Over the past two years alone sales of chilled, high quality and natural juice have increased by a staggering 60 per cent to some £768 million (€1.1bn).
In 2004, fruit juice accounted for the majority of the overall market for fruit juice and juice drinks (those containing less than 100 per cent fruit juice with added ingredients), currently worth £2.32 billion.
Fruit juices particularly make up a large part of the market value, some 60 per cent, shows the report, 'Fruit Juice and Juice Drinks in the UK'.
"Trends towards healthier eating as well as an increasing interest in more natural, organic products are key reasons for the phenomenal growth we have seen in this market," explains James McCoy, senior market analyst at Mintel.
"What is more, British consumers are now demanding more top quality, premium products and produce with added vitamins, minerals, and functional ingredients such as soy or omega-3."
The findings are confirmed by research into today's functional drinks market. In western Europe, fruit juices and nectars with added multivitamins or calcium, and ACE drinks, are the largest contributors to the functional drinks category, according to drinks consultancy Zenith International.
Some examples of these drinks cited by Mintel include the Tropicana range ofvitamin, calcium and fibre-enriched orange juices; Supajus, a shelfstable orange juice for children with omega-3 DHA, from the NaturalFruit & Beverage Co; Well?, a range of pure juice blends that contain oligofructose for intestinal health; and Pomegreat, a pomegranate juice drink with vitamins A, C, E and folic acid, made by RJA Foods and targeting female consumers.
Also herbal juice drinks for adults, particularly buoyant in theUS, are also beginning to develop in Europe. Popular US brands areSoBe and Snapple, and formulations include ginseng, guarana, echinaceaand kava root. Claims mainly focus on 'lifestyle' positionings (egenergizing, stimulating, calming, relaxing) or are influenced by health(eg protection against colds and other common ailments).