Whether it’s a glass of juice, a bottle of water, a can of iced tea, a cup o’ joe or a swig of an energy drink, many of today’s beverages offer a little something extra for that health-conscious consumer. In fact, the beverage aisle bulked up to include an insurgence of nutrient-rich and vitamin-laden options housed in recycled, sustainable containers.

Here’s a rundown of how beverage processors are expanding their market segments.

Juiced up and ready to go

It used to be that juice was made from concentrate and delivered nothing more than just a sweet taste.

Nowadays, juices are becoming the real deal thanks to an added dose of fruits, vegetables and other all-natural ingredients.

“Consumers continue to look for easy and more delicious ways to get their daily servings of fruit and vegetables,” says Victoria Nuevo-Celeste, marketing director for Naked Juice.

That’s why in August, the Monrovia, Calif., processor launched Mango Veggie, which consists of mashed-up mango with yellow carrots, sweet potato, sweet corn, apple, chick peas and hints of lemon and butternut squash. Together, these ingredients provide two full servings of vegetables and one serving of fruit in each 15.2-ounce bottle, Nuevo-Celeste says.

Simultaneously, Naked Juice revamped its reduced-calorie smoothie line to include Lychee and Citrus Lemongrass flavors.

“We are always looking for new, delicious fruits from around the world to bring to our consumers,” Nuevo-Celeste says. “Naked Juice offers the freshest fruits and vegetables and derives naturally delicious and artful blends that offer healthy, feel-good refreshment.”

Taking aim at its rival, V8, produced by Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., Plano, Texas, added Mott’s Garden Blend, a lighter-tasting blend of tomato and other vegetable juices that delivers two servings of vegetables per 8- ounce bottle.

Old Orchard Brands, Sparta, Mich., turned on the power with its Very Cherre pure tart cherry juice. This 100% juice drink is made up of blueberry, cranberry and cherry/pomegranate blends housed in a 64-ounce bottle.

Meanwhile, Minute Maid, Houston, Texas, a division of Coca-Cola Co., launched Minute Maid Pure Squeezed, available in 59-ounce carafe containers in no pulp, no pulp with calcium and vitamin D and some pulp options.

For its part, Odwalla Inc., Half Moon Bay, Calif., pumped up its Odwalla brand with Super Protein Mango, made up of apple juice, orange juice and mango and banana puree. This protein-rich smoothie is fortified with 20 grams of soy protein and provides 50% of the daily value of calcium and 150% of the daily value of vitamins B6 and B12 in each 12-ounce bottle.

Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co., Fort Pierce, Fla., debuted its new line of seasonal hand-crafted blends in blackberry limeade, orange mango peach and tangerine honey flavors. These all-natural juices are freshly squeezed, made from locally sourced fruits and carry the Product of the USA certified seal.

Nestlé USA, Glendale, Calif., tapped into its Hispanic roots and introduced three authentic-flavored aguas frescas (fruit juice) drinks. Aguas Frescas is 100% natural while the Aguas Frescas Jamaica kind is made from hibiscus flowers and a tamarind puree and provides an excellent source of vitamin C. Aguas Frescas Horchata consists of rice and cinnamon and produces an excellent source of calcium.

To further promote these new fruit drinks, over the summer, Nestlé deployed a custom-built food and beverage truck called the Nestlé Aguas Frescas Aguas! Movil, which canvassed Los Angeles neighborhoods, parks, beaches, festivals and retail outlets, providing samples of its new Aguas Frescas drinks paired with Mexican-street tacos.

And, while some processors focused on creating that better-for-you product, others turned their attention to developing a better-for-the earth package.

For instance, in April, Odwalla rolled out its PlantBottle packaging, which is made from 100% plant-based materials and sourced from sugarcane.

In May, Chicago-based Tropicana Products, Inc. launched a 12-ounce, single-serve container for its Trop50 brand extension. This new bottling concept exhibits the same transparent PET container as the original 59-ounce bottle.

“Our research shows that Trop50 fans strongly prefer clear packaging so they can see the vivid colors of Trop50 varieties, so we made the transition from carton to PET last summer,” says Kate Keller, director of marketing. “Also, the curved shape of the slim, clear bottle fits really well with the Trop50 proposition — the goodness of fruit juice with 50% less sugar and calories. The bottle is also recyclable.”

Furthermore, Dole Food Co., Inc., Hawaii, showcased a blow-molded canister for its new Dole Fruit Smoothie Shakers, which are made with frozen fruit and yogurt and will hit store shelves first quarter of 2012. This user-friendly, functional package allows consumers to unscrew the cap, add juice to the fill line, re-apply the cap and shake for 30-45 seconds. The result is a perfectly blended smoothie, the company says.

Taking one for the TEAM

The ready-to-drink (RTD) tea category is one of the fastest growing beverage segments in c-stores, according to Jamal Henderson, brand manager for the Brisk brand.

“Brisk iced tea has leveraged the momentum of the ready-to-drink iced tea category to come back in a big way and engage the coveted Millennial male audience,” Henderson says. “Catering to the ever-evolving needs of its audience, Brisk’s latest flavor innovation combines green tea with tropical mango and exotic dragonfruit flavors for a combination that is truly ‘Brisk.’”

The Brisk brand, owned by PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., launched a new green tea option to correspond with Warner Bros. Picture’s “Green Lantern” movie, which hit theaters this summer. The cans were designed by DC Comic artist Kenneth Rocafort, who “reinforced the unique connection between green tea and the ‘green energy’ that fuels the ‘Green Lantern’ corps” through the artwork, Henderson notes.

In addition, New York-based Graphic Design USA magazine honored Brisk last year with the 2010 American Package Design Award for its new 1-liter and 24-ounce can art design series.

“Brisk is all about being bold and innovative,” Henderson says. “With this mentality, we set out to partner with artists and up-and-coming social and digital companies who resonate with the brand and Millennial audience.”

Honest Tea, Bethesda, Md., refreshed the labels of its Honest Tea and Honest Ade lines. Beginning in September, the new designs feature a white background that highlights clean, vibrant images of the ingredients, accompanied by tea leaves and large cut-open fruit on the front. The labels also include a callout of “Brewed Organic [Green, Black or White] Tea Leaves” to reinforce the authenticity of the ingredients.

“The redesign of our labels was not necessarily driven out of any trends,” says Samme Menke, public relations manager. “Transparency has always been a part of our mission, but we didn’t feel like our old labels necessarily spoke to that. In our redesign, we incorporated more white space and more whole fruit to communicate the simplicity and transparency of ingredients.”

Honest Tea also adopted the Clear on Calories label, providing the caloric content of the bottle on the front of the label, Menke adds.

Also in support of the Clear on Calories initiative is Rooibee Red Tea, Louisville, Ky. That’s why, in April, Rooibee Red Tea debuted its line of naturally caffeine-free RTD teas in sustainable glass bottles housed in a 4-pack carrier.

“The new packaging design displays the total calories per container as recommended by the American Beverage Association Clear on Calories initiative in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to help families make informed choices as part of an active, healthy lifestyle,” says Heather Howell, the company’s “CTeaO.”

Plus, its products are USDA-certified organic by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Frankfort, Ky. That’s why it received first place for its Watermelon Mint flavor at the 2011 North American Tea Championship, which took place Feb. 22-23 in Las Vegas.

“Fortunately, Rooibee Red Tea competes in the natural food segment, where, despite the tough economy, consumers are continuing to make ever more healthful choices in their shopping selections,” Howell says. “Rooibee Red Tea uses pure organic cane sugar and all-organic flavors for our teas. It is a healthful product that is naturally caffeine free, high in antioxidants, gluten-free and provides a full serving of vitamin C.”

For its part, AriZona Beverages USA, LLC, Woodbury, N.Y., extended its packaging mix to include 12-packs of 11.5-ounce cans.

Coffee heats up the competition

One day coffee is bad for you, another day, coffee helps ward off certain forms of cancer. Whatever the day, the coffee category underwent a makeover that involves exotic tastes and a bounty of better-for-you ingredients, allowing consumers to keep coffee as a part of their eating regimen.

After its falling out with Starbucks Corp., Seattle, in August, Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., debuted its own version of RTD coffee with Gevalia, available in traditional roast, traditional roast whole bean, house blend, house blend decaf, French roast, French roast whole bean, Colombia, espresso roast, vanilla and chocolate mocha flavors.

Meanwhile, HP Hood, LLC expanded distribution of its Baileys coffee creamers to be available on the West Coast, including Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and New Mexico.

The Lynnfield, Mass., processor also redesigned the labels to better “capture all the richness and creaminess waiting inside,” the company said in a press release.

Stonyfield Farm introduced Organic Half & Half, a mixture of organic milk and cream that contains 11% milk fat and delivers 1 gram of protein and 40 calories per 2-tablespoon serving. The Londonderry, N.H., company suggests using it as an addition to clam chowder and soups, as a component to sauces, gravies and desserts or as an add-on to pies and cakes.

Water wages war against obesity

Water used to not be such a touchy subject. Doctors urged their patients to drink eight glasses of water a day, case closed. But, thanks to an insurgence of sweetened and sugar-filled beverages, many consumers are barely even drinking half of the recommended amount of water.

In fact, leading researchers and health experts discussed the importance of healthful hydration and its role in curtailing hot-button epidemics, such as obesity, at the Healthy Hydration Symposium at the Sustaining the Blue Planet: Global Water Education Conference, held by the Project Wet Foundation, LLC, Bozeman, Mt.
During the conference, speakers suggested that consumers actually replace sugar-sweetened beverages with more healthful choices, such as water, unsweetened tea and coffee.

“We’ve had great success with a marketing campaign aimed at promoting water as the primary drink of choice and providing education around the amount of sugar in popular beverages,” says Heidi Kessler, school nutrition manager for Let’s Go!, a multi-sector childhood obesity prevention program.

Thankfully, processors are responding by introducing a slew of options that allow consumers to make the switch from sugar to pure water with ease.

For example, Nature’s Omega, a joint venture between Mycell Technologies, Paramus, N.J., and Nature’s Way Purewater Systems, Inc., Pittston, Pa., released Omega Water, a flavored bottled water that’s fortified with 100 milligrams of omegas 3 and 6. It comes in lemon squeeze, orange splash, fruit fusion and berry breeze flavors.

TalkingRain Beverage Co. debuted Twist Essence Water, a zero-calorie, naturally sweetened, non-carbonated flavored water that is said to combine “the quintessential essence of fruit flavor and healthy hydration,” the Preston, Wash., company says.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based Activate released a line of vitamin-enhanced beverages, designed for the active, on-the-go consumer in search of a vitamin and hydration fix.

The Lulo Pear option is a multivitamin drink packed with 200% of the daily serving of vitamin C and other essential vitamins, whereas the blueberry pomegranate flavor is made with acai and aloe vera extract to deliver an antioxidant-rich drink. The raspberry citrus flavor is loaded with vitamin C, amino acids and electrolytes and is touted as a post-workout beverage to keep active consumers hydrated.

Processors are also enhancing the way consumers drink their water.

For instance, Activate’s new PET bottle is composed of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and is equipped with a proprietary cap that stores ingredients separate from the water and increases shelf life.

Denver- and Phoenix-area residents can dive into a can of water, not a bottle, with Just Pure Water, a non-carbonated, all-natural water that’s infused with lemon-lime, orange and berry flavors. Produced by New Age Beverage, Denver, Just Pure Water comes in 24-ounce 100% recyclable cans.

Weis Markets, Inc., Sunbury, Pa., took its 20-ounce private-label brand of bottled water and placed it in 100% recycled PET plastic. The bottles, produced by Ice River Springs Water Co., Inc., Canada, are manufactured with recycled resin derived from baled post-consumer plastic purchased from municipal recycling plants and use 25% less plastic.

Pumping up, chilling out

Energy drinks have been the craze for some time, however they’ve also received an enormous amount of backlash. Drinks such as Redbull, Monster, 5-hour Energy, Full Throttle and Four Loko have stirred up some controversy, as they contain ingredients that are said to produce too much energy, resulting in death.
But not all energy drinks have to be banned from the shelves. That’s why some processors continue putting together pumped-up formulas that still pump up the energy but in a better-for-you manner.

For example, Hydrive Energy LLC developed Hydrive Extra Strength, which contains 20% more caffeine than leading energy drinks, but only delivers 30 calories per bottle. It comes in a black cherry flavor.

“Hydrive energy drinks are a refreshing alternative to traditional energy drinks developed for those who are looking for a great tasting, healthier boost of energy without all the added sugar and harsh ingredients,” says Charly-Ann Oddo, director of marketing for the Rye, N.Y., company.

Hydrive Enhanced Water energy drinks offer a jitter-free energy and optimum hydration option.

“There is a great deal of buzz around the term functional beverages, those that offer added vitamins and nutrients shown to improve overall health, and each Hydrive SKU has been given a unique functional benefit,” Oddo adds.

Xyience, the Las Vegas-based maker of the Xenergy line of energy drinks, presented Frostberry Blast, a balanced blend of blueberries and raspberries. This sugar- and calorie-free drink comes in a 16-ounce can featuring Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva, a middleweight fighter for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

On the other hand, some processors are scaling back on the energy-filled drinks and incorporating some more chilled out versions for the health-conscious consumer who still wants a kick.

Hydrive launched a more chilled-out version of an energy drink with Hydrive Decaf, a caffeine-free energy drink that’s loaded with B vitamins, D-ribose and choline. Each 15.5-ounce bottle delivers 30 calories and comes in a wild peach flavor.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a shift in the types of beverages consumers are looking for — moving from drinking heavily sweetened, carbonated, non-nutritious drinks to lighter, more refreshing, healthier ones,” says Oddo.

The Chill Group LLC, Los Angeles, is cooling down its consumer base with Just Chill, an all-natural stress relief beverage designed to keep shoppers relaxed without causing drowsiness. It’s formulated with 100% natural ingredients, including ginseng, ginko biloba, lemongrass, L-theanine and other essential vitamins.
It doesn’t matter how it’s bottled or canned; today’s non-dairy beverage is pumped and ready for the every consumer and every taste.

Non-dairy Beverage Processors Are Talking About:

• Protein
• Vitamins
• Full servings of fruits and vegetables
• Pure and unsweetened
• Recyclable and sustainable PET bottles
• Clear on Calories initiative
• Good source of calcium

Silky and Smooth

“Plant-based nutrition and nutritional value are major trends in the non-dairy beverage category,” according to Sara Loveday, senior communications manager for Silk, part of WhiteWave Foods Inc.

That’s why the Broomfield, Colo., company expanded its portfolio to include Silk Pure Coconut coconutmilk, which is said to feature 50% more calcium than dairy milk and is an excellent course of vitamins D and B12. This dairy-, lactose- and cholesterol-free drink comes in original and vanilla, with 80 and 90 calories per serving, respectively.

Silk also increased the calcium level of its Pure Almond products by 50% to be more consistent with its other lineup of products, and has plans to release a new plant-based, nutrient-rich, non-dairy beverage option in January 2012.

“Nutrition-conscious beverage consumers are looking for new options, and expanding the plant-based nutrition category with new products, flavors and nutritional value is a tremendous opportunity,” Loveday says.

Tree of Life, a business unit of KeHE Distributors, Romeoville, Ill., tagged on to the non-dairy beverage trend with its Almond line, available in original, unsweetened original, vanilla, unsweetened vanilla and chocolate. Released in March, these almond beverages pack iron, calcium, protein and vitamins A, D and E into a 32-ounce carton.

Meanwhile, Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., stretched its Protein Plus beverage line to include the Parfait smoothie, a yogurt parfait-based smoothie made with strawberries, yogurt, granola and the company’s proprietary whey and soy protein blend, which delivers 25 grams of protein per 15.2-ounce bottle.

Lastly, White Cow Dairy, East Otto, N.Y., introduced Dairy Tonics, which consists of whey on top of yogurt. These drinks are said to be rich in probiotic enzymes, and come in sunflower-yellow, lime, lemonade and berry flavors.