CHICAGO — After being demonized for more than a decade because of an inherently high sugar content, fruit and vegetable juices are experiencing a renaissance due to advancements in new minimal processing technologies to preserve nutrients. Functional ingredients, flavorful blends and making juice an ingredient in the beverage rather than the base is motivating consumers to reach for liquefied fruits and vegetables once again.
When defined in terms of overall dollar sales and volume consumption, the market for juices has remained stagnant for years, with products such as ambient apple juice and refrigerated orange juice losing share to freshly squeezed and smoothie options.
|David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts|
“While consumers reject traditional juices, they are embracing new concepts with wildly innovative forms and flavors,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. “Many of the products achieving the highest growth rates are those riding the wave of trends and fads driven by juice bars and smoothie chains that have had a seemingly overnight impact on the tastes of health-obsessed juice consumers.
“As a result, the market for packaged fruit and vegetable juices has been upended. No longer do consumers need to frequent juice bars or natural and specialty gourmet retail channels to find novel blends and flavors. They only need to cruise the aisles and perimeter of their nearest supermarket to find a wide range of cutting-edge products such as exotic blends of fruit juices, unexpected combinations of fruit and vege-table juices, smoothies, coconut water, aloe vera juice, and juices made from mysterious, antioxidant-rich superfruits.”
Packaged Facts anticipates there will be continued efforts on the part of juice marketers to respond to consumer concerns about the high-sugar content of the products by introducing a broader array of low-calorie products based on alternatives to sugar. It also is expected that marketers will continue to innovate and launch new, premium, high-profit, better-for-you juice products that attract health-conscious millennials and baby boomers seeking out the latest flavor fad.
The fact that chefs and mixologists are embracing juices is contributing to a revival of the category. For example, earlier this year, Ricardo Murcia, mixologist at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, created a farm-fresh libations bar menu. Cold-pressed juices are the colorful ingredient in a number of top-shelf specialties.