Last year market researcher Leatherhead reported that the global movement towards comfort eating in the recession actually prompted growth in some areas of the food and beverage market. In particular it noted that in the UK some companies had reintroduced discontinued lines that consumers remember from childhood.
Jochen Heininger, director product management beverage Europe at Wild, explained that when it comes to juices, there has been a shift in consumer fruit preferences since the 1990s and 2000s, when there was emphasis on the exotic. Now, they are leaning towards familiar, domestically-grown fruit products – “things you know from your grandma or grandpa’s garden”.
While the fruit is not necessarily sourced locally, as Wild uses a network of raw material suppliers, the emphasis is on familiar, home-grown flavours.
The company has been working on the concept for about 6 months. The development process involved scanning new product databases like Mintel’s GNPD and Innova for products made with garden fruits, then conducting lots of application trials and tastings.
“For fruit combinations, it is often a good idea to look at jams and marmalades,” he said.
The company has identified three garden fruit combinations that were the top performers in tastings: apple/cherry/plum, apple/red currant/rhubarb, and apple/apricot/quince.
Other mixtures are possible, however, and the three combinations are likely to be used as base ideas which will be adapted to suit customers’ precise requirements.
“In discussions new ideas will be born.”
He explained that while the taste of the product is the most important aspect to ensure repeat purchase of beverages, the colour of the final beverage product is also important.
“In discussions with partners we see it is good to have a colour range.” If a range contains flavours that are each a distinct colour, such as yellow, red and dark red, it is easier for customers to choose their favourite.
Wild is able to supply concentrate bases from 100 per cent juice, or the juice itself ‘not from concentrate’ (NFC)