The Grocer’s 2017 Top Products Survey, THE definitive guide to the current state of the UK’s grocery industry

Britain’s health kick has been both a curse and a blessing for juices & smoothies. Concerns over sugar have stopped many from buying. At the same time, new products carrying additional health and functionality claims have prompted many drinkers to think again.

This helps explain how Innocent has carried out one of the biggest coups of the year in overtaking PepsiCo’s Tropicana to become the sector’s top brand. Sales have surged £22.2m (10.5%) while its rival has suffered a decline of similar magnitude, down £22.8m, (10.2%), in spite of the March launch of the three-strong Morning Boost smoothie range made with juice, pureé and cereals and positioned as a functional mid-morning snack.

The health & wellbeing trend has been crucial to Innocent’s growth. “It’s been a huge driver for us,” says MD Nick Canney. “Drinkers are asking for more from smoothies, whether that’s added vegetables, new ingredients like matcha and baobab, or functional benefits like vitamins and protein.”

That PepsiCo’s Naked racked up even bigger growth than Innocent, pulling in the year’s sixth-biggest gain (a gargantuan £26m), is proof of the trend’s power. Naked is hoping to build on its success in smoothies with new cold-pressed juices that it says are “packed with weird and wonderful fruit & veg”.

Punters are prepared to pay more for such claims. Innocent’s average price has risen by 6.9% without impacting volume growth; Naked’s average price is up 7.5% yet the brand has still shifted an extra 5.5 million litres, a rise of 57%. “The significant price increase of smoothies stems from premiumisation,” says Nielsen senior client manager Laszlo Zsom, compared with only “moderate” inflation in juice drinks, where average prices are up 1%.

Prices, and margins, are also being pushed up by the growing distribution of smaller formats in the retailers, says one industry source. “Of course, smaller packs are higher margin products,” says the source. “The overheads will be the same, to a certain degree, for a 450ml or a 750ml SKU.”

Another factor that’s benefited the likes of Innocent, Naked and, to a certain extent, Tropicana has been their growing appearance in meal deals. Such deals have also helped push up average prices, as smaller single-serve formats are typically used in meal deal promotions. This has helped the brands offset rising cost pressures and dwindling space in the juices fixture in store.

“Inflation and the sugar debate continue to impact volume sales,” says Princes marketing director Jonathan Barr. “Brands have suffered losses due to the overall market decline, fixture space reductions, and the need to counter negative perceptions by educating consumers about the benefits of drinking fruit juice.”


innocent functional super smoothies

Functional juices by Innocent

This time last year, Innocent’s juice business was suffering as shoppers shied away from a category increasingly viewed as sugar-filled and unhealthy. The answer? Tap the functional trend with ‘juice with benefits’. Rather than removing ingredients and potentially cutting back on taste, this range extols the virtues of its added good parts (including more vitamins than you can shake a carton of Tropicana at), appealing to health-conscious customers seeking ‘positive nutrition’.


The Grocer Top Products Survey 2017: Up!