Sharp reductions in the cost of chilled juices have helped drive their popularity among UK consumers. According to a new report from beverage industry analysts Canadean, chilled juices now account for over 30 per cent of total juice consumption, compared with 25 per cent just four years ago.
The report estimates that consumption of short-life juice (which mainly comprises chilled juice) reached over 350 million litres in 2002 - a 17 per cent increase on the previous year and an impressive 48 per cent higher than in 1999.
Chilled juices have traditionally commanded premium prices compared with the long-life segment in the UK. However, the erosion of this differential through intense price competition has attracted new consumers of chilled juice. While chilled juice increased by some 50 million litres in 2002, consumption of long-life alternatives receded by around 35 million litres.
The growing trend towards healthy lifestyles is also helping to drive the UK juice market forward, the report said. Chilled juice, which enjoys a healthy image, has increased in doorstep delivery volume (by milkmen) by more than 5 per cent since 1999. This may indicate that it is slowly replacing milk as a breakfast drink.
Furthermore, being lifestyle led, consumption of juice appears less seasonal than other soft drinks sectors. In 2002, the quarter with lowest demand still provided around 25 per cent of total annual consumption.
Given this sound platform, the future for juice looks promising in the UK, Canadean concludes. The report predicts that the total market will continue to grow in 2003, further exceeding 1.1 billion litres. Chilled juice should continue to prosper at the expense of long-life with market share likely to increase to more than 35 per cent in 2003.
Orange still leads the way
Although it is still by far the most popular long-life flavour, orange has been steadily losing ground in recent years, and actual consumption of orange and its share of the long-life market have both declined. Long-life apple juice, though, has performed strongly compared to all other flavours in this segment, supported by value brands which started to appear in 2002.
Conversely, orange has been the driver for much of the growth seen in chilled juices. Consumption in 2003 is predicted to reach around 320 million litres, representing an increase of no less than 63 per cent since 1999.
In addition to the lowering of chilled juice prices, the UK juice market as a whole has seen very strong new product activity including a revamping of the Five Alive range, the imminent introduction of Ace Refresh from Germany and the launch of Britvic's J20 as an off-premise brand.
In terms of packaging, cartons remain the overwhelming leader with over 80 per cent share. Interestingly, the use of non-refillable PET has become more widespread for chilled juice, not least because. PET is beginning to have links with quality in the eyes of the consumer in off-premise distribution. Glass usage also rose dramatically following the introduction of J2O.
For more details of Canadean's research on soft drinks, click here.