Manufacturers need to choose their words carefully when making the decision between going down the scientific claims route or just keeping their products' positioning natural

Do juices and smoothies have to contain more than fruit to be seen as an essential health option in today's market? It is true that juice and smoothie manufacturers are falling over themselves to tell you how healthy their product is, but is this enough?

For some, using the natural goodness of fruit is definitely sufficient for fulfilling consumer needs.

Take Innocent Drinks, for instance, whose co-founder Adam Balon says: "Some people take the science route but we have stuck with the more natural one."

The company's latest campaign reflects this approach, with one advert stating its smoothies are 'Nature's way of keeping you healthy. And the reason you've never seen a monkey on a rowing machine'.

Other companies, however, have adopted a more scientific approach to health. The new-look PJ Smoothies Supers range, for example, offers functional benefits.

"PJ Super Smoothies, such as Daily Detox and Probiotic Yoghurt & Strawberry, enable retailers to capitalise on the potential of the functional foods market," says Cara Beeby, PepsiCo trade marketing manager.

Heart health drink Sirco is another example. Before manufacturer Provexis launched Sirco at the start of this year, it spent nine months grappling with the language it should use to explain the benefits to consumers, according to marketing director Fiona Vigar. She says there are so many messages on health that companies have to ensure claims are both concise and credible.

"It is a cluttered and a confusing category and it is certainly down to brand owners to get better at explaining things," she says.

Sirco is the first functional drink to address 'sticky' blood or platelet aggregation, an issue beyond the ken of most consumers, so it is obvious why the language had to be simplified.

The drink contains Fruitflow, a bioactive extract from ripe tomatoes that helps to keep the blood healthy and boosts blood flow, which is vital for maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. It also carries on-pack endorsement from health charity Heart UK. Provexis markets its drink's property as 'thinning the blood naturally'.

The drink is available in two flavours - orange and blueberry & apple - and Vigar believes it offers an easy way for consumers to gain a specific health benefit, along with fruit portions. The company is now working to develop a drink that could aid cancer prevention.

Tropicana Essentials with Benecol was added to the brand's Essentials range in January, also in response to consumers' increasing concerns about heart health.

The range also includes Multivitamins, Calcium and Fibre variants, with each designed to provide an aid to specific health needs. According to PepsiCo, consumers are already aware that Benecol is the pioneer in cholesterol-reducing foods and the company is confident that its new line will be a useful addition to the range.

Another new kid on the functional block is the Sparky brand of food and drink products. Sparky-branded orange; pomegranate & apple; and blueberry & cranberry juices have recently been launched, both of which are rich in long-chain Omega-3, which has been linked with heart health. The juices come in 250ml and one-litre bottles.

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Focus on Juices & Smoothies (April 2006)