Coca-Cola Company subsidiary Odwalla is launching its first ever organic vegetable and fruit juice line in the US, as it seeks to tap renewed growth in the segment, and has secured USDA Organic Seal approval for the products.
Odwalla said in a statement that it was branching out and expanding on its popular Organic Carrot Juice product with a new line of United States Department of Agriculture-approved organic blends.
There are three new Odwalla Garden Organics flavours: Carrot Beet Ginger, Carrot Apple Berry and Carrot Apple Mango, all not-from-concentrate, gluten-free and suitable for vegans.
Product packaging features Odwalla’s familiar bright colors, but the company said that product labels featured a more handcrafted feel and appearance.
Nationwide US launch
The juices will be launched at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide today, and will be available across the US in natural food stores, selected supermarkets and specialty stores from October 1.
Odwalla said that each Garden Organics juice contained up to three servings of fruit and vegetables per 12oz serving, and was packaged in the firm’s breakthrough PlantBottle packaging, produced from up to 100% of plant-based materials.
Irma Shrivastava, vice president of marketing, Odwalla, said: "Odwalla Garden Organics will be a great solution for people who are looking for high-quality, great-tasting beverages that offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.
"From the organic ingredients inside the bottle to the materials that make the bottle itself, Odwalla Garden Organics are the embodiment of true goodness."
Category briefing data shared with BeverageDaily.com by Euromonitor International shows that, due to higher unit prices than standard counterparts, US consumers could not justify spending extra on organic beverages during the economic downturn, with sales falling 12% between 2007 and 2009.
But as the US economy slowly recovered, so did spending on organic beverages, Euromonitor said, with value sales up 4% to $693m in 2010, albeit with growth rates lower than those seen before 2007, and major juice brands (Tropicana, Ocean Spray) yet to return to the market.
Nonetheless, Odwalla hopes to tap a growth trend that saw US retail value of organic fruit/vegetable juice increase in 2010 to $329.9m, according to Euromonitor's latest data, up from $323.1m in 2009 but still down on 2008 ($343m).
"While USDA organic certification does not necessarily mean the product is safer or healthier, consumers often associate certification with those attributes," the research firm explained.
Do consumers get organics?
Euromonitor added that higher prices for organic products tended to be accepted by US consumers, due to their premium association.
"Thus, the USDA organic logo on an organic beverage package automatically differentiates its from the competition, and very little marketing is used to compare and contrast standard beverages with organic beverages," it said.
For products to carry a '100% organic' label, they must contain only organically produced ingredients and processing aids (excluding water and salt), 'organic' products must consist of at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt).
Processed products containing at least 70% organic ingredients can state 'made with organic ingredients', and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on product packaging.
"Despite these efforts by the USDA, there is still a great deal of consumer confusion regarding organic food and beverages. Until consumers truly understand the benefits of organic products, it will be difficult for them to justify paying a premium for such items," Euromonitor said.