Pressing for premium

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Related tags: Long mixed drinks, Juice

Pubgoers needn't choose the same old flavours — there are loads of new ranges out there The juice category has long moved on since the days of just...

Pubgoers needn't choose the same old flavours — there are loads of new ranges out there

The juice category has long moved on since the days of just orange, grapefruit, apple and, if you were lucky, pineapple flavours. Brands are upping their juice content, introducing 100% pure juices, adding value with vitamins and minerals, searching out new exotic ingredients, specifically functional healthy ones, and flavours.

"Functional benefits are a key trend — drinks that provide real or perceived benefits are a growth area," says Britvic's Paul Linthwaite. Premiumisation is the watchword.

Fitting in to this image is Britvic's new Lime Grove range. Developed to cater for the growing number of female consumers with a skew towards the 25 to 45-year-old age bracket, the range is free from artificial flavours, sweeteners and preservatives. "We believe we are offering a genuinely new and different option," says Linthwaite.

With a choice of 15 flavours, Pago Fruit Juices is unreservedly another premium fruit juice brand cutting in on the sector. The company is now working with WaverleyTBS on distribution. MD Tony Harwood asserts: "We don't even try to compete in the cheap and cheerful soft-drink marketplace — it's a waste of our time and resources. But 2007 and the first half of 2008 have seen a significant shift towards quality soft-drink options and we've benefited from that.

"It's partly to do with Government recognising the need to address the problems of obesity and the 'junk food/junk drink culture'. Parents are getting the message. As well as providing better quality food and drinks to their children, they're going for premium products themselves too — not just at home, but when they go out."

Harwood is passionate about extending choice to pubgoers. "Our aim is to get British people feeling comfortable going into a pub or bar and asking for a peach juice or an apricot juice rather than accepting orange or grapefruit juice as a norm." Regarding juices as mixers, he notes: "The trend away from 'shorts' and cocktails towards long mixed drinks has certainly worked in our favour."

In July and August the company is running a deal — buy three cases of 200ml and get a PoS kit, a long mixed drinks kit including bar runners, beer mats, long mixed drinks leaflets, stirrers, an apron and more.

The Feel Good Drinks Company, producer of all-natural still and sparkling juice drinks (al-ready sold in more than 5,000 on-trade outlets), is similarly keen to work with pub buyers to promote its drinks. Dave Wallwork, MD, explains: "There are branded backbar PoS kits available, and to ensure barstaff understand the range our team is happy to offer staff training.

"We have teamed up with some on-trade chains to run various meal deal activities that link Feel Good Drinks to healthy offers on the menu. There are even sale incentives for bar teams as well as wholesale promotions in the breweries to drive free-trade distribution."

Producer of premium presses and cordials Bottlegreen's on-trade manager, Alli Capon, says: "One of the most effective ways of getting to our potential consumers is through barstaff, with effective upselling and recommendation; selling a more premium brand can often create a greater cash margin for the outlets.

"By simply offering a drinks menu on the table or at the bar,

consumers themselves will realise that the outlet has more than just the usual standard soft drinks.

They will be more willing to try

different options that fit in with their healthier eating habits or drinking occasions. Sixty six per cent of our pub customers do not go to the bar."

Organic juices are very much part of the premium market. While pub food is undergoing a renaissance, with many outlets focusing on locally-sourced organic ingredients, it makes sense to provide an organic soft drink choice.

"Sales of organic food and drink in the grocery trade are showing substantial growth — around 20% year on year, with 70% of consumers buying organic products," says Mark Phillips, sales and marketing director for Grove Fresh. "People expect to be offered the same quality food and drink when they're out as they consume at home. Organic consumers tend to be more adventurous in their choice of flavours so we recommend hosts look beyond tried and tested varieties."

New for the summer season are organic smoothies, packed in 250ml bottles exclusively for the hospital/foodservice market. Grove Fresh aims to take a share of the rapidly-expanding smoothie market, which saw value sales growth of 42% in 2007.

Innocent, the UK's number one smoothie brand in the off trade, has worked with JD Wetherspoon for its airport and impulse sites, but has yet to commit itself to the on-trade. The company did explore working with pubs, but came up against the twin barrier of shelf life and distribution.

Tim Roberts, out-of-home team leader, would love to see his company's smoothies in pub chiller cabinets. "We believe there's an opportunity in pubs and we want to work with them, but licensees have to create the space to show what's on offer."

This means clever PoS material and attractive fridges. He also realises that licensees might be discouraged to stock smoothies because of the poor margins compared to dispense.

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