Meanwhile, the sports nutrition beverage segment and ready-to-drink (RTD) teas continue to gain market share, reaching new demographics looking for convenient products that can deliver critical nutrients.
By the Numbers
Between 2007 and 2012, dollar sales of fruit and vegetable juices and juice drinks barely budged, and the volume of juice and juice drinks consumed by households hardly kept up with population growth, according to a 2013 report from Packaged Facts, Rockville, MD, titled “Fruit and Vegetable Juices: U.S. Market Trends.”
Traditional consumption patterns are changing rapidly, Packaged Facts noted, as consumers turn away from classic products such as frozen orange juice. In fact, between 2007 and 2012, the consumption of orange juice declined by 3.6%, and frozen orange juice declined significantly (-14.7%).
Exotic blends of fruit juices and antioxidant-rich “superfruits,” unexpected combinations of fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, coconut water and aloe vera juice continue to gain shelf space in conventional supermarkets, according to Packaged Facts.
RTD tea has posted impressive growth, according to SPINS, Schaumburg, IL, performing well in both the natural (excluding Whole Foods) and conventional retail outlets. The category brought in more than $502 million in the combined channel for the 52 weeks ending May 11, 2013, achieving 15.1% growth compared to the previous year. RTD coffee raked in slightly more ($508 million) at 3.8% growth.
Functional juice drinks and kombucha posted impressive sales gain for the period tracked by SPINS, reaching $715 million on 30% growth. Sales of refrigerated vegetable juice & fruit/vegetable blends also grew 19% to $76 million.
As for shelf stable functional beverages, sports beverages and isotonic drinks gained 3% in the conventional channel to reach about $3.2 billion. While the natural channel sales are much smaller in comparison ($38 million), the category gained 17.6% from the previous year. Energy and other shelf stable functional beverage sales surpassed $2 billion in the combined channel on 6.3% growth.
Technology involved with beverage fortification continues to improve, according to Russ Hazen, raw materials and ingredients specialist, Fortitech, Schenectady, NY. “A lot of it is simply tools in a toolbox. As the technology for ingredients becomes better we can do things we couldn’t before, and that opens up new and innovative areas.”
For example, incorporating fish oils and fat-soluble ingredients into clear beverages has been a pretty big hurdle for the industry. However, “the ability to get omegas into a water-based system is improving on a regular basis,” Mr. Hazen added. “Probably one of the biggest formulation challenges is masking flavors—finding combinations of ingredients and flavors that work well together.”
As technologies continue to advance, decreasing particle size to the nano scale will eventually allow manufacturers to add virtually any nutrient into a clear beverage, he said. As for omega 3s, there’s still room for improvement when it comes to solubility, he said, but companies continue to improve concentrations.
Last summer, Ponce de Leon Enterprises, Hillsdale, NJ, introduced an all-natural omega 3-fortified water (sourced from flaxseed) enhanced with vitamins B (3, 5, 6, 12), C, D and calcium. Omega3Water is a vegetarian, kosher-certified beverage available in two flavors: Bold Berry and Orange Kiwi.
Brien Quirk, director of research and development, Draco Natural Products, San Jose, CA, said consumers are looking for more simplified formulas with fewer ingredients. In order to maintain a healthy positioning in the market, beverage manufacturers are turning to fruit and vegetable blends that offer functional benefits. For example, green tea, kiwi, goji berry and blueberry may be used for energy beverages; ginger, Chinese yam and shiitake mushroom for immunity; jujube fruit, asparagus, prune and ginger for digestion; euphoria fruit, beets and pomegranate for cardiovascular health.
As an example, Ritual Wellness, Costa Mesa, CA, added three new flavors to its Ritual Juice line this year. The highly alkalizing and metabolism-boosting Ginger Lemonade variety contains alkaline water to carry oxygen to cells and regulate pH levels; lemon for vitamin C and flavonoid compounds; raw agave to provide trace minerals and natural sweetness; ginger to boost the immune system; and turmeric to stimulate the metabolism, decrease inflammation and flush toxins from the body. The Basic Greens blend is made of all veggies and contains 8 grams of plant protein. The green juice includes kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, celery, cucumber, parsley, lemon and ginger. In addition, the company’s Chai Hemp Mylk is rich in protein and delivers a beneficial ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats. The functional beverage is ideal as a meal replacement beverage.
With more attention paid to the overconsumption of caffeine, and continued FDA focus on the category, more consumers seem to be turning to tea. U.S. tea sales at restaurants, grocery stores and shops reached $15.7 billion last year, up nearly 32% from 2007, according to Packaged Facts. In the next two years, the market is expected to expand to $18 billion.
Perhaps exemplifying mainstream adoption of tea, Seattle, WA-based Starbucks acquired Atlanta, GA-based Teavana Holdings, Inc. late last year for $620 million. Teavana is a specialty retailer offering more than 100 varieties of loose-leaf teas, authentic artisanal tea wares and other tea-related merchandise through nearly 300 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
While tea consumption in the U.S. is still far behind coffee, the Los Angeles Times reported that tea drinking is growing in the U.S. at a faster rate than coffee, according to market research firm IBISWorld. In the last decade, the amount of tea consumed by the average American grew 22.5% and will rise an additional 3% in the next five years. Coffee slumped 1.9% between 2003 and 2013 and will grow less than 1% through 2018.
Across the pond, where almost nine in 10 (87%) Brits drink tea, overall retail value sales of tea in the U.K. jumped by 22% to £655 million between 2006 and 2011, according to Mintel. Annual sales growth had rapidly accelerated to 11.9% in 2009 when the market was valued at £610 million, largely fuelled by price inflation, which also remained high in 2010 when the total value hit £660 million. The tea market then declined in 2011, when value fell 1% to £655 million.
Brooklyn, NY-based RUNA Tea has unveiled two new flavors of unsweetened bottled tea. The new Guava and Lime flavors are brewed with a native Amazonian tree leaf, or guayusa. These new flavors are the first completely unsweetened teas produced by the four-year-old company. RUNA’s guayusa tea offers as much caffeine as one cup of coffee with twice the antioxidants of green tea. This unique tea blend has been shown to support the immune system, in addition to serving as a digestive aid and appetite suppressant, according to the company.
While tea may be surging, coffee still has a solid foundation in the market. Genesis Today, Austin, TX, has launched two new coffee drinks: Skinny Coffee Vanilla Latté and Skinny Coffee Creamy Cappuccino. Blending light-roast coffee, steamed milk and a hint of flavor with 400 mg of pure green coffee bean extract per serving, each drink includes only 90 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 12 carbs. Both beverages aim to support healthy weight, metabolism, cardiovascular function, energy and optimal blood sugar levels. Boasting 5 grams of protein and 250% of the daily value of vitamin B12, both products are plant-based and gluten- and soy-free.
Coconut Water & Protein
Perhaps making the most significant impact in the functional beverage market of late, coconut water has exploded in recent years. According to Mintel, the number of product introductions increased more than fivefold (+540%) from 2008 to 2012.
New product launches were dominated by North America, totaling 35% of global coconut water introductions in 2012, up from just 17% in 2008. Europe followed with 34% of new products launched last year, up from 13% in 2008, while Asia-Pacific accounted for 14% in 2012, up from 9% in 2008. In contrast, however, there was a decline in the percentage of products launched in Latin America, with 16% of introductions in 2012, compared to 61% back in 2008.
“Coconut water contains naturally high levels of electrolytes, including potassium, calcium and magnesium, which have made it popular as a sports drink for natural foods consumers,” said Jonny Forsyth, global drinks analyst at Mintel. “Coconut water is doing particularly well in the U.S. because both sports recovery drinks and vitamin-enhanced waters are well-established—much more so than in other countries—meaning that people already buy into the benefits of electrolytes in a beverage. Sales of the product have also been helped by its rapid take-up among celebrities and high-profile investments from beverage companies.”
Coco-Cola’s ZICO brand recently extended its line of premium coconut waters with Chocolate and Dark Chocolate varieties.
Meanhwile, Real Beanz, Brooklyn, NY, has debuted its Iced Coffee Made With Coconut Water. Available in Dark Roast and Cappuccino varieties, the product label states, “Refresh - A new high to hydrating.” The Dark Roast variety claims to contain natural ingredients and 20% coconut water.
As the sports nutrition category expands to include more everyday consumers, as opposed to traditional, dedicated athletes, protein has become a prominent player.
Capitalizing on the craze for coconut water and protein, this year Maverick Brands, Palo Alto, CA, introduced Coco Libre Protein Coconut Water in the U.S. and Canada. The beverage contains 20 grams of protein, 22 vitamins and minerals and 140 calories. It is promoted as being high in calcium and potassium, low in fat and gluten-free. The product is available in Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee and Almond flavors. The company also offers its Coco Libre Coconut Water + Chia, which boasts protein, fiber, calcium and omega 3s from the “ancient grain,” along with the hydrating benefits and electrolytes of coconut water (potassium and phosphorous).
New vegetarian, vegan protein sources like rice and pea are growing in popularity, carving out promising niches for manufacturers who can market their products to a broader group of consumers with allergies/sensitivities to traditional protein sources like soy and whey.
For example, Vital Root, Santa Monica CA, debuted its Botan plant protein beverage, which contains 25% of the daily value of protein and 60 calories. Tomato-Lemon, Pineapple-Coconut and Goji-Mangostneen varieties claim to be free from sugar, cholesterol, soy, whey, fat, preservatives and gluten. According to the product label, “Botan is the result of a unique and patented method used to extract proteins from plants and make them completely soluble.”
Veggie Power & Ancient Grains
While still offering some potential, hype surrounding the next big “superfruit” is beginning to calm. In fact, according to Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director, Datamonitor Consumer, “superfruits are ailing.”
“One of the most intriguing trends in the functional beverage market has been the use of vegetables,” he added. With ancient grains like quinoa and chia also making a splash in beverages, the category seems to be undergoing a shift.
Demonstrating the potency of vegetables, Numi Organic Teas launched a line of savory “veggie-spice-tea blends” that combine real organic vegetables, wild herbs, decaf tea and aromatic spices. Flavors include Broccoli Cilantro, Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice, Garden Sampler, Spinach Chive and Tomato Mint. Products are certified-organic and verified non-GMO, according to the company.
Many more companies are harnessing the power and potency of vegetables. Next Foods, Boulder, CO, maker of GoodBelly brand probiotic juice, introduced its first vegetable juice variety, Carrot Ginger. The new flavor joins the company’s line of non-GMO, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan and kosher beverages fortified with the probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V), which supports daily digestive health. GoodBelly Carrot Ginger combines carrot juice and ginger, two superfoods known for their health benefits.
Ginger has been recognized for its natural ability to ease stomachaches, nausea and diarrhea, while carrots have been touted for their high vitamin A content, which benefits the immune, nervous and circulatory systems. One 8-oz. serving of GoodBelly Carrot Ginger offers 50% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A and provides 20 billion live and active cultures of LP299V, according to the company.
Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, CA, recently launched Daily Greens, which blends spinach, cucumber and kale with a hint of lemon. At 90 calories per serving, one 15.2-oz. bottle offers 4.5 servings of vegetables and 100% of the daily value of vitamins, including antioxidant vitamins A and C and minerals manganese, iron and zinc.
Langer Juice Company, Inc., City of Industry, CA, has partnered with Royal DSM, Herleen, Netherlands, to include its ingredient Fruitflow in the Langers Tomato Juice Plus and L&A Tomato Juice. Langer’s juices are the first beverage products available to U.S. consumers featuring DSM’s Fruitflow, a new natural ingredient that has been scientifically shown to help support healthy blood flow. Both Langers Tomato Juice Plus and L&A Tomato Juice are made of 100% pure tomato juice without added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sweeteners or preservatives. These juice blends are enhanced with tomato-derived Fruitflow and other vitamins and minerals that contribute to the juices’ high nutrient values.
Fruit and vegetable blends have also emerged as popular product formulas. Tropicana, Chicago, IL, a division of PepsiCo, has launched Tropicana Farmstand, a chilled fruit and vegetable juice that targets moms who are looking to provide vegetable servings for their families. Tropicana Farmstand provides one serving of fruit plus one serving of vegetables in each 8-oz. serving. It is also an “excellent source” of vitamins A and C and a “good source” of potassium, the company said. Flavors include Peach Mango, Strawberry Banana and Pomegranate Blueberry.
Country Pure Foods, Akron, OH, a processor of juice products for school grades K-12, has added V Blend Vegetable / Fruit Blend juices to its Juice4U! brand. Developed primarily to help school nutrition planners meet vegetable requirements, V Blend juices aim to increase the total vegetable servings consumed by children. Fortified with vitamins A, C and E, and made with 100% juice from concentrate, V Blend juices are approved by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Breakfast, Shakes & Smoothies
Who has time to sit and eat breakfast in the morning these days? With cereal sales stagnant, and yogurt (especially Greek varieties) performing well, Datamonitor’s Mr. Vierhile noted a new meal replacement opportunity is emerging for the breakfast occasion.
General Mills, Minneapolis, MN, has introduced BFast nutritious breakfast shake, offering the nutrition of a bowl of cereal with milk in a shelf-stable, single-serving carton that can be found in the cereal aisle of grocery stores. Available in Chocolate, Vanilla and Berry flavors, the product contains 8 grams of protein, 8 grams of whole grains and 3 grams of fiber.
Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI, is also reshaping breakfast with its To Go shakes, available in Milk Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla flavors. Looking to offer nutrition along with convenience, Kellogg’s Breakfast To Go shakes contain 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. The company has also introduced its Breakfast Fuel Drink to consumers in Australia under the Kellogg’s Nutri Grain brand. Presented in a 250 ml paperboard drink box, the drink is tagged as low GI and high in protein and fiber.
Oats are also finding their place in the breakfast/beverage market. Oatworks, New York, NY, has introduced a natural smoothie combining the power of oats with 100% real fruit juice. The product features beta-glucan, a naturally occurring soluble fiber. One single-serve bottle of Oatworks contains as much soluble fiber as two bowls of oatmeal, as well as the benefits of fruit, according to the company. The oat-based smoothies are ideal for those who need an energizing breakfast on the go, a quick pick-me-up or a boost pre- or post-workout, the company said. Flavors include Peach Mango, Strawberry Banana and Pomegranate Blueberry. The drinks are vegan-friendly, gluten-free and contain no GMOs or added sugar.
Spilling over from the sports nutrition market, Mr. Vierhile noted that protein is finding a comfortable home in breakfast products, as well as shakes and smoothies designed for a broad base of consumers.
The makers of Muscle Milk, CytoSport, Inc., Benicia, CA, have launched Evolve, a naturally flavored protein shake designed to be a complement to any woman’s healthy lifestyle. Evolve is sweetened with stevia, cane sugar and monk fruit, and is available in five flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla Crème, Strawberry, Mixed Berry and Café Latte. The drink’s active ingredient, Tonalin CLA, helps reduce body fat, maintains lean muscle mass and improves body composition. CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a polyunsaturated, conjugated fatty acid that is a natural part of the human diet found primarily in meat and dairy products. Evolve is lactose- and gluten-free and contains 110 calories, 12 grams of protein, 20 vitamins and minerals and is an “excellent source” of fiber.
Orgain, Inc., Irvine, CA, has launched its Orgain nutritional shake, which contains 16 grams of organic protein, organic complex carbohydrates, organic fiber, a complete vitamin and mineral blend and a combination of 10 certified-organic fruits and vegetables.
According to the company, Orgain can be used for breakfast, as a post-workout shake, during illness or as a healthy, energizing snack between meals. Flavors include Iced Cafe Mocha, Strawberries & Cream, Sweet Vanilla Bean and Creamy Chocolate Fudge. In addition, Orgain Healthy Kids is available in Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry flavors.
Kate Farms, Santa Barbara, CA, unveiled its flagship product, Komplete Ultimate Shakes, which are dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free RTD meal replacement shakes made with organic ingredients. They are available in three flavors: Cocoa Fudge, Vanilla Bliss and Java Latte.
As a former tennis professional and the cousin of tennis legend Rod Laver, Richard Laver and his wife Michelle founded Kate Farms for their daughter, Kate. At the age of four, Kate was failing to “thrive” and was faced with numerous difficulties. The meal replacement beverage her doctors prescribed was overloaded with sugar and dairy for calorie enhancement. As a result, Kate had many complications, including bottle rot, sleep apnea and digestive problems. With their daughter not living an ideal life, the Lavers decided it was time to take matters into their own hands. Together they blended 21 superfoods including acai, mangosteen, black currants, raspberries and green tea extract, which provided antioxidants, protein and vitamins, without unneeded preservatives and sugars. Within weeks Kate’s condition improved greatly and she no longer needed breathing treatment for sleep apnea, her digestion problems improved and her mouth was once again healthy.
Nina’s SaVse has recently distributed a range of smoothies made from “a blend of crushed vegetable, fruit & pure juices” in the U.K. Promoted as a “nutritious, raw, smoothie,” the drink is available in three varieties: Broccoli, Pear, Spinach, Kale, Kiwi, Lemon & Banana; Beetroot, Apple, Avocado, Lime, Mango & Lemon; and Strawberry, Broccoli, Celery, Kale, Orange & Spinach.
Recently in the U.S., Bolthouse Juice Products debuted a new Blended Coffee Protein Shake under the Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus banner. The “100% Arabica Coffee” shake contains 30 grams of protein and “loads of B vitamins.” The product is free from preservatives, artificial colors and flavors and GMOs.
Make It Your Way
Personally customizable and convenient beverages may continue to evolve following the success of Kraft’s MiO brand of portable, squeezable, liquid water enhancers. With MiO Energy, consumers have the ability to add B vitamins to their own beverages anywhere at anytime. The company recently expanded the brand to include MiO Fit, which offers electrolytes and B vitamins for a customizable zero-calorie sports drink. It is available in Berry Blast and Arctic Grape flavors.
Ecosentials LLC, Phoenix AZ, debuted its own Vitamin Squeeze Powder Water Enhancer, which provides antioxidants, essential vitamins, electrolytes and minerals in a squeezable powder. Free from calories, carbohydrates and sugar, the concentrated vitamin product is available in Multivitamin, Energy and Weight Control varieties.