The reduction of calories and sugar in beverages has become an ongoing trend that is already reflected in the global consumption data. AUSTRIA JUICE addresses the consumers' need for natural, lighter alternatives by developing sugar-reduced fruit juices without artificial ingredients and with the rich taste of the fruit.
Increasing demand for low-calorie products is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the beverage industry. This trend is also driven by the taxation of added sugar in soft drinks. Labels such as the Nutri-Score or traffic light labelling also affect the food industry. Considering the Nutri-Score, the fruit juice segment is increasingly confronted with a bad reputation due to its natural sugar content. Even though 100% fruit juices never contain added sugar according to the European regulation, their calorie content can remain high on average due to the fruits they contain. Thus, a 100% apple juice is given a Nutri-Score of C (on a scale of A to E).
Consequently, innovative approaches are needed by the fruit juice industry to address these issues and to address changing consumer behaviour and sugar reduction as a major opportunity for new developments in the beverage category.
Draft of the European Commission for the declaration of reduced-sugar fruit juices
The EU Commission has published a draft for a revision of the fruit juice directive by April 2023. AUSTRIA JUICE welcomes this forward-looking draft of possible future declaration, as it establishes a clear framework for a new innovative product category in the area of 100% juices. This is done without disregarding the core of the directive and preserving the naturalness of fruit juice as much as possible. The named technologies are well researched and established and protect the fruit juice from possible adulteration. The required minimum reduction that is defined are 30% of the sugar content. The draft stated that the products which meets the sugar-reduction criteria could be labelled with "reduced-sugar fruit juice from concentrate". This also gives the consumer a clear guideline to assess such products.
Consumer trends as innovation drivers for fruit juice producers
The increasing health awareness of consumers is also reflected in the sales market and in consumer behaviour. For instance, 70% of consumers worldwide state that they have improved their diet in 2021 to improve their immune health. Of these improvements, consumers focus mainly on reducing sugar (66%), increasing vitamin intake (58%) and reducing additive intake (65%). Similarly, in Germany, 52% of juice consumers state that they have reduced their juice consumption due to concerns about sugar. But when buying juice, juice drinks or smoothies, the taste is particularly important.
As a result, the fruit juice industry is exploring technological innovations to reduce natural sugars and sweetness from 100% fruit juices by keeping the authenticity and specific properties of the fruit juice. Preserving the popular characteristics of a juice while reducing calories can be crucial for consumers when making purchasing decisions.
However, it represents a challenge for fruit juice producers. AUSTRIA JUICE has successfully met this challenge through its technological research and resulting product concepts. According to Mintel, technology-enabled sugar reductions in 100% juices will reach new heights in the next decade.
New technology for low-sugar fruit juices
As a company in the global food and beverage market, AUSTRIA JUICE caters to consumer’s need for natural, low-sugar product concepts. The company is therefore dedicated to the development of sugar reduced fruit juices. The target is a juice with 100% fruit but only 70% of the calories. Due to the 30% calorie reduction compared with a 100% apple juice, the Nutri Score rating also improves, according to the currently existing regulation and classification. But not only the nutritional value, also the increasing demand for clean labelling is taken into account in the product.
The majority of consumers also associate low-calorie options with the use of artificial sweeteners. But even natural sweeteners such as stevia are not universally accepted in soft drinks due to sensory differences. AUSTRIA JUICE also meets these sensory requirements with its technology. The product is without artificial ingredients.
A successful approach: 100% fruit – 70% calories
AUSTRIA JUICE uses a biological physical process to reduce the sugar content of juices by 30%. The reduced sugar fruit juices in the portfolio are apple, orange and multivitamin – they contain no additives, are not sweetened and have a comparable content of minerals, trace elements and polyphenols to the 100% juice.
Appropriate regulatory requirements are currently being drawn up at EU level and AUSTRIA JUICE welcomes the draft of the EU Commission by April 2023 regarding the declaration of such reduced-sugar juices. According to the existing Nutri-Score system, the reduced version can be classified as score B.
Standard 100% apple juice
New reduced version
Nutri-Score calculations done with: "Outil calcul", version of 27.10.2020
In addition to the low sugar approach, the general trend towards calorie reduction will also lead to an increased demand for generally less sweet flavour profiles. In the long run, this represents an opportunity for fruit and vegetable juices.
Vegetable juices on the rise
By using vegetables in 100% juices, the calorie content can be kept lower. As vegetable juices enjoy a positive image in terms of nutritional value, but have flavour peculiarities, the big challenge is to inspire consumers with new flavour combinations of vegetables and fruit. AUSTRIA JUICE has recognised the market potential in this segment as well and has expanded its product portfolio to include vegetable juice concentrates. The combination of different juices creates individual product solutions that meet current market requirements and trends.
The experts at AUSTRIA JUICE always strive for the best possible state-of-the-art product solution. As their know-how is all under one roof – from market research to the beverage concept, from fruit cultivation to the finished recipe and ingredient supply – AUSTRIA JUICE offers its customers the best possible support for their diverse projects.
Be it drinks with full sugar content or low-calorie options, AUSTRIA JUICE realises customised beverage concepts, individually tailored to the customer's demands.
The increasing health awareness of consumers is already reflected in the sales market. Innovative approaches are needed by the fruit juice industry to address this changing consumer behaviour and the trend of sugar reduction as a major opportunity for new developments in the beverage category. To be able to serve consumers needs for natural, sugar reduced product concepts, AUSTRIA JUICE is intensively dedicated to research into sugar reduced juices. The target is a juice with 100% fruit but only 70% of the calories. AUSTRIA JUICE experts developed therefore a biological physical process and shows that less sugar content of fruit juices is possible - by keeping the authenticity of the juice and without adding any artificial ingredients. Concerning the declaration of these kind of products the EU Commission published a draft for the revision of the fruit juice directive. We are curious how the journey will continue.
Source: Mintel The Future of Juice & Juice Drinks: 2021 FMCG Gurus