Stefan Fageräng, Managing Director of North West Europe, Tetra Pak
Consumer habits and lifestyles are changing in many cases for the better, but for the drinks and particularly juice industry, change comes with a considerable number of hurdles and opportunities.
At a macro level, people are consuming the same or more calories than they did previously, yet they are burning off fewer calories due to their increasingly sedentary lifestyles (1). As we consume more and exercise less, poor health and obesity are issues which clearly go well beyond the influence of one industry sector. Collaboration will be key to avoiding a very serious health crisis in Britain. Industry, government, and health experts must work in partnership to deliver positive change to consumer lifestyles, while encouraging further reformulation in the drinks industry and beyond.
In the Tetra Pak Future of Healthy Drinks report, we looked at how concerns over obesity levels are starting to influence consumer behaviour and purchasing decisions and what this spells for the future of healthy drinks in the UK. Juice companies must appeal to consumers and see the new health agenda advocated by the UK government as an opportunity for innovation.
The announcement of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in March 2016 marked a turning point for the industry, and calls on drinks manufacturers to be accountable for the effect of the ingredients in their products, particularly sugar. Consumers are already becoming more concerned about sugar and calorie intake with more than half worrying about the volume of sugar in their food (2).
There is already positive innovation in the juice market, as producers launch new drinks with low sugar content or natural ingredients. However, meeting the demands of both the public and the government’s agenda around health remains a challenge. Consumers may be increasingly health-conscious but they still seek indulgence from their beverages. They don’t want to be restricted in their choices just because they’ve decided to take a healthier approach to their food and drink intake (3). It’s about striking a balance – a combination of excitement and adventure, coupled with healthy nutrition.
What innovation is already happening?
Whilst there is concern about healthy consumption, choice and flexibility remain a must for consumers. Portion control and reformulated products play a large role in helping consumers make healthy choices and we are starting to see the juice industry make changes in these areas.
In depth: Cawston Press
Cawston Press noticed that consumers’ tastes were changing, and that as part of this people were drinking more plain water, flavoured waters, and generally moving away from overly sweet products, not just in drinks but across the board. As parents themselves, the Cawston team were watering down juice for their own kids, so decided to develop a range of kids’ drinks made from a blend of 60% pure juice and 40% water. In addition to being a product they thought children would like, they felt that for kids who might not have drunk juice before, this was an important opportunity to train their palates to like less sweet things.
Cawston’s instincts proved well founded: the Kids’ Blends range has done very well since it was launched in 2012. The team recently launched a new variant, ‘Sunshine Sipper’, a blend of fruit and vegetable juices (orange, apple, and carrot), water, and vitamin C, and are also looking at expanding into new markets, such as the US.
What does the future look like?
There’s no ‘silver bullet’ solution to solve the current health issues we’re facing in Britain. The government’s obesity plan and the Soft Drinks Industry Levy will continue to cause great debate, and while the drinks industry has already shown a willingness to tackle the problem, there is still a lot more to be done.
There are practical ways that juice drinks producers can address these challenges. Discussions must continue between experts in industry, health and nutrition committees, and the government, whilst keeping in mind the needs and desires of consumers. There are still a lot more innovation opportunities open to juice drinks producers to encourage healthier consumer choices. Healthy, sustainable nutrition is clearly here to stay; the successful businesses of the future will be the ones which recognise and act upon this.
1 Cut Down on your Calories – NHS – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eat-less.aspx
2 Bridgethorne Shopper Index
3 Fruit juice, juice drinks and smoothies UK, Mintel Report 2015