FRUIT BEVERAGE SALES HIT RECORD

NEW YORK -- Riding on the success of ready-to-drink, single-serve fruit-based drinks, the fruit beverage category had record sales last year, passing the three billion gallon milestone, according to a recent study conducted by Beverage Marketing Corp., a leading beverage industry consulting and data resource here.According to Beverage Marketing, over 475 new fruit and vegetable beverages were introduced

NEW YORK -- Riding on the success of ready-to-drink, single-serve fruit-based drinks, the fruit beverage category had record sales last year, passing the three billion gallon milestone, according to a recent study conducted by Beverage Marketing Corp., a leading beverage industry consulting and data resource here.

According to Beverage Marketing, over 475 new fruit and vegetable beverages were introduced last year, with many made from exotic tropical fruits including papayas, guavas and mangoes, and designed to appeal to the adult and Hispanic markets. Growth is expected to continue at a rapid pace, reaching 4.2 billion gallons by 1999.

But while fruit-based drinks are increasing in popularity, 100% juices are actually losing market share, said Hellen Berry, a Beverage Marketing vice president.

"The 100% juices are actually down compared to 1993 in volume turns. Fruit juices were down 0.3% in terms of millions of gallons, and drinks were up 11%. In dollar terms juices grew by 1.4% and drinks by 12.4%," Berry told SN, noting that juices still outnumber drinks by about two to one.

Orange is still the favorite juice, capturing 57.7% of all sales. Apple juice comes in second with a 14.8% share and is the leading shelf-stable juice. It is followed by blends of flavors. In the drink category, fruit punch is the leader, followed by cranberry blends and lemonade.

A product has to contain a minimum of 10% juice to be considered a fruit drink, otherwise it falls into the New Age category, she said.

On the shelf-stable side of the business, declines were seen in cranberry products, which dropped from 20.8% to 17.4% of the market. However, the increase in single-serve items and the success of items like Tropicana Twisters have breathed new life into the canned and bottled juices segment.

"Cans and bottles had been on the decline for the past few years, but they still comprise 86.3% of the category and they are beginning to make a comeback. In 1994, cans and bottles were up by 3.9%. Aseptics grew by 9.8%, but aseptics only comprise 13.7% of the category," Berry said.

The vegetable side of the business continues to decline, Berry said. In 1993, the segment saw a 1.4% decline, which grew to a 3.5% drop last year.