“Healthy convenience” drives smoothie sector

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 15th September 2008

Smoothies

UK consumption of smoothies grew by almost 40% to reach 75 million litres in 2007, generating a retail market value of £319 million, according to the latest ‘UK Smoothies’ report from leading food and drink consultancy Zenith International.

Sales have witnessed strong growth since the introduction of the smoothie concept to UK consumers nearly 15 years ago, yet the category remains a relatively niche area at 1.2 litres per person last year. “High retail prices and concerns over calories do not appear to have dampened enthusiasm for smoothies as consumers continue to embrace their ‘healthy convenience’ proposition,” commented Zenith Market Intelligence Director Gary Roethenbaugh. “The development of innovative flavours, ingredients and packs has also acted to broaden consumption occasions and widen appeal, particularly for fruit based offerings.”

Pure fruit smoothies remained dominant in the sector, representing almost 90% of sales in 2007 – highlighting the fact that health benefits are taken into account when consumers purchase products in the category.

Other key findings from the 2008 UK Smoothies report included:

* Chilled products remain dominant, maintaining popularity over ambient alternatives.
* Cartons of 1 litre and above now account for over 50% of volume, reinforcing the recent advance of multi-serve formats.
* Innovation remains key to the growth of the smoothie segment.
* Strong future potential is foreseen as manufacturers focus on generating mass appeal.

So far, the category has been led by small to medium sized enterprises, but competition has now intensified from larger manufacturers and private label alike. Indicative of the interest of the larger manufacturers was the deal made earlier this year by Nestlé with Boost Juice to produce smoothies under the Boost brand name. The manufacturing giant realised the potential of the sector and teamed with Australia’s largest juice bar franchise in April, with the products now sold in some of the UK’s leading supermarkets.

With public policy campaigns advocating the role of fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet, smoothies are well placed for continued growth. Looking beyond the current credit crunch, UK smoothie sales are projected by Zenith to pass 120 million litres and £500 million by 2012.