Old Orchard Brands, Sparta, Mich., reports seeing a renewed consumer interest in the frozen juice category, which has experienced triple-digit sales growth amid COVID-19 pandemic buying, according to data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago. This information indicates consumers in the U.S. are buying frozen juices at the highest rate seen in years.

The reversal of trends marks a major change in buying habits, contradicting what the category has seen during the past two decades of steady declines. As states reopen and shopping behavior patterns continue to shift, sustained double-digit sales increases in frozen juice concentrates suggest longer-term stabilization and revitalization of the category, the company says.  

"While we have seen a tremendous spike in frozen juice sales over the past 12 weeks, we are optimistic that these levels will remain elevated as we move forward," said Kevin Miller, Old Orchard vice president of marketing, in a statement. "We understand much of the initial category growth is a result of consumers' 'panic buying', but the numbers have remained strong as stay-at-home orders have lifted, and restrictions have loosened. This leads us to believe that the frozen juice category, among others, has been reshaped by new consumer purchasing habits."

Consumers returning to the frozen juice concentrate aisle, or in some cases just discovering it, appreciate the value it offers compared with ready-to-drink varieties, and that they are naturally more sustainable due to the concentrate format and reduced shipping weight. Old Orchard is the only brand of frozen concentrates packed in a leak-proof, microwave-safe and earth friendly recyclable canister. Additionally, juices are preserved naturally in a frozen state, which aligns with consumer interest in minimally processed foods. 

The frozen juice category saw a surge of shoppers during the initial pandemic buying, with unit sales up 145 percent in mid-March over prior period, and a 111 percent increase in the number of households buying, Old Orchard reports. The boost in sales can be almost entirely attributed to more shoppers buying frozen juice, rather than stockpiling, as is being seen in other grocery and household categories, it adds.

The COVID-19 crisis might be prompting consumers to rediscover legacy or "comfort" brands according to a recent Mattson Insights & Strategy Team study. This data echoes the feeling Old Orchard juices have provided to consumers for more than 40 years.

Old Orchard's existing juice lineup spans more than 40 frozen concentrates and 60 bottled varieties of fruit juices and juice drinks.