Similarly, Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Co. introduced Starbucks Refreshers, which are juice-based energy drinks made with green, unroasted coffee beans. The low-calorie drinks come in Strawberry Lemonade, Orange Melon and Raspberry Pomegranate flavors.

Looking to reinvent the super-premium juice segment, Starbucks recently acquired Evolution Fresh Inc., which offers “never heated” juice products.

“Using high-pressure pasteurization to help ensure the inherent nutrients are kept intact during the juicing process is a key point of differentiation for a growing number of our juices,” said Jimmy Rosenberg, founder and chief juice officer of Evolution Fresh Inc., in a statement.

Starbucks not only plans to expand the brand’s distribution and offer its brands in Starbucks stores, it also intends to introduce a new health and wellness retail concept that will further redefine the super-premium juice category and experience for consumers, the company says. 


Emerging trends

Beyond functional ingredients and fruit blends, the juice category has seen the proliferation of aloe juice and coconut water within the juice drinks category.

“The number of juice introductions containing aloe vera as a flavor component has almost doubled since last year,” Mintel’s Theodore says. “In some cases, these products are straight aloe juice; in others, aloe is being blended with other juices.”

Combining the two trends, San Francisco-based SPI West Port Inc. launched Alō Coco Exposed, which blends aloe with coconut water and other juices.

While it’s clear that coconut water has increased in popularity during the last couple of years, it has an acquired taste that might not appeal to everyone, says Ty Law, U.S. research associate for Euromonitor International, Chicago.

“One hurdle for growth will be that the flavor of pure coconut water is not appealing to all Americans,” he says. “Because of that, we have been seeing growth in coconut water-blended juices and smoothies. Manufacturers are trying to update their juice blends or smoothies to be able to market the health benefits provided by coconut water.” n


Stephanie Hildebrandt is the associate editor of Beverage Industry, published by BNP Media, owner of Dairy Foods. This article is an edited version of what was published in the January 2012 Beverage Industry.