- The $19.8 billion juice market is expected to decline 7% between 2016 and 2021, according to a report by Mintel.
- Mintel attributes these sales declines to consumer concern over juice's high sugar content — one in five juice-buying consumers say the beverage has too much sugar to be healthy. A recent recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which warned parents not to give juice to children under age one, may further damage the segment's reputation.
- Juices with reduced sugar or labels that differentiate added sugars from total sugars, as well as organic offerings and juice hybrid products, could help revive the beverage category. Two out of five parents under age 45 find juices with reduced sugars appealing.
Juice has been considered by many Americans to be part of a balanced breakfast for decades — few cereal commercials are without a tall glass of orange juice next to their product. At the same time, the same fear of sugar that is crippling the soda industry is wearing on the fruit juice category, too. In the past, juice was seen as an alternative to unhealthy beverages such as soda, but this perception is quickly changing.
Parents represent the juice category's core customer base — nine in ten parents under age 45 bought a 100% juice product in the three months to February 2017, compared to 75% of non-parents. Mintel expects these purchasing patterns to shift as concerns over juice's nutritional value continue to grow.
Whole fruit juice is high in vitamins, but this isn't enough to quell parental concerns over its low fiber and high sugar content. The American Academy of Pediatrics' recent warning that children under age one should not consume fruit juice will likely escalate this fear. The organization claims the beverage can increase the risk of cavities in children, and that its lack of protein and fiber could promote inappropriate weight gain.
Most damaging is the AAP's assertion that ounce for ounce, orange juice contains about the same amount of calories as sugar-sweetened soda. "Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit for infants and children and has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children," the group states in its report.
In order to survive the backlash that studies like these bring, juice makers have begun to mimic the ways flavored waters and health drinks like kombucha and drinking vinegars position themselves. Millennials are still interested in premium, value-added pressed juices, and parents may be more likely to buy their children juice-based beverage hyrbids like Green Beginning Organic Kids' juice/coconut water blended drinks.
Juice manufacturers should identify their target base — whether it be parents of children or young adults — and innovate accordingly, either by cutting down on sugar or formulating products with probiotics and trending ingredients like ginger, cardamom and turmeric.
It will be interesting to see if product innovations and reformulations will be enough to ease consumer distrust of the juice category. Juice makers could market updated formulas as more nutritious than soda, or change their product packaging to advertise ingredient transparency and nutritional benefits. Still, it's unclear if the category will be able to overtake the bubbling bottled water industry, which continues to see strong sales and consumer interest.