Fresh Approach

Battling to maintain share of stomach in the midst of the low-carb craze, juice makers roll out new products galore.
Long considered by many to be the elixir of good health, juices have been embraced by consumers from coast to coast. In an effort to reap numerous health benefits, ranging from lower cholesterol to reduced cancer risk, they took to guzzling seemingly endless gallons of orange, cranberry, grape and other juices.
Unfortunately, the past year has seen juices suffer somewhat of a setback. Ironically, the desire for better health is the primary cause, as reduced-carbohydrate diets have led a growing number of health- and weight-conscious consumers to turn their backs on the category.
“There’s a new benchmark of health focusing on carbs, and there are a lot of people out there who have felt that they’ve had to give up fruit juices in order to maintain their low carb diets,” says Gordon Crane, founder and chief executive officer, Apple & Eve, Port Washington, N.Y.
Indeed, sales of refrigerated juices and drinks in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart, fell 2.1 percent in dollars and 1.8 percent in units during the 52-week period ending May 16, 2004, according to Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI).  
“We’ve seen a decline across the whole category,” says Annette Jim, director of marketing, Byrne Dairy Inc., Syracuse, N.Y. “It’s a concern for us because the whole low-carb fad seems to be hurting juice sales.”
That’s not to suggest that juice makers are willing to throw in the towel and cede to the low-carb phenomenon. On the contrary, a growing number of manufacturers have answered the call for low-carb products by developing juices specifically for carb-conscious consumers.
At Langer Juice Co., for example, 70 to 80 percent of all e-mails pertained to consumers’ interests in diet juices, according to company president Bruce Langer.
In response, the City of Industry, Calif.-based company unveiled an array of low-calorie, low-carbohydrate juices, including Diet Apple, Diet Cranberry, Diet Ruby Red, Diet Cranberry-Raspberry, Diet Cranberry-Grape and Diet Kiwi-Strawberry Juice Cocktail, as well as a Diet Nectar.  Langer relies on Splenda, the artificial sweetener currently sweeping the food and beverage industry, to give its diet juices their sweet taste.
“The juices are delicious because Splenda tastes very similar to sugar and has no aftertaste,” says Langer. “It’s also very stable. After a year, Splenda reports that it’s still above 98 percent potency.”
Meanwhile, Apple & Eve introduced Light & Fruitful, a line of low-calorie, low-carb cranberry juice blends. Also sweetened with Splenda, Light & Fruitful contains two-thirds fewer calories than traditional cranberry juice blends and 9 grams of carbs.
Packaged in Apple & Eve’s new proprietary rectangular 64-ounce PET bottles, Light & Fruitful is available in three varieties — Cranberry, Cranberry Raspberry and Cranberry Grape — in supermarkets and convenience stores up and down the east coast.
Up Against the Big Boys
Obviously, the low-carb trend hasn’t escaped the folks at Minute Maid, a division of The Coca-Cola Co. Early this year, the Houston-based company launched Minute Maid Light, a line of low-calorie/low-carb juice drinks.
Sold at grocery stores and mass merchandisers in 64-ounce cartons and six-count 8-ounce multi-packs, the new beverages include Light Raspberry Passion; Light Mango Tropical; and Light Guava Citrus. Each 8-ounce serving contains 50 calories and 10 grams of sugar, compared to 110 calories and 24 grams of sugar in an 8-ounce serving of regular orange juice.
This new introduction comes on the heels of another health-oriented juice launch by Minute Maid. Late last year, the company unveiled Health Wise, the first orange juice clinically proven to help lower cholesterol. Available nationwide in 64-ounce cartons, the refrigerated product contains plant sterols, naturally sourced plant extracts that have been shown to help lower both total and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.
Naturally, where’s there’s Minute Maid, there’s Tropicana. The Bradenton, Fla.-based division of PepsiCo recently rolled out Tropicana Essentials Light ‘n Healthy, which contains one-third less sugar and calories than regular orange juice, as well as a full day’s supply of vitamin C.
Obviously, dairies and other regional players don’t have the same kind of R&D and marketing budgets as Tropicana and Minute Maid. Consequently, Melinda Champion, vice president of marketing, Johanna Foods, Flemington, N.J., says companies like hers must have the utmost confidence that a new product has what it takes to capture the hearts and stomachs of consumers before introducing it to the trade.
“We need to have a solid story for the retailer as to why they should allocate extremely valuable shelf space for our product,” she says. “To get it on the shelf is a bigger hurdle for us because we have more to prove than Tropicana, who can just go in and say, ‘Trust us — we’re Tropicana.’”
But all in all, dairies and other small players feel good about co-existing in the juice case with their big-name competitors. According to Ron Schroeder, director of marketing for Davenport, Iowa-based Swiss Valley Farms, advertising by any of the brand leaders has a “halo effect” on the smaller brands in the category.
“The array of products being offered by some of the juice companies is really impressive and draws a lot of attention to the category,” he says. “In our areas, however, we have a significant amount of loyalty to our brand because consumers appreciate the fact that it’s locally produced and they respond by buying it.”
While overall juice/drink category sales have fallen flat, the entire cranberry franchise has enjoyed dramatic growth in recent times with sales of cranberry cocktails and juices enjoying healthy increases. According to Damiano, women are the primary consumers driving the growth, as they turn to cranberry products in an effort to ward off urinary tract infections.
Increasingly, however, cranberry beverages are an all-family product, leading both Ocean Spray and Apple & Eve to develop an assortment of White Cranberry juices in recent years. With more children consuming cranberry drinks, it’s only logical to expect more cranberry drink spills. Naturally, White Cranberry juices create far less of a mess when they splash onto light-colored carpeting, furniture or clothing.
“White Cranberry has become a very popular product, with moms buying it for their kids because it’s not a red juice and it doesn’t stain,” says Damiano. “It also tends to be a little bit lighter and a little more refreshing — not quite as full-bodied as the red juices.”
Sales of bottled water have also grown significantly, up 17.7 percent in dollars and 5.1 percent in units, according to IRI. Undoubtedly, adults consume the vast majority of those units. In an effort to encourage children to drink more water, however, Apple & Eve has developed WaterFruits, a vitamin-fortified, fruit-flavored water specifically formulated for kids age six to 17.
Launched this spring at BJ’s Warehouse stores throughout the eastern United States, WaterFruits are the first enhanced water on the market that’s sweetened only with real fruit juices without any added sugars, preservatives or artificial sweeteners. Boasting 33 percent real fruit juice, WaterFruits are sold in 10-ounce bottles in six-packs and 24-packs in four kid-friendly flavors – Fruit Punch Flip, Citrus Splash, Watermelon Wave, and Berry Breakers.
Like water, refrigerated teas have experienced a surge in popularity, with sales rising 8.9 percent in dollars and 5.1 percent in units, according to IRI.  Damiano credits media reports on the many beneficial properties of tea are the primary reason for the increased demand.
Seeking to give tea lovers more choices, Apple & Eve introduced Fruit Teas, a line of single-serve iced teas sweetened with real fruit juice. Sold primarily in convenience stores, Fruit Teas are available in Lemon, Peach and Raspberry varieties.
When it comes to the future of the juice and tea category, Damiano points to soy as an emerging trend. Although Apple & Eve has yet to develop a product with soy, he says the trend is something on which his company definitely has its eye.  df

Top 10 Convenience/Pet Still Water Brands*
  $ Sales
(In Millions)
% Change
vs. Year Ago
Dollar
Share
Unit Sales
(In Millions)
% Change vs.
Year Ago
Total Category $2,161.1 17.7% 100.0% 1,000.7 5.1%
Aquafina 373.3 16.9 17.3 176.0 1.1
Dasani 272.5 11.7 12.6 142.1 0.2
Private Label 258.4 31.3 12.0 127.5 13.6
Poland Spring 138.7 1.5 6.4 49.7 -8.5
Arrowhead 112.5 7.0 5.2 39.3 -0.9
Dannon 106.6 50.0 4.9 42.3 35.3
Propel 104.9 49.3 4.9 52.6 35.7
Crystal Geyser 78.9 7.5 3.6 35.8 -11.4
Evian 74.9 -9.3 3.5 33.1 -14.5
Deer Park 69.6 56.8 3.2 19.7 32.0
* Total sales in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart, for the 52-week period ending May 16, 2004.
Source: Information Resources Inc.
Top 10 Refrigerated Tea Brands*
  $ Sales
(In Millions)
% Change
vs. Year Ago
Dollar
Share
Unit Sales
(In Millions)
% Change vs.
Year Ago
Total Category $128.1 8.9% 100.0% 81.2 5.1%
Turkey Hill 36.2 19.7 28.3 21.9 14.3
Private Label 16.1 1.0 12.6 11.7 -4.0
Red Diamond 12.2 41.2 9.5 6.9 41.9
Nestea 9.0 -12.5 7.0 4.2 -18.0
Arizona 8.1 -4.1 6.3 4.0 -2.5
Milos 7.8 9.2 6.1 4.0 12.2
Clover Farms 5.2 12.7 4.1 3.4 7.6
Minute Maid Premium 4.4 -8.9 3.4 2.9 -5.6
Swiss Premium 3.3 39.2 2.6 3.1 31.8
Galliker 3.2 -11.4 2.5 2.1 -19.7
* Total sales in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart, for the 52-week period ending May 16, 2004. Source: Information Resources Inc.
Top 10 Juices/Drinks Brands*
  $ Sales
(In Millions)
% Change
vs. Year Ago
Dollar
Share
Unit Sales
(In Millions)
% Change vs.
Year Ago
Total Category $3,914.8 -2.1% 100.0% 1,728.3 -1.8%
Tropicana Pure Premium OJ 1,206.7 -0.7 30.8 435.0 1.3
Minute Maid Premium OJ 443.4 -13.8 11.3 157.0 -13.7
Private Label 441.4 -11.8 11.3 221.7 -10.9
Florida’s Natural 234.6 -5.5 6.0 98.7 -7.4
Sunny Delight 203.3 -3.0 5.2 120.9 -3.8
Simply Orange 133.0 120.8 3.4 49.3 124.7
Tampico 104.5 -3.4 2.7 82.3 -1.8
Dole 101.8 -12.8 2.6 39.7 -14.9
Minute Maid Premium Fruit Juice 81.1 -5.3 2.1 43.8 -4.2
Welch’s 69.7 10.9 1.8 30.6 11.7
* Total sales in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart, for the 52-week period ending May 16, 2004.
Source: Information Resources Inc.