Speaking at Cibus Tec in Parma, Italy, last week (October 25-28), the entrepreneur said the juice industry is ‘being tarnished with the same brush as Pepsi or Coca-Cola, and is under attack’.
Juice as an ingredient
His company, established in 1987, is one of the UK’s biggest blenders of apple juice, but has now changed its business model focusing on R&D in juices as an ingredient.
Berryman said the firm is a small company, which employs up to 35 people. It suffered a set-back when a fire nearly destroyed its factory two years’ ago but has now moved into new premises.
“Fruit juice consumption is going down. It’s a tough time for the industry. One of the reasons we hear is that fruit juices are unhealthy and there are a lot of Government campaigns about sugar,” he said.
“One of the things we have to do is explain in a new way why juice can be good for you. We have to listen to our customers - supermarkets say: 'we only supply what customers want', but that is a lie.
"When it comes to ‘new’ things, customers don’t know what is not known. Not all ideas work but we have to come up with the ‘unknown’ to be flexible and innovative.”
Not all fruit juice consumption is down, added Berryman. Apple juice concentrate made in China and Poland is driving the global market.
“We should call the tax on sugar a drinks’ tax not a sugar tax. We are not a soft drink manufacturer. WHO (World Health Organization) claims sugar-sweetened beverages make children fat,” he said.
“It is a problem but we have to try and think about it from the perspective of working in a fruit juice business - are we guilty? Fruit juices come from fruit, our early ancestors lived on fruit as ‘Frugivores’, that’s what we descend from, that suggests fruit is quite good for us, and our bodies are better at dealing with it.
“We would die without sugar, the only energy that drives living creatures is photosynthesis, our body ultimately turns what we eat into sugar, to get energy. What we are dealing with is vital to life.”
Berryman said the problem surrounding the debate today is ‘to do with the rush of sugar’ and ‘how quickly sugar gets into your bloodstream’.
“Too much is a problem,” he added.
Referring to an experiment by UK doctor Michael Mosby, who tested people’s eyes after drinking fruit juice smoothies, he found people had improved eyesight after consumption of smoothies with certain foods such as spinach, otherwise known as ‘Zeaxanthin’.
“Manufacturers need to innovate by blending different ingredients such as spinach, vegetables with apple juice, which people can recognize as being healthy,” he said.
In another experiment, Northumberland University found cherry juice reduced blood pressure within three hours, he added.
“The most feared disease in the UK is Alzheimer’s,” he said, “But in Okinawa, Japan, where people live the longest with a population of 740 centenarians, Alzheimer’s is rare.
“The island has traditionally had a daily intake of purple sweet potato, which belongs to the same family as red cherries and is full of anthocyanins, a root crop with less acid in it. Anthocyanin is also present in red grapes.
“We know they have an effect on our longevity, if it’s red and green juice it looks good and tastes good. Not many people know cloudy NFC (Not From Concentrate) has more antioxidant activity than NFC orange juice. People drink orange juice for its vitamin C, but when you put all the good things together in apple juice it has more of an effect.”
Juice manufacturers need to think about having less sugar, smaller portions, smaller bottles, and reducing the calories (such as by using natural sweetener Stevia), added Berryman. He said manufacturers are responding to what people are saying.
Pointing to an article by the Wall Street Journal, ‘Smaller Sizes Add Pop To Soda Sales’, he says smaller portion sizes have helped companies to make more money.