THE anti-sugar lobby may be damaging consumers’ health by targeting fruit juices. That’s the word from Refresco Gerber, the soft drinks manufacturer, packager and distributor behind Del Monte, Sunny D, Sunpride and others.
Refresco Gerber packs 654m litres of juice and juice drinks every year and is the largest juice and juice drinks bottler in the UK. It claims to have a 46% share of the market.
Commercial director James Logan explained: “We are working to reduce sugar in all of our own branded juice drinks by 8-10%. We are also working in partnership with our own-label and branded customers
to achieve similar sugar reductions across their own drinks ranges, some of which are already available. Others will be on shelves in the next six months.
“A glass of pure juice per day is a natural and healthy drink to consume in conjunction with a healthy breakfast. People find it a challenge to consume all the recommended five a day and juices offer an easy way to consume one of the five a day with the benefit of vitamins, antioxidants and flavonoids.
“Drinking juices in moderation is the answer, not cutting out juice which will prove more detrimental to consumers’ health.”
Logan points out that the Del Monte Naturally Light range, which uses the plant-based sweetener stevia, was launched in 2012. Other NPD, such as the lunchbox carton brand Fruit Burst, uses the artificial sweetener sucralose.
“The solution is not to simply cut out sugar from drinks overnight. It has to be a gradual process of re-educating people’s palates. Taste is of paramount importance to consumers so we need to achieve the best taste with less sugar while reducing people’s sweet taste expectations.”
Pure orange and apple continue to dominate juice and juice drink sales, worth £689m and £216m respectively according to Nielsen. However sales of both are down by around 4% by value year on year while orange and apple blends are both up 14%.
Pineapple blends and mango are the fastest growing flavours.
• Refresco Gerber’s recent acquisition, cherry juice drink brand Cherry Good, has been repackaged to make it easier to find on shelf. The full range now includes the ambient products Cherry Good, Cherry Good Light and Cherry Good to Go. Cherry Good Select sits in the chilled aisle.
Christine Fox, marketing manager at Refresco Gerber, said: “Customers felt the old design was difficult to read, had poor shelf stand out and was hard to differentiate.”