A push towards the use of superfruits and antioxidants in drinks, driven by the health and wellness trend, has seen sales of superpremium juice go from nearly half a billion dollars in 2005 to $587m the following year. It then increased $75.2m, or 12.8 percent, in 2007, the report from the Beverage Marketing Corporation said.
The superpremium group includes fresh packaged juice, which is typically 100 percent fruit juice, or drinks that are similarly positioned in the market.
The study called “The Impact of Superfruits and Antioxidants”, said: “Superpremium juice marketers highlight the purportedly beneficial properties of their brands' ingredients.
“Terms like ‘antioxidants’ and ‘omega fatty acids’ recur frequently in talk of superpremium juice.
“For instance, one currently hot fruit – açaí – is touted as possessing greater quantities of those sought after substances than pomegranate.
“Both have been dubbed ‘superfruits’, as have black currants, blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, lingonberries and mangosteen, among others.”
The study highlights POM Wonderful pomegranate juice as a prime example in the market place. It says that this has “distinctive proprietary packaging, retail channel placement, high–end positioning and price”.
The growth of superfruits is also demonstrated by the purple açaí berry from the Amazonian rainforest, which manufacturers can boast of containing antioxidants and omega fatty acids as well as high fiber and vitamin content.
The report said: “Virtually unheard of in the United States prior to the 21st century, açaí quickly attracted several eager competitors.
“Brands like Bossa Nova, Odwalla, Naked Juice and Sambazon now market superpremium juices using the new superfruit.”
In the superpremium sub–segment, between 2002 and 2007 volume jumped from 37.7m gallons to 77.5m gallons.
Meanwhile sales, measured in wholesale dollars, increased at a stronger rate than volume, reflecting the impact of the premium pricing characteristic of the beverage type, the study said.
But manufacturers have had to overcome challenges along the way. Having fresh packaged juices with up to or near 100 percent fruit juice are bottled in single–serve containers and shipped fresh (or lightly pasteurized) rather than reconstituted from concentrate or chemically preserved.
This means they are generally more perishable than ‘regular’ juices, but the report says that marketers have worked to improve their shelf life.
Superpremium also includes juices that are not fresh packaged but are similarly positioned, carry high prices and are shelved in produce sections in stores.
Health and wellness
As is the case in most sectors across the industry, increasing awareness on the health benefits and risks associated to the food and drink we consume has led to a drive towards buying healthier, more nutritious, products.
Manufacturers have been strongly responding to this increasing demand, as well as the pressures from governments and regulators to reduce sugar, salt and calorie content through reformulation.
Developments in the superpremium niche have also entered mainstream beverage categories.
PepsiCo and Coca–Cola both added pomegranate flavors to their respective mainstream fruit beverage lines, Tropicana and Minute Maid.
Similarly major players in beverage alcohol, such as Bacardi and Anheuser-Busch, introduced superfruit–fortified offerings.