Natural trumps health claims in adult soft drinks NPDs, analyst

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Soft drink

Health and wellness positioning based on growing consumer awareness of inherent properties such as antioxidants along with provenance is proving a market driver in the adult soft drinks sector as it navigates the challenges posed by EU health claims regulation, claims a Mintel analyst.

“In some parts of Europe, particularly in Spain and Germany, we now quite commonly see products with antioxidant flashed on their labels as a way of quite quickly attracting the consumer to the fact that this is a health positioned adult juice drink,”​ said David Jago, Mintel’s director of innovation and global insight.

He gave an overview of the emerging adult soft drinks sector at the virtual event, DrinksIngredients2010, last week, and showed how drinks makers are aiming to meet the modern adult consumer’s desire for alternatives to alcohol, tea and coffee in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle desire.

According to Jago, global launches of fortified versions of these adult orientated drinks such as products with added vitamins have fallen by 15 per cent during the period from January 2007 to March 2010.

“This indicates that health and wellness focussed development in this segment is no longer about products with added benefits or plus claims. In fact, the real star performer in the area of on-pack claims are those products positioned as additive-free, organic or natural,”​ noted the analyst.

‘Natural’ claims consistently lead the market, accounting for 45 per cent of adult soft drink product introductions over the past three years, continued Jago.

In fact, adult soft drinks with no-additive label claims have grown from just nine per cent in 2007 up to 14 per cent of all launches now.

Within that natural group, organic introductions still remain quite strong despite the economic downturn seen in many markets. Although sales value in organic is relatively flat in many countries, the level of activity in terms of new organic beverage product launches is buoyant,” ​he said.

NPD in functional soft drinks with claims that go over and above basic nutritional claims shows some growth, said Jago, but it is still niche with fewer than 10 per cent of all NPD launches of soft drinks over the three year period having this positioning.

Satiety and weight management claims in some markets are emerging but also remain niche areas, while mood enhancement products such as energy drinks are performing well and relaxation beverages, in particular, have been a key focus of NPD targeting adult consumers.

“The economic downturn might be a key driver in the growth in relaxation drinks with consumers looking to de-stress but the buoyancy here has also been fuelled by the experimental and experiential consumer seeking a moment of escapism or retreat from day to day pressures,”​ claims Jago.

Low-in or minus groups of claims such as low sugar and low calorie products are now seen on 40 per cent of drinks coming to market, said Jago, but he notes that over the three year time period the level has been gradually tapering off, indicating declining influence for these type of claims across all segments of the adult soft drink market.

And, the Mintel analyst forecasts that ‘natural’ sweeteners are likely to perform better than artificial sweeteners in this market with purity attributes critical. “The level of NPDs around stevia, following the ingredient’s approval in Europe, should prove interesting to watch in this context to see whether it comes through as strongly as it has in the US,” ​said Jago.

The analyst also notes that a focus on authenticity and quality of ingredients, particularly the provenance of all the ingredients used from the water to the fruits and herbs, will further encourage adult consumers to trade up to more premium offerings in this sector.

David Jago presented a webinar on this topic at’s first Virtual Conference and Expo, DrinksIngredients2010, on 27 May 2010. The show is now available on demand until 27 November 27, 2010, so if you wish to register to enter the event and hear this talk and other webinars as well as visit trade booths, simply click here

If you are one of the registrants for the live event, you can now re-enter ​the show to again hear all the presentations and Q & A sessions - simply use the same log-in details.

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