Tropical flavors may help US juice brands stem sales losses, according to Mintel, which notes a raft of recent launches using tastes popular in exotic destinations where some consumers have roots.
Writing in the research firm’s November 2013 report, ‘Juice and Juice Drinks, US’, which covers this $15.5bn market, Mintel's analysts note that young consumers and Hispanics over-index in their interest in new flavors.
The company reports that juice/juice drink product launches rose 25% from 2009 to 461 in 2013. Here we're focusing on flavors alone, but it's worth mentioning in passing that Mintel urges brands to reformulate with stevia (given September 2013 research showing 36% of consumers use more stevia in food, drink, cooking/baking than a year ago), pay more attention to sugar or sweetener levels, and innovate in packaging.
'Gateway beverages' beguile shoppers
Spotlighting flavor-based innovations alone, Mintel says that examples of recent exotic launches include Hawaiian-inspired Pom Hula (pictured above, left), which is a 100% juice blend from concentrate - 50% pomegranate, 30% pineapple, 20% organic apple - with added natural flavors.
Other instances include Welch's Passion Fruit Fruit Juice Cocktail Blend - where 25% juice content includes grape, apple and passion fruit juices from concentrate.
Another Welch's example is Dragon Fruit Mango flavored juice cocktail blend - 20% juice with pear, mango, dragon fruit and guava juices from concentrate - while Goya Soursop Nectar contains 13% juice.
Given calorie concerns, Mintel says that 17% of US consumers agree that vegetable juice carries less calories, and the research firm described fruit and vegetable blends as 'gateway drinks' for shoppers who are reluctant to ditch their sweet fix.
A notable recent launch here is Dei Fratelli Truly Veggie! Vegetable Juice with Sea Salt, an all-natural product with high vitamin A and C content that comprises tomatoes, celery, carrots, beets, green pepper, onion and garlic.
Elsewhere, Forager Project Carrot uses high pressure processing (HPP) to treat wholly organic ingredients, while PepsiCo has also entered the space with Naked Power Garden Tomato Kick Juice - made with 1lb of fruit and vegetables per 15.2oz bottle); Bolthouse Farms Daily Greens 100% Fruit & Vegetable Juices are vitamin rich, packed as they are with kale, spinach and romaine.
Herbs and spice, and all things nice
Adding herbs, spices and other seasonings is another way to give products a more 'developed' flavor profile and more value - 'yoga in a bottle' offering Turmeric Pineapple Elixir Juice Drink is one launch Mintel spotlights here, an HPP drink blending turmeric, pineapple, ginger, cardomom, spearmint, agave, lemon and sea salt.
Mintel describes AriZona's Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Lemonade with Honey and Ginseng as a "refreshingly gulpable twist on an American classic", while Vital Juice Co.'s Vital Grapefruit & Fresh Mint Cold Pressed juice is another HPP product that is locally crafted, sourced and bottled in Seattle, Washington.
This local appeal also extends to products in well-established categories like apple juice, where drinks are appearing that use local varieties/origins to encourage trial - 'tude Gala 'tude Apple Juice uses Gala apples, Trader's Joe's McIntosh uses McIntosh apples, and Giant Eagle Market District Valencia Orange Juice is not-from-concentrate and uses only 100% Florida oranges.
Juice and juice drinks also offer a delivery vehicle for superfoods, with launches in this space including ALO Light Refresh Aloe Vera Juice Drink with Cucumber and Cantaloupe.
Bolthouse Farms' Acai + 10 Superblend Juice (formerly Bom Dia) is another example, one that provides 3 3/4 servings of fruit in every bottle - the formulation includes goji berries, sea buckthorn, blackcurrant, mangosteen and noni berries.
Functional benefits appeal to US 18-34s in particular, Mintel stresses, with antioxidants and the promise of an energy boost just some focus areas among product launches such as V8's Splash Grape Blend Juice with high levels of vitamins E and C.
Mintel's November 2013 report is available to buy here .