Orange juice has always been one of the healthiest items in the supermarket, but a new generation of juices fortified with calcium, vitamins and fiber is adding another dimension to the nutritional attributes of chilled juices.
The refrigerated orange juice category grew 2.9% at supermarkets across the country during 1994, according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago, while frozen juices were down 6.2%. The aim of the new nutritionally enhanced juices is to bring even greater sales growth to the category by appealing to consumers with a variety of health needs.
Retailers, however, are unsure whether the fortified juices can be more than a small segment of the juice category. Some of the obstacles to growth they see are the higher price tags that some of the juices carry, along with a difference in taste compared with the regular chilled orange juices.
"I think they [the new fortified juices] are fulfilling a niche. It is growing, but I don't see it ever overtaking the regular juices," said Dave Wolff, buyer for Hughes Family Markets, Irwindale, Calif.
"The new juices are creating interest, but I think the jury is still out as to whether people will supplement their diet through orange juice," said Paul Berger, vice president at Food City Markets, Harrison, N.Y. "I don't see these products taking over the category or rocking the market." Berger added that many consumers already may get their share of these nutrients. "I can see people saying, 'I already take a multivitamin or I already get enough fiber, so I don't need it.' "
Jay C Food Stores, owned by John C. Groub Co., Seymour, Ind., has opted not to add the new fortified juices to its chilled juice section, according to dairy buyer Larry Miller. The chain taste-tested the products among its employees and found some negative reactions, so for the time being has not added the new products to the cooler case. "Unless we get a lot of customer requests, there is a possibility we won't stock them," said Alice Thompson, advertising coordinator.
Only one of the calcium-fortified juices is currently carried by D & W
Food Centers, Grand Rapids, Mich., but there are plans to pick up the newly introduced Tropicana Products' Pure Premium Plus line of not-from-concentrate enhanced juices "in the near future," according to a source in the buying office.
Tropicana's Pure Premium Plus line is the first nationally distributed nutritionally enhanced juice to be made without concentrate and features three varieties fortified with either calcium, antioxidant vitamins or fiber. Berger said Food City Markets had carried this line for only two weeks when he spoke with SN, and said it is "really hard to judge it so far."
Other fortified orange juices have been on the market longer. For example, Tropicana, a subsidiary of Seagram Co. Ltd., has offered Plus Calcium and Plus Vitamins versions of its Season's Best line of juice from concentrate since 1993. And Coca-Cola Co.'s Minute Maid also offers its Minute Maid Calcium Rich orange juice as well as Minute Maid Reduced Acid and Minute Maid Pulp Free refrigerated orange juices from concentrate.
According to IRI data, Tropicana had the largest market share of the refrigerated orange juice category at the end of 1994 with 40.5%, up 9.1% from the previous year. Minute Maid had 21.9% market share, up 0.3%, according to IRI, and private-label products accounted for 21.4% of the market, down 5.7% from the previous year.
In the fortified orange juice category, Wolff of Hughes Family Markets sees the most consumer demand for the calcium-enriched refrigerated orange juices, which Hughes offers in both the Minute Maid and Tropicana lines. "Calcium does the best, followed by the vitamin-added juices," Wolff said.
The calcium-added juices also are the most popular fortified refrigerated orange juices at Valley Markets, Grand Forks, N.D., according to dairy buyer Roger Oppegaard. "The calcium juices really sell well. The juices with added vitamins are a little slow," said Oppegaard.
However, Oppegaard does not see the fortified juices overtaking the regular orange juice products in popularity. For example, a Sunny Delight product from Procter & Gamble with added calcium costs 20 to 30 cents more than the regular juice, and "we order the regular juice almost three times as much," said Oppegaard.
At Food City Markets, Berger has found Minute Maid's calcium-enriched juice to be a good mover, which he attributes at least partially to the fact it is "line-priced" with the other Minute Maid juices. "It moves about two-thirds as well as the regular juice and about equal to the Minute Maid Country Style [with more pulp]," said Berger. And when Minute Maid juices are on sale, the calcium-added juice is included, said Berger.
Several supermarket buyers pointed out that Tropicana's new Pure Premium Plus line is priced an average of 20 to 30 cents above the regular Pure Premium juices.
"I know they are running a lot of freestanding insert coupons on it," said Randy Scheckler, dairy and frozen foods merchandiser for Clemens Markets, Kulpsville, Pa., which has carried the Pure Premium Plus line since mid-February. "The coupons will help. Then we will have to see how that price point goes."
"There is always at least one orange juice on sale" in the refrigerated case, said Berger, which may create a reluctance for consumers to pick up the higher priced Premium Plus line.
Buyers agree that the refrigerated juice section still has growth potential. "We definitely do a good job on the chilled juices," said Scheckler of Clemens Markets. Oppegaard of Valley Markets noted: "We have a pretty big juice section here" because sales are so good.