Juices Are Getting an Overhaul

Less sugar, nothing artificial will keep customers returning.

January 14, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The word “juice” has traditionally conjured up the image of a tall glass of orange juice. But because traditional juices have a high-sugar content, consumers, who usually enjoy a morning glass of juice, are seeking lower-sugar options, reports BevIndustry.com.

“The overall fruit beverage marketplace has been declining for a number of years,” says Gary Hemphill, managing director of research at New York-based Beverage Marketing Corporation. “Three factors [that] have contributed to category softness are high sugar content, lack of meaningful innovation and comparatively high prices to other refreshment beverages.”

According to BMC’s 2019 report, “Fruit Beverages in the U.S. Through 2023: Market Essentials,” fruit beverages are the seventh-largest beverage category in the U.S. multiple beverage marketplace. The report states that the category’s market volume stood at 4.6%, which is down from the 5.3% it occupied in 2013.

Juice and juice drinks are not the only beverage categories that have been impacted by sugar reduction trends. “Fruit beverages have been a consistent decliner,” BMC’s report states. “CSDs have also declined in the past decade-plus, while others such as tea, milk and beer turned in negative performances in 2018.”

“Seemingly overnight, traditional beverage brands with poor ingredient quality and high sugar have fallen out of favor. We’re living through tremendous shifts in the way people eat and drink. People want quality product ingredients at a fair price, and the changing dynamics are now making their way into the spirits and mixers category,” said Tony Olson, chief executive officer of the Chicago-based wellness-focused data technology company SPINS.

Brand owners are innovating their portfolios to satisfy consumers' desire for less sugar. Boston-based Ocean Spray Cranberries, the agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 cranberry farmers, has announced the addition of three new unsweetened juices in its Ocean Spray Pure Fruit Juice portfolio that are being distributed throughout Walmart stores across the country this month. The Pure portfolio expansion represents the cooperative's continued focus on health and wellness. The juices contain no added sugars, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and are non-GMO.

In summer 2019, Juicy Juice, a brand of Harvest Hill Beverage of Stamford, Connecticut, also announced new better-for-you options to its portfolio: Fruitifuls Organic, Juicy Waters and Juicy Juice + Protein. Like all Juicy Juice products, these new offerings contain no added sugar, no high-fructose corn syrup and no artificial sweeteners.

Chicago-based Tampico Beverages recently launched its newest juice drink, Tampico ZERO, in two flavors. These offerings are an alternative drink using artificial sweeteners sucralose, acesulfame potassium and neotame to deliver sugar-free content, while still maintaining a sweet juice profile.

The juice category’s decline contrasts with the abundance of innovation in the functional beverage market. London-based Future Marketing Insights reports that, within the global juice/juice drinks market, zero-proof drinks or juice mixers account for approximately 1-1.5% of share, with the segment expected to demonstrate moderate growth.

For more on cold vault trends in packaged beverages, see the “Drinks Deluge" Category Close-Up in the May 2019 issue of NACS Magazine.