What are the trends driving juices and smoothies innovation? Here, Julia Buech, Mintel’s Global Food & Drink Analyst, takes a look at how brands can keep up with consumers’ ever-changing preferences and demands.
Clean label builds momentum
Mintel's 2018 food and drink Trend ‘Full Disclosure’ describes how today's consumers require complete and total transparency from companies about production processes and ingredients. The growing focus on clean labels extends to demand for more transparency around ingredients, including a clear breakdown on labels between naturally occurring fruit sugars and added sugars.
As consumers increasingly question the quality of their food, they are attracted by the perceived higher nutritional value of 'cold-pressed' juices. Indeed, interest in natural, minimally processed and nutrient-dense products is fuelling innovation around cold-pressed juices which are designed to provide consumers with the benefits of raw ingredients. 51% of Italian consumers aged 16-24 claim to have drunk cold-pressed fruit juice/smoothies, followed by 44% of Polish and 34% of Spanish consumers of the same age.
Looking at innovation, the global share of cold-pressed juice introductions in total launches tripled over the course of three years, reaching 6% in the 12 months leading to November 2017.
Consumers seek transparency about sugars
Sugar remains a key concern for the juice and juice drink category. Upcoming new regulations in the US mean consumers will begin to see the amount of added sugar in products listed on the nutritional fact panel. The new label could have a significant impact on the 'clean label' appeal of 100% juice versus juice drinks, as it is likely to be perceived as more natural. While 100% fruit juice is also exempt from the upcoming soft drinks sugar levy in the UK, there is still a need for brands to be clearer on labelling, with six in 10 UK consumers finding the terminology used around sugars in juice/juice drinks confusing.
Rise of snack drinks
With consumers increasingly looking to fit in meals around their hectic lifestyles, innovation is focusing on the development of convenient, yet nutrient-rich offerings. Moreover, as described in the Mintel Trend ‘Power to the Plants’, aspirations for healthier and cleaner lifestyles are motivating consumers to include more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains into their diets. As a result, the market is witnessing the rise of a new generation of smoothies which draw on plant-based, protein-rich food ingredients in order to upgrade to 'healthy snack' status. Demand for juice drinks with high-protein plant ingredients is driven by the younger generation and almost a third of 16-24 year old consumers in Spain and Italy, and a quarter in Germany show interest in such concepts.
Seeds are the star ingredients in innovation
Nutrient-dense 'superfood' ingredients such as seeds, grains and nuts help transform a regular juice or smoothie into a more filling, naturally functional snack. Beyond health and flavour, such ingredients lend juice drinks an interesting texture. As described in Mintel's 2018 food and drink Trend ‘New Sensations’, texture is the latest tool to engage consumers' senses and deliver share-worthy experiences. Seeds in particular have stepped into the limelight in recent years, celebrated as nutritional powerhouses that are rich in protein and healthy fats. Chia seeds have been shining as front-label "star ingredients" in new launches in Europe, while basil seeds are the most common types used in South East Asia, where they are commonly used for thickening and health purposes.
Snack drinks boost plant protein factor with non-dairy milk
The current focus on plant-based protein has also opened the ground for innovation around smoothies enriched with non-dairy milk alternatives. This has seen a strong rise in popularity over the past few years, fuelled by a combination of health, ethical and taste reasons. While still niche, non-dairy milks – in particular coconut milk - have made their way into the smoothie sector, tapping into the plant-based protein trend while also adding to the richness of flavour.
Shot-sized health-boosting juice launches take off
Consumers are increasingly interested in naturally-functional food and drinks. Tapping into this trend, health-promoting juice shots provide a quick, natural boost of nutrition in small to-go bottles. Using concentrated doses of fruits, vegetables, plant extracts and herbs, juice shots are designed as a preventive measure to boost consumers’ overall wellbeing, but can also address specific health issues. These include boosting energy levels, supporting the immune system and digestive health, curing hangovers and relieving flu symptoms. Often combined with lemon juice, ginger is by far the leading ingredient in juice shot innovation. Dubbed a ‘wonder plant’, ginger has found its way into the diets of health-conscious individuals around the world, as it reportedly helps relieve pain and muscle soreness, lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
Woolworths Food Freshly Pressed 100% Nectarine Juice, South Africa: This juice is made using locally grown nectarines, which are pressed to capture their flavour in a bottle, with nothing else added. It was available only for a limited-time during nectarine season, highlighting the freshness of the product.
Friya Rose Blossom & Sour Cherry Superfood Drink with Basil Seeds, Germany:
Basil seeds have been traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and are now starting to get noticed in the West. This rose blossom and sour cherry drink with basil seeds is claimed to curb appetite and is recommended to be enjoyed ice cold.
James White, Organic Xtra Intense & Hot Ginger Shot with Chill, Denmark:
This ‘wake-me-up’ shot with pressed organic ginger and apple juice has a chili kick that makes it extra hot, for a quick energy boost.
Coldpress Cold Pressed Very Berry Almond Drink, UK:
Nuts are still under-represented as ingredients in snack drinks, with brands just starting to explore a wider range of types. This vegetarian product comprises almond, banana, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, elderberry and pear and is a natural source of vitamins C and E and antioxidants.
Rossmann Mamas Babydream Nursing Juice with Red Fruits, Germany:
Targeting pregnant and nursing mothers, this juice is formulated with folic acid for womb growth, iron for normal blood formation, and iodine for hormone production and thyroid function.
President's Choice Raspberry Blueberry Smoothie, Canada:
A blend of fruit purées, concentrated fruit juices, and quinoa powder. Quinoa has become the go-to ancient grain for modern snack juice brands, but opportunities exist to include other on-trend ancient grains including amaranth, teff, sorghum, spelt and buckwheat.
Yumberry Re:Me Organic Yumberry Fermented Drink, China:
Made with organic yumberry juice, the product claims to contain 20 amino acids, is very low in sugar, and is free from additives. Yeast is added during production, and the juice is then allowed to ferment, boasting many digestive health benefits.
Miel Nàtura Honey and Tulsi Drink, India:
This Indian health drink is made with natural Myanmar honey, hand picked from the deep forests of North Myanmar, and blended with the juice of the natural Tulsi plant. Tulsi is known for its health benefits and has strong antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Luli Tonix Black Magic Charcoal Lemonade, US:
Not your traditional lemonade - it contains water, organic lemon juice and peel, activated charcoal, organic maple syrup and Himalayan salt.
Beauty & Go Skin Brilliance Bioactive Beauty Drink, UK:
This beauty drink is a skin-protecting multivitamin fruit juice enriched with antioxidants, collagen and hyaluronic acid, and sweetened with stevia. It is rich in vitamin C which contributes to normal collagen formation and protects cells from oxidative stress.
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