The combination of health benefits, sugar tax (designed to combat obesity), socialising, and ‘don’t-drink-and-drive’ messages means that the amount of healthy juice drinks sold annually will increase, especially around traditional celebration periods such as Christmas. The soft drinks market represents a great opportunity for vegetables and fruits suppliers.
Mintel’s latest report on Sport and Energy Drinks UK 2016 indicates that consumers now seem to be shy about buying high-sugar-content drinks. The research found that one in three Brits who drink sports and energy drinks would reduce their intake following price increases, while one in five said they would stop drinking sugary variations altogether. Some 48% of those questioned said they would seek alternatives such as fruit juice or smoothies. A considerable interest in product innovation has been using healthier ingredients; for example, 28% of participants in the study indicated they would be interested in cold-pressed juice. ‘Cold-pressed’ has become an increasingly popular label in the juice sector, with these ‘raw’ fruit juices and smoothies positioned by some operators as more nutritious than standard products due to not having been heat-processed; such drinks are appearing both within the soft drinks and the alcoholic sectors as attention turns to the revival of traditional styles as well as cold-pressed methods. One such cold-pressed juice company is Mello, with its range of melon juices. Some 25% expressed interest in products made with mineral water, and 22% in products containing pieces of fruit. Many participants also wanted to know the origin of the fruit ingredients and were prepared to pay more for energy drinks made with superfood ingredients.
An interesting option for non-drinkers are mocktails: these drinks replace the alcohol content of cocktails with other combinations of vegetable, fruit, and even tea-based drinks.
The long-time market leader, The Coca Cola Company brand Innocent, now sells more than 2 million 100% pure fruit and vegetable smoothies each week while newer players are exciting the market with much more complex mixes such as Itsu’s Raw Veg Cleanse smoothie.
The rise of vegetarian and vegan diets has resulted in an increase of green juices made with kale and spinach; the research points out that by incorporating more vegetables, juice makers can increase consumer perception of the health benefits of a drink.
Local flavours and ingredients are important to consumers seeking nostalgia, social responsibility, and transparency in soft drinks, while younger customers in their twenties are keen on complex flavours such as bitter, sour, and spicy.
For producers, the message is clear: consumers are even more interested about fruit and vegetable based drinks, while looking for innovation and style, so the potential growth (especially for artisanal products) is considerable.