Functional juice drinks are on the rise: Consumers have adjusted their consumption behaviour in recent months and shifted priorities in favour of a healthier lifestyle. Here you can find out how this affects the product development of juices and which role functional juice drinks will play in the future.
While juices used to have to meet the criterion of good taste, juice brands now score with products that taste extremely good and also fulfill important beverage properties from the consumer's point of view: naturalness, no additives and no added sugar.
Ideally, however, the new juices convince with more than the aspects “free from” and naturalness: As functional juice drinks, they offer a plus in vitamins and other nutrients. And: They contain even less sugar than their classic variants in their natural composition: Special biological and biological-physical processes make this possible today.
Drinks that effectively communicate how they can contribute to a normal immune system function are developing remarkably well. The experts at Mintel promise that the demand of these drinks will continue after Covid-19. According to the consumer motto “health first”, 19 percent of the new juice launches in 2020 were enriched with extra vitamins or minerals.
These launches met the need of many consumers: According to FMCG Gurus, 70 percent of global consumers in 2020 said that they had improved their diet with the aim of improving their immune health in the past few months. 66 percent of these focused on reducing sugar, 58 percent on increasing vitamin supply and 65 percent on reducing products with additives.
Source: FMCG Gurus
In this blog post on functional beverages, we have explained when a functional and health-related claim is possible and how this may be communicated.
In context with effects on the immune system, the Health Claim Regulation allows functional juice beverages to include the statement "contributes to the normal function of the immune system" on the label. For this, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved a number of vitamins and minerals that may be used in connection with this claim, provided they reach the specified minimum content in the product - including vitamins C, A, B12, B6 and D as well as zinc. High levels of these micronutrients are a feature of many functional juice drinks that focus on supporting normal immune system function. Functional juice drinks with a high vitamin C content are particularly popular. Vitamin C is also associated with supporting the immune system, among other things.
In addition to using fruits rich in vitamins and minerals in functional juice drinks, brands should also try to use other plant-based ingredients that contain functional ingredients, such as ginger and turmeric. Chinese consumers, for example, associate ginseng, propolis and cordyceps with immunity due to their functional ingredients.
Covid-19 and the pandemic with its consequences not only put the immune system to the test, but also the mental wellbeing of people around the world. Accordingly, juices that support normal cognitive function through certain ingredients, such as zinc and iron, are also increasingly popular. Juice brands can respond to this by positioning themselves in this segment with functional juice beverages, for example.
An exciting novelty among the functional juice drinks are the small portioned mini juices - so-called juice shots: They are usually sold in small bottles such as 50-100 ml and used to be a main product in juice bars. In recent years, they have also gained noticeable appeal in the retail sector, benefiting from major consumer trends. With botanical ingredients such as ginger, turmeric or chilli and their functional ingredients - ginger, for example, is rich in vitamin C and B vitamins and is a source of minerals - they offer a number of advantages: depending on their composition, they can contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue or to the normal function of the immune system. Juice shots can also provide an important boost to the mainstream juice sector, which has suffered in many markets due to growing concerns about the sugar content in fruit juices.
Juice shots themselves have a high market potential if you bear in mind that 51 percent of consumers in Poland assume that small amounts of juice provide the right amount of nutrients without having to consume too much sugar. 37 percent of consumers in the UK state that a juice shot gives them a quick “power kick”, and 25 percent of Italian consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 are interested in drinks and smoothies that contain herbs and spices.
Source: "Nordic Multi-Unit Shots: Blueprint for Future of Juice", Mintel, Julia Buech 2020
Calorie and sugar reduction in particular are and will remain a big development segment for fruit juice beverages: The share of European market launches of juice beverages with the claim “no added sugar” continues to increase, especially for pure juice – to which by definition no sugar may be added anyway – and also nectar. However, the fact that sugar occurs naturally in fruits makes it difficult to develop functional sugar-free juice drinks. That is why juice brands have started to develop innovative recipes with at least a lower sugar content, for example by containing a higher content of vegetables or the less sweet juice from green coconuts. Special technologies and processes also make it possible to reduce the natural sugar content in existing juices. Mintel assumes that, thanks to new technologies, the sugar reduction in 100% juices will reach “new heights” within this decade.
In the process that AUSTRIA JUICE is already using, the sugar reduction also results in a significant improvement in the Nutri-Score in a 100% juice. In the overall score a classic 100% apple juice is marked yellow and has the Nutri-Score C, while an apple drink made from sugar-reduced apple juice from apple juice concentrate achieves the score B and the colour green. This variant of apple juice with a fruit content of 100 percent has 30 percent less sugar and 30 percent fewer calories. In addition to apple juice, corresponding product variants are also available for orange and multivitamin.
An exciting trend in connection with functional juice beverages is the trend towards personalized nutrition, which is currently still in its infancy. It can be assumed that personalized beverages will be more and better available in the next five years.
Sources: “The Future of Juice and Juice Drinks: 2021”, Mintel, Julia Buech
Consumers have adjusted their consumption behaviour in recent months and shifted priorities in favour of a healthier lifestyle. Functional juice drinks that, for example, contribute to the normal function of the immune system or, through certain ingredients, can also contribute to other normal body functions, score with consumers. A major focus in functional juice beverages in the future will be on sugar reduction. In addition to the combination of fruit juices with low-sugar (vegetable) juices, this can be realized by special biological and physical processes in 100% juices.
Market Intelligence & Innovation Manager