Fayrefield Foods is introducing a range of fruit drinks to the UK next month that contains exactly the same levels of nutrients as the equivalent fresh fruit, according to its makers.

Essential, which is manufactured by Portuguese company Compal and is already a success in its home country, will be targeted at consumers too busy – or lazy – to peel fruit, as well as on-the-go workers and children’s lunchboxes.

Marketed under the strapline ‘The essential way to five a day’, the Essential ‘fruit shots’ will initially be available in pear, peach, mango, pineapple, apple and strawberry flavours. They are due to hit Waitrose stores at the end of next month, priced at £1.89 for a three-pack, and are then expected to be extended to other retailers in late 2008 or early 2009. 

Each 110g bottle provided one of the recommended five-a-day fruit and vegetables, claimed Fayrefield Foods business manager, Patrick Brunt. 

One of the main benefits of Essential over fresh fruits was its long shelf life, according to Brunt. Retailers could be assured of a two-month lifespan, he said, adding that with millions of pieces of fruit being thrown away each day, Essential also presented a solution to the problem of fresh food wastage. 

“There’s a big growth in people wanting to eat more fruit and vegetables, but they find it difficult to fit in,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to increase consumption with a natural, healthy and convenient format.”

The natural health market is currently in 14.2% growth, according to Nielsen, with the category now worth some £220m. 

Since launching in Portugal 18 months ago, Essential has achieved 28% household penetration, Fayrefield reported. Essential is sold by retailers in Portugal and is included in McDonald’s Happy Meals there.