Warm weather, a Wimbledon win and customers coming in wearing flip-flops - could this be the year that Britain finally gets its summer back? If so, then it’s important to keep room in the chiller for a thirst-slaking juice and smoothies offer, alongside the waters and carbonates.


That’s the amount that future consumption formats are up for juices and smoothies in the convenience sector, according to Nielsen

“Juices and juice drinks are a crucial category to the convenience channel, with a 16.4% value share of total soft drinks (10.7% volume),” says Coca-Cola Enterprises trade communications manager Dave Turner. “The sector is growing ahead of the general soft drinks category in convenience, with volume up 3.3% and value up 5.7%,” he reveals.

With figures like these, juice looks like a welcome ray of sunshine for the c-store sector. And to suit this sunny mood, shoppers are opting for seriously tropical tastes.

Adrian Troy, head of marketing at AG Barr, says 11,000 new consumers started drinking exotic juice stalwart Rubicon every day during 2012, 80% of whom Troy refers to as ‘mainstream’ shoppers (TNS Omnibus/Ethnibus Org 2012).

To feed this demand Rubicon has added a new lychee variant to its 500ml stills range - the first of its kind in the impulse market. “Lychee is Rubicon’s fastest growing flavour at 15% MAT,” points out Troy.

CCE isn’t being slow to meet the tropical trend, either. It’s putting its marketing might behind new mango flavours, in both its Oasis and Capri-Sun lines.

Elsewhere in the category, the drive for authenticity is inspiring new brands to tailor exotic flavours to the increasingly adventurous UK market.

Originally designed for his North London restaurant, Jamaican-born entrepreneur Colin Carr is now launching his Saapos range of Caribbean drinks into the impulse channel under the strapline ‘The Original Caribbean Punch’.

“We started making fresh punches based on my Jamaican family’s traditional recipes in the kitchen of our Caribbean restaurant,” says Carr.

“In our corner of North London we were experiencing growing demand from local convenience retailers, which is why we’ve taken this big step out into the impulse market. C-stores have a very wide consumer base and not everyone wants fizzy colas or mineral water.”

Carr says that he had to tweak the original recipes to fit in with a market that’s more attuned towards health.

“If we were marketing our Caribbean Punch drinks in the Caribbean islands, they would have a lot more sugar - here in the UK people are more concerned about their sugar intake and are probably more inclined to read the label, so we have taken a great deal of care with our ingredients,” he says.

Retailer’s view

“I find that juices and smoothies are a strong category, both in take-home and impulse. However, the take-home side is getting more challenging, simply because there’s more pressure on margins as people are increasingly looking for value.

“It’s a category that’s strongly linked to promotions. Brands such as Tropicana tend to be strong, and then you’ve got own-label products going steady in the background. It’s important to make sure the offer’s clear and concise. Be sure to have pack sizes right, too. A few manufacturers still offer lots of sizes, but haven’t worked out what the convenience market really needs.

“It’s good to offer some kind of meal deal - a sandwich, crisps and drink. People like it and it takes the heat off in terms of price acceptance.

“In the summer people aren’t so sensitive about price, and they come in with smiles on their faces. You’ll never hear me moaning about how hot it is!”

Julian Taylor-Green, Londis Lindford, Hampshire

This seemingly unquenchable desire for the exotic is also part of the reason coconut water has become such a big hit, with product introductions to the category more than quintupling in the past five years, according to Mintel. Giles Brook, Vita Coco ceo, says that independents are the backbone of the category’s success.

“We’ve managed to get into 4,500 independents and all the supermarkets,” he says. “Two-thirds of our sales are through independents, and that’s where we’ve built the brand.”

After rapid growth, Vita Coco is making a steady march into the juice aisle with its Vita Coco orange product.

“If you go round the world you see that coconut water is not a new product at all - it’s just relatively new to the UK. A lot of people start the day with coconut water, which is one of the reasons we launched the orange variant,” he explains.

Joining the party is new coconut water brand Invo, seeking shelf standout by highlighting its ‘fresh from the tree’ credentials.

Invo brand manager Timothea Horwell says that because Invo isn’t pasteurised with heat, it retains more of the health benefits that draw consumers to the drink in the first place.

“Coconut water is low in calories, rich in potassium and fat- and cholesterol-free. It’s healthier than a soft drink or juice, keeps us better hydrated, and has more beneficial effects than regular plain or bottled water,” she adds.

All juice

Stepping away from big flavours for a moment, the ‘100% juice’ trend is also gathering pace with brands keen to big up juice’s health benefits and distinguish them from concentrates.

“The launch of our 100% Juice range last year brought incremental younger, upmarket families to the brand,” explains Tara Levine, EMEA managing director at Ocean Spray. However, she adds that consumers “still wanted the option of chilled cranberry juice drinks”.

To keep these consumers in the loop, the brand has brought back its Cranberry Original and Light drinks, siting them alongside the 100% Juice option - packaged to remind shoppers that they account for one of the government’s five-a-day.

Because of the healthy edge, parents often opt for juices over carbonates for their children. So when choosing your range it pays to play on the category’s kiddie appeal.

“Keeping a range of lunchbox drinks such as Fruit Burst or Um Bongo is really important,” advises James Logan, commercial director at the Gerber Juice company. “This suits mums buying for their children’s lunchboxes and offers an on-the-go treat for the kids themselves.”

Dairy stories

With the soft drinks sector increasingly driven by health concerns, it’s nice to know that there are still some brands in the chiller for whom fun and indulgence are foremost. Take flavoured milk, a category that’s all about the instant impulse for something sweet.

“C-store shoppers buy flavoured milk because it’s a tasty and refreshing alternative to other soft drinks,” explains Yazoo brand manager Thuy Nguyen.

That’s not to say, however, that flavoured milk is devoid of any health benefits. In fact, as Nguyen points out, it can be a good way for some consumers to get a decent portion of the white stuff down them.

“For shoppers who are concerned about health, not everyone likes the taste of plain milk, so flavoured milk is an easy and tasty way to consume it,” she says.

Flavoured milk isn’t just designed for kids, either. New flavours are taking milk drinks in a more sophisticated adult direction. For example, Frijj has traded up its core line to include a Caramel Latte flavour. The company is confident that the product will attract new consumers to dairly drinks.

And for consumers who fancy a proper hit of caffeine with their milk, Vita Coco has brought Coco Café to the chiller.

“Following our success with Vita Coco Coconut Water, we’re excited to be pioneering a new category within the dairy fixture by offering natural hydration combined with natural energy through a combination of our Vita Coco Coconut Water, espresso coffee and a splash of semi-skimmed milk,” says Vita Coco ceo Giles Brook.

Junior choice

In the lunchbox league, Just Juice has always been a c-store winner, since it’s not available at the multiples. And now the brand is sweetening the deal with a pricemarked pack.

“Just Juice has a £1 pricemark on the 500ml PET and this is performing well,” says Logan.

“This is great value for a pure juice and also fits with the ‘round pound’ deals that independent stores are promoting.”

Jucee is also giving retailers more bang for their buck by making its cartons exclusively available to c-stores in a case of 18.

“Jucee is the UK’s fastest growing lunchbox drinks brand,” says Princes brand manager Graham Breed.

“The products were previously available only as a multipack in major retailers, but with the same eye-catching pack design with child appeal, these new single mini cartons are ideal for store owners looking to tap into impulse sales opportunities.”

Crush hour

Breakfast may be shoppers’ favourite time to sink a smoothie at home, but when they’re on the go they’re more likely to wait till the afternoon for a fruit fix to assuage the afternoon blood sugar slump.

“Smoothie consumption tends to take place in the afternoon,” says Tropicana group marketing manager Patrick Kalotis. “Providing two of your five-a-day, Naked is outperforming the category, driving frequency and value,” he adds.

For smoothie shoppers, fruit quotient is a key area, with three out of five smoothie consumers willing to pay more for a higher amount of fruit in their drinks, according to Mintel. However, it’s a category where the mults offer deep discounts, so c-stores could have to use promotions to help them stay in the game.

“Offer ‘meal deals’ so consumers visit several categories in one trip and potentially increase their spend,” advises Razin Ali, brand manager at Sunmagic, a brand that offers a full range of juices and smoothies.

“Additionally, changing drinks offers regularly is a tactical mechanic to keeping customers interested in the category.”

Ones to watch.

Juicy fruits

What can customers get for a quid these days? Well, thanks to a pricemark promotion, cost-conscious parents can pick up a 500ml pack of c-store exclusive (and lunch-time classic) Just Juice. It’s top news for anyone toddler-wrangling with thirsty little ones.

rrp: £1

tel: 01278 441 600

I should coco

Until fairly recently the only place you’d find coconut flavours around a c-store was in a Bounty chocolate bar or a bottle of Malibu. Thanks to celeb coconut water fans that’s all changed - and now you can have coconut at breakfast courtesy of this Vita Coco’s Orange addition.

rrp: £1.49

Shooting stars

Thought that modern kids spend all their time indoors, fiddling with their iPads? Not so, according to Robinson’s new ad for Fruit Shoot. The skate-park themed creative is designed to get kids moving, all hydrated by their favourite fruity drink, of course.

rrp: 85p

tel: 0845 7581781

Summer scorcher

Smaller is better for Coca-Cola Enterprises with a new 12-pack Oasis case format to help retailers save space. Pricemarked packs should also raise the temperature, with Summer Fruits, Citrus Punch and Blackcurrant Apple variants helping kids save their summer pennies.

rrp: 99p

tel: 08457 227 222

Sweet as can be

Stevia has been big news in the soft drinks category where it’s being used as a natural sweetener for carbonates. And now it’s made a move on the juice category, too, in Trop 50, a half-the-calorie-all-the-taste option that’s proved massive in America.

rrp: £1.19

tel: 0118 9306666