The fruit juice, juice drinks and smoothies category has been hit hard by the challenges of recent years. Feeling the effects of rising inflation and slowing consumer spending in the UK, volume sales for the category have dipped. But in the face of rising prices now and eventual recovery to household finances, value sales are forecast to grow by 9.4% to £4,950m between 2022-27, according to Mintel*.
Within this, juice drinks have already shown resilience, bouncing back from the set-back of on-trade closures through 2020-21 and buoyed by 2022’s long, hot summer. Value sales for juice drinks rose by more than 20% in 2022*, starting to close back in on pre-pandemic levels.
To build on this, there are a range of ways juice drinks can be developed, diversified, or repositioned to appeal to consumers. Juice brands and manufacturers can:
- Invest in health & wellness-focused juices
- Highlight new usage occasions for juices
- Go ‘green’ to create sustainable juices
And as prices for raw ingredients like fruit and vegetables have been pushed up by global supply chain challenges, juice drinks costs can be kept down for producers and consumers alike by reformulating recipes. Lower fruit juice ratios or the use of flavoured compounds can ensure the same taste but at a more appealing price point, suiting the shoppers already trading down on products.
Considering wider industry factors, the Plastic Packaging Tax and forthcoming Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) aren’t expected to hinder the fruit juice, juice drinks and smoothies category. Research by Mintel found the DRS should have “limited” impact on the category, while businesses have shifted to incorporating recycled plastics into packaging.
Our Juice Drinks Trends Report comprises insights, ideas and flavour inspiration to squeeze more out of juice drinks. Read on to find out more:
Invest in health & wellness focused juice drinks
Juice drinks can quench the thirst and fitness ambitions of drinkers by reframing their benefits or reformulating recipes.
The higher water content of juice drinks makes them more appealing as hydration-first drinks, as well as giving them typically lower sugar content than their 100% fruit juice counterparts. Including extra electrolytes, nutrients, or vitamins in recipes, can further increase the hydration and functional benefits of drinks. These could then reposition juice drinks from predominantly being a lunchtime or afternoon beverage* to being attractive breakfast offerings.
There has been a swell in new juice products highlighting how they offer improved immunity, cognition or gut health in recent years, the latter playing to heightened health concerns through the Covid-19 pandemic. Juice shots are in prime position to build on this further now, particularly if offered in larger pack sizes to limit packaging waste too.
Reformulating recipes has already been essential for some juice drinks to fulfil the requirements of the government’s HFSS regulations – placing restrictions on produce high in fat, sugar or salt. Ranges like Capri Sun have been reformulated in a bid to avoid being penalised on where and how retailers can promote and sell produce.
Flavour ideas & inspiration
For juice drinks that signal immediate health benefits, try classic apple, kale and cucumber or blueberry and pear. And for low sugar fruit flavours that signal hydration benefits too, try watermelon and mint or peach, apricot laced with turmeric for added functional benefits.
Highlight new usage occasions for juice drinks
Juice drinks can broaden their appeal and justify higher price points by repositioning themselves as stylish and flavourful mixers for, or even alternatives to, alcohol.
New usage occasions are a key opportunity for the subsegment to encourage both volume and value growth. Sophisticated, adult-oriented flavours – particularly spicy or floral botanicals – will be key here, suiting the 33% of adults who agree that juice drinks with sophisticated flavours are a better alternative to alcohol than standard flavours*. Positioning these as mixers for cocktails, or standalone ‘mocktails’, will encourage enjoyment beyond the typical lunchtime usage by aligning with trends for alcohol moderation.
Educating shoppers on how the ingredients and flavour profiles can complement foods, in a similar way to wines, will also help to boost evening usage. More than half of category users are interested in this, while 60% are interested in knowing how they could use juice drinks in cocktails or mocktails*.
Tropicana and Princes have already launched new Sensations, Skinny Mixers and Botanicals ranges – juice drinks intended to be used as mixers or evening beverages to encourage these new usage occasions.
For juice drinks that offer little luxuries, combining lemonade flavours will appeal as a treat. These became increasingly popular through 2022, across both drinks and confectionary products.
Flavour ideas & inspiration
Classic juice flavours could be elevated with trendy additions to make sophisticated juices. Rich blackberry with hints of vanilla or light strawberry, honeydew melon and cardamom could be alternatives to red or rose wines, respectively. An orange, guava and rosemary mix makes for an easy mocktail.
Go ‘green’ to create sustainable juice drinks
Juice drinks can align with consumers’ appetite for sustainable produce to increase interest. Drinks brands and manufacturers can ‘go green’ through the way they source and use ingredients or develop and educate on packaging.
For obvious green credentials, many producers are incorporating native ingredients into recipes. These can lower the food miles of produce and support biodiversity, farmers, and businesses across the UK.
For the consumers still keen to enjoy tropical flavours from further afield, brands can sustainably and reliably recreate these using flavour compounds. Consumers are increasingly open to being educated on how approaches like this deliver cost and environmental benefits without compromising on the flavours they love. Similarly, brands can build awareness of the benefits of concentrate juice drinks – which can lower environmental impact, product prices and, often, overall calorie count too.
Alternative packaging options are another way to support sustainability – whether through larger pack sizes to minimise packaging waste, or recycled or recyclable materials for the packaging itself. This can also increase appeal by creating cost-savings or feel-good factor too. Around a quarter (23%) of category users have bought bigger formats in a bid to save money on juice drinks* while 73% of shoppers say buying sustainable food or drink makes them feel good*.
Flavour ideas & inspiration
Create floral juices for adults using juniper or sloe, recreating classic gin flavours without the need for any alcohol content. These florals are already tipped to be popular flavours this year, and suit sustainability trends as plants native to the UK, giving them lower food miles.
Get the juice
Simpsons are experts in devising and developing flavours and compounds for juice drinks. Get in touch to see how we can support you to create or reformulate your range, or read our other trend reports and blogs for the latest industry juice.