“It’s starting to take off,” Lund says. “We’re trying to get it in. We’ve had a lot of customers asking about it.” A representative from Aspire confirmed with CSP that the beverages are available only in Minnesota, but a national rollout could take place beginning in 2014.
According to a report from market research firm IBISWorld, Los Angeles, “[The juice] category has declined in terms of revenue primarily due to lower demand because of negative publicity. For example, first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against obesity advocated cutting high-sugar beverages, like some fruit juices, from daily diets.”
But in relation to other beverage offerings, juices are indeed a healthy alternative. Perceived healthfulness of a juice product, either 100% juice or a juice drink with added health benefits such as fiber or vitamins, may be attracting more health-conscious customers and pulling them away from sugary beverages, some say.
“Consumers in general are seeking healthier options, and convenience-store customers are part of that trend,” says Sweat of In Zone. “The difference in purchase patterns at c-stores appears to reflect continued migration away from CSDs on certain occasions, as well as an improved assortment by retailers who have reset to capitalize on the ‘better for you’ beverages.”
“Our primary consumer target is called the ‘active balancer,’ ” says Bolthouse Farms’ Ginestro. “They are disciplined eaters who prioritize looking good and have adopted mechanisms to stay on track with their diets. Convenience stores are the perfect channel to cater to these active consumers seeking convenient, healthy products on the go.”
According to the IBISWorld report, changing consumer habits and the glut of new juice products in the market makes it an ever-changing category.
“Consumer trends are significant drivers of competition,” the report says. “As consumers increasingly become health-conscious, companies must adapt to the new demand for natural juices and the decreasing demand for sugar and sweeteners. Additionally, as many new products are developed as soon as a drink becomes popular, companies must quickly develop their own in order to attract some of the emerging market.”
Sweat agrees: “Innovation is definitely helping to grow the category, especially on the premium end of the market.”
Bolthouse’s Ginestro sees innovation in the fully functional beverage, one that offers full servings of that all-important base of the food pyramid: “The vegetable juice trend is also growing, as more mainstream consumers look for ways to get daily servings of vegetables in quick and easy formats.”