Dispatches from Vitafoods Europe

It’s getting juicy in the functional beverage aisle: Juices see success with healthy and natural positioning

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Evolution Fresh cold pressed juice smoothies have caught the attention of Starbucks
Evolution Fresh cold pressed juice smoothies have caught the attention of Starbucks

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Functional beverages are now less about fortification, and more about honing in on the natural health benefits of their ingredients, according to Innova Market Insights.

The functional beverage category is repositioning itself around inherent nutrition, Robin Wyers, chief editor at Innova Market Insights, told attendees at Vitafoods Europe in Geneva last week.

The European market has seen growth in new product development in the soft drink category, he said. From 2010 to 2014, this rose at an average of 20% a year - and NPD was particularly high in the juice category. 

There are a number of small players in the juice category that are challenging the power of big brands in the soft drinks market, said Wyers. This is because they are positioning their products with a clear message that resonates with millennials, who are looking for authentic, premium quality products.

The most common health claims being made by juices included no additives and preservatives, no added sugar, natural and organic, and natural sources of antioxidants, he added. 

5 trends in the functional juice sector

Wyers highlights five trends he sees among functional juices, which include an interest in different technologies and use of ingredients which have - in the past - been less commonly associated with beverages. 

1) Cold pressed is best: ​Wyers said: “Consumers are seeking out cold pressed for their high nutritional properties and improved flavour, with front-of-pack claims of paramount importance.”

Cold pressed juice product launch activity increased by 84% in 2014 from 2013 (cold pressed juices use pressure, not heat, as a way of deactivating bacteria). Organic and non-GMO claims were often used alongside these products. 

“North America is the largest market in terms of new cold pressed juice drinks,” ​said Wyers. “This is down to innovation from major players such as Starbucks, who’ve been involved in projects such as Evolution Fresh.” ​ This enthusiasm has spilled over into the mainstream, he added. 

“Europe has emerged as the second largest market and accounted for over a quarter of global launches in 2014, but still in it’s relative infancy, I think,” ​he added. 

The top five countries for cold pressed juice launches are the US, UK, Germany, France and Switzerland. 

2) Colour cues for heath: ​Darker greens for vegetables, and reds for fruits, are on trend colours for fruit juices, said Wyers.


3) Drink to detox:​ A number of drinks are focused on the inherent properties of fruit and veg for detoxing. “Many juice products are now being positioned on a kind of a body cleanse or detox platform. This is due to their raw status, and raw is another claim we really see on the rise,” ​said Wyers. 

As an example, Rawpothecary has its Dandi Detox drink, made with dandelion, parsley, pineapple, raspberries, and coconut water. 

4) Calling all veg:​ Unusual vegetables are being used more commonly in the juice sector, said Wyers. “We see vegetables increasingly infiltrating fruit juice products and ingredients, those vegetables not normally associated with juicing: such as pumpkin, and even things like chick peas.” ​Other vegetable ingredients include celery and kale. 

Take, for example, Chuice’s ‘The River of Life’, which includes herbs, nuts and seeds among its ingredients; or Suja’s limited edition ‘Call me pumpkin’ drink. 

alo allure
Alo Allure

5) Healthy hybrids​. Coconut water with fruit juice; or aloe vera combined with mango juice? These are products on the shelves and Wyers expects to see this hybrid trend continue. 

Alo Allure combines aloe vera, mangosteen, and mango; while Invo offers coconut water with tropical fruit (mango, pineapple and passionfruit ingredients). 

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