half the calories and sugar of regular apple juice. Similar to the remainder of the Mott’s Plus line, the Apple Cranberry and Apple Blueberry varieties have 100 percent of daily recommended value of vitamin C, 20 percent vitamin D and 10 percent calcium. Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid brand also launched Just 10, a youth-aimed juice drink with 5 percent real fruit juice and 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin C.
Also adding value for the youth demographic, Tampico Beverages, Chicago, launched Tampico Plus in early 2006. The four varieties echo the company’s tropical appeal with added vitamins and less sugar than regular juice drinks. An 8-ounce glass of Citrus, Mango, Tropical and Kiwi Strawberry varieties has 25 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin D, which is the same as a glass of milk.
The health buzz on pomegranate, created by Pom Wonderful, Los Angeles, has inspired other companies to get in on the action. Zeigler’s, Campbell’s V.8 Fusion, Odwalla, Tropicana Pure Premium and Langer’s all introduced new pomegranate and pomegranate blend juices this year. Ocean Spray combined pomegranate with its famous cranberries for its newest 100 percent juice offering. The company’s Cranberry and Pomegranate has no added sugar and boasts a full daily value of vitamin C.
Refrigerated juice sales by variety
ORANGE JUICE $2,601,031,000 -0.8%
FRUIT DRINK $661,897,200 -3.7%
BLENDED FRUIT JUICE $226,860,500 9.3%
LEMONADE $152,007,400 30.7%
OTHER FRUIT JUICE $95,911,700 8.6%
GRAPEFRUIT JUICE $66,224,480 0.8%
CIDER $51,058,190 8.2%
FRUIT NECTAR $19,033,870 15.1%
CATEGORY TOTAL* $4,035,371,000 1.6%
* Includes categories not shown
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise, excluding Wal-Mart for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 3, 2006.
In 2006, IRI data shows the strongest category growth in juice and drink smoothies with a 52.4 percent increase in one year. Stocked in the produce section, Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., introduced a Blue Goodness Smoothie variety, capitalizing on the popularity of another antioxidant powerhouse — blueberries. Also adding to the “goodness” are blackberries, elderberries, apples and bananas for a smoothie high in antioxidants, fiber and B vitamins.
New to the category, e4b Fruit Purees give new meaning to “smooth” in smoothie. The uniquely packaged Fruit Purees are available in five varieties, including Pear Caramel and Blueberry Raspberry. Standing for “easy for busy,” the 100 percent fruit purees are available in flexible pouches with easy-close caps for on-the-go replenishment.
One of the major players in the smoothie category, Naked Juice Co., Azusa, Calif., was active this year with the launch of its new Energy line as well as three new varieties. The four varieties of the Energy line use the natural qualities of fruit, plus caffeine to fuel consumers. Also new to its lineup, is a Black Currant variety in the Well Being line and Purple and Gold Machine varieties in its Superfood line. The tropically inspired Gold Machine has 11 minerals and vitamins and boasts a cosmeceutical benefit.
Bottled shelf-stable juice sales by variety
FRUIT DRINKS $749,547,500 -4.8%
APPLE JUICE $507,174,000 -4.5%
FRUIT JUICE BLEND $310,048,400 23.8%
TOMATO/VEGETABLE JUICE $231,539,800 5.4%
GRAPE JUICE $218,351,200 0.9%
CRANBERRY JUICE/BLEND $154,668,000 4.5%
LEMONADE $120,743,200 -7.1%
PRUNE/FIG JUICE $85,028,380 6.2%
CIDER $77,226,810 2.5%
CATEGORY TOTAL* $3,520,514,000 1.6%
* Includes categories not shown
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise, excluding Wal-Mart for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 3, 2006.
The company also recently was purchased by PepsiCo, showing the growing importance of natural beverages. Naked Juice’s portfolio will continue to grow, says Rachel Kenney, spokesperson for Naked Juice.
“We have a couple of things up our sleeve,” she continues. “We’re very excited about innovative flavor profiles and perhaps a new line, but it all goes back to using the best bare naked fruits and matching our flavor profiles with what consumers want and including functional benefits.”
What’s the next pomegranate?
Following hot on the heels of the success of pomegranate juice, some companies are trying to spot the next trendy fruit juice. Tart is Smart cherry juices from TPG Enterprises, Othello, Wash., highlights the antioxidant levels and health benefits of cherries. Available in four cherry-based varieties, Tart is Smart has 17 antioxidants and is said to help joint health and enhance sleep. If tart isn’t appealing, Sundia Corp. offers Watermelon, Watermelon Pomegranate, Watermelon Blackberry and Watermelon Limeade juices. The 100 percent juices carry the American Heart Association’s heart healthy seal and contain high levels of lycopene. Acai is popping up as a flavor in new beverages and Sambazon, San Clemente, Calif., made it the star of its Purple Power, an organic acai smoothie. Purple Power is an acai and blue agave-flavored juice that followed the company’s summer launch of six organic acai-based smoothies. Also riding the health wave, is Sunsweet PlumSmart juice from Sunsweet Growers Inc., Yuba City, Calif. Tagged as “a nutritional powerhouse” the 100 percent juice contains fiber, magnesium, potassium and chicory root for increased digestive health benefits.