Super-premiums have sales juice

October 15, 2012

Conventional juices face tough times in sales, but higher-ticket, produce-rich beverages gain legs.

There’s a juice explosion in the United States. But it’s in the super-premium, produce-rich segment rather than in the conventional juice products that are most prominently merchandised in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchants, according to SymphonyIRI Group data.

The largest category, refrigerated juices and drinks, posted $4.48 billion in sales in these channels (excluding Walmart, wholesale clubs and gasoline/convenience stores), up just 0.62% in the 52 weeks ended September 9, 2012, said the Chicago-based market research firm. But unit sales slid 2.83% in the period.

In the shelf-stable bottled juices category, dollar sales declined 4.26% to $3.64 billion, on a 5.60% unit sales fall compared with a year ago.

Aseptic juices did rise 2.18% to $908.4 million, though on a 3.06% unit sales drop.

By contrast, canned juices were up 6.50% to $541.4 million, on 7.00% unit sales growth.

Frozen juice sales entered a deep thaw, down 5.89% to $321.5 million, on a 33.50% unit sales tumble.

Within some of these retail categories, several winners hint at the growing consumer excitement over specific product forms and ingredients that benefit from strong health perceptions. The SymphonyIRI Group data show that dollar sales of:
•    Refrigerated juice and drink smoothies soared 34.64% to $346.5 million in the latest 52 weeks, on a 37.22% unit sales gain.
•    Refrigerated cranberry cocktail drink jumped 364.52% to $17.7 million, as unit sales bounced 359.58%.
•    Shelf-stable bottled aloe vera juice rose 24.98% to $2.4 million, on a 30.45% unit sales gain.
•    Shelf-stable bottled juice and drink smoothies were up 106.59% to $29.8 million, as unit sales grew 54.64%.

So, where is the sales juice today? In 6,200 hip juice bars and sweeter smoothies shops surging in many cities, says Barron’s, and in places like Starbucks, which is expanding its presence of Evolution Fresh, acquired late last year. In Manhattan, for instance, a raw-juice bar named Juice Press charges more than $13 for a 17-ounce bottle of juice made of assorted raw and organic produce, the investor publication reports. According to its account of Beverage Marketing figures, sales of bottled super-premium fruit and vegetable juices reached $2.25 billion in 2011, up 58% since 2004.

To F3, this looks like a push for Millennials who want to eat healthy and see juice as part of their family lifestyles. Some Millennial parents, for example, want cars with square cupholders for juice boxes, states Forbes.  

Indeed, the Florida Department of Citrus (FDC) also wants Millennials to drink orange juice, and will begin to air new humorous television commercials this month depicting a college student who believes the beverage will help her out in different situations, reports The Ledger. FDC has already increased shopper spend on orange juice by $1.96 for every dollar it spent on 26 different shopper-marketing programs last year, the paper added.

With such marketing initiatives to promote conventional juice, along with the expanded presence of Evolution Fresh and other similar brands in supermarkets—perhaps within the super-premium chilled displays that stores tuck into their produce departments—consumers should be more juice-aware quite soon.