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Boxes give juice's popularity a boost.

Fueled by the widespread popularity of aseptically packaged juices, the overall juice category zoomed upward in 1983, and is expected to grow even more rapidly this year. Major food companies are hopping into the juice arena as if it were the fastest moving product on the grocery gondola.

Sporting a sales increase of 15.45% in 1983, the $2.5 billion canned juice category--which includes aseptics--has almost tripled in sales during the past decade.

And that is nothing compared to the possibilities unleashed by aseptic packaging, say the juice manufacturers. They see almost unlimited potential for the aseptically packaged products, which are opening up a new market for juices.

Whereas canned and bottled juices are primarily consumed by adolescents and adults, the aseptically packaged product is popular with children because it provides a ready-made container.

At least a dozen manufacturers have already brought out aseptically packaged juices, and more may enter the field in 1984. Although they are usually tough as nails regarding shelf and display space for new products, most grocers are enthusiastically embracing the aseptic juices and fruit drinks.

The aseptic juice market is segmented into two parts: the 100% juice segment, where three boxes retail for an average $1,19; and the drink segment, in which a three-pack sells for 89 cents, on average. Market share in the overall category is estimated at 25% for Shasta's Capri Sun, 22% for Ocean Spray and 20% for Hi-C.

Initially test-marked in 1980, Capri Sun has become the best selling of all aseptically packed products. Produced by Shasta Beverages of Haywood, Calif., Capri completed its national rollout in February 1983. In January 1984, the company introduced a watermelon flavor to complement the fruit juice, grape, orange, apple and lemonade flavors already on the market.

"We live in an active society that likes the convenience of portable and easy-to-handle drinks," says Rob Cohen, director of marketing for Capri Sun. "Our pioneering of the category along with the top quality of Capri Sun has made us a strong player in this market."

Del Monte has been pleased as punch with sales of aseptically packed Hawaiian Punch. "Sales of Hawaiian Punch were up 34% last year," says Karen Bachmann, manager of product publicity for Del Monte. She attributes that remarkable growth to Del Monte's effort to reposition the product as a drink for people of all ages, and to the movement of the product into aseptic packaging. Del Monte was so enthused about the boxes that the aseptically packed Hawaiian Punch was rolled out nationally without being test-marketed.

To gain more sales in this growing category, Del Monte will soon roll out one, and possibly two, products nationally. The company is currently in the process of bringing out Hawaiian Punch Lite, which will go national without being tested. With one-third less sugar than regular Hawaiian Punch, the new item will be available in aspetic and traditional packaging.

Hi-C in aseptic packaging also sold well last year. The fruit-based drink marketed by Coca-Cola Foods has recorded spectacular sales gains as a result of consumer acceptance of the product in aseptic packaging.

While the sweetened fruit drinks for children sell well, some parents are opting to serve products with no added sugar to reduce the sugar intake of their children. These juices, which are usually blended sweet enough to appeal to children, are recording impressive growth. Juicy Juice, a regional brand packed by the Fruitcrest Corp. of New Hyde Park, N.Y., has been one of the most successful of these blended fruit juices.

In May 1984, Fruitcrest was acquired by Libby, McNeil & Libby of Chicago. Leonard P. Judy, president of Libby, remarks, "Fruitcrest will be a particularly good fit with Libby. Juicy Juice is the leading brand in the blended juice category, which is growing at about 20% a year."

Adds Vivian Manuel, a spokesperson for Libby, "People want their children to drink something that is natural, that doesn't contain a lot of preservatives or sugar. The blended juice category is a $70 million business that should double during the next five years as more parents buy healthy products for their children." Juicy Juice is available in four flavors: grape, apple, cherry and apple plus.

Borden has recently gone national with its Sippin' Park juices, available in orange, apple and grape. Sippin' Pak was first introduced into test markets in Texas and Oklahoma in 1981, with national distribution completed in early 1984.

"Our market expansion program reflects strong consumer and trade acceptance of shelf-stable beverages packed in flexible cartons," says John Shanahan, general manager for aseptic products at Borden in Columbus, Ohio. "Although much of the initial activity in aseptic sales was in diluted juice drinks, the real growth should lie with higher quality, premium beverages like pure juices."

While newcomers such as Borden are committing heavily to the juice market, the old-juice companies are fighting to keep their fair share of the business. The Minute Maid division of Coca-Cola Foods has recently been promoting its brick pack. Ocean Spray has begun a massive advertising campaign to convince consumers that their label is the best.

Many people in the juice industry feel that there will soon be a shaking out of aseptic products. The rationale: while the new packing technique does provide the potential for some impressive growth, too many companies are attempting to tap that potential.

"The giant food companies are flooding the aseptic category with products," says Rick Birndorf, vice president of sales for Speas Farm of Bear Lake, Mich.

Birndorf believes that some upstarts in the juice category will have problems competing against his brand and other established juices. (Speas Farm has been selling apple juice since 1888.) The fruit and vegetable cooperative introduced aseptically packed apple, apple-cherry and apple-grape juice in October 1983.

Whereas the glamor girl in the juice aisle has been the aseptics, some traditional favorites in cans have also recorded sales gains during the past year. Campbell's Tomato Juice and V-8 Vegetable Juice boasted a sales increase of 6% during the fiscal year ended July 31, 1983. Campbell's recently acquired Juice Bowl Products, a Florida processor of fruit juices, and Costa Apple Products, a producer of apple juice.

Castle & Cooke's Dole unit sold a lot of pineapple juice in cans last year. "People are becoming more aware of ingredient listings, and are looking for juice products that are good for them," says Joyce Steele, manager of consumer communications for Castle & Cooke. "Dole pineapple juice has no sugar or additives. The only extra thing put into the juice is Vitamin C."

To stress the nutritional value of pineapple juice, Dole has embarked on the most extensive promotional plans in the brand's history. The new marketing strategy positions pineapple juice as a nutritious product that belongs in women's fitness programs.

Joan Benoit, world record holder for the women's marathon, has been signed to a three-year contract to represent Dole juice. Dole began the promotion by publishing five million copies of a 16-page booklet entitled "Shape Up Forever;" the booklet is to be given away at pineapple juice displays in supermarkets. Grocers who place a 40-case order receive 500 copies of the fitness guide.

Del Monte is also pushing its canned juices in 1984, primarily through a tie-in promotion with other Del Monte products. Consumers can receive up to a $10 refund on AT&T leasing charges by sending in up to 60 Del Monte proof-of-purchase seals.
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Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Jul 1, 1984
Words:1237
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