Juices have had a challenging time due to consumer concern over their often high sugar content. We have worked with fruit juice and beverage manufacturers to evaluate new sweetener alternatives and functional ingredients, and we know developing a flavor profile is an art form. The Jan/Feb issue of Fruit Juice Focus (http://www.fruitjuicefocus.com/latest-issue/) has an interesting interview with Philip Coverdale of GlobalData that addresses changes in juice consumption. The whole interview is worth reading as it covers consumer trends visible all over the food and beverage industry, not just juice, such as consumer interest in premium ingredients, probiotic benefits, and functional spices and botanical extracts.

One trend of particular interest is “adultification,” which Coverdale notes in relation to soft drinks—think all those cool artisan-style offerings from Grown-up Soda, Sipp, and Dry Soda. He mentions that in Europe there has been a significant increase in alcohol avoidance across most demographics, including millennials. For juice companies, this move points to an exciting opportunity to formulate alcohol alternatives, destination drinks that folks would not feel silly ordering at a bar or restaurant while out with friends or on a date.

The U.S. has not yet seen the same decline in alcohol consumption as in Europe, at least looking at the population as a whole. Sparkling wine and spirits, in particular, are enjoying strong consumption growth, as hard cider is also seeing. On the dark side, however, U.S. alcohol-related ER visits increased from 3 million to 5 million from 2006 to 2014, according to NIH, an increase concentrated among adult drinkers; meanwhile, teenagers showed a significant decrease in binge drinking. Let’s look down the road a bit: The pendulum will shift away from heavy alcohol consumption as current adults grow up a little and adults-to-be walk a different path than their parents (let them think they’re rebelling).

So, juice makers: What intriguing beverage options will be there to make the transition enjoyable? Bonus points if it helps us metabolize nachos.

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