- Ocean Spray has unveiled a Zero Sugar line of its flagship juice, sweetened with stevia leaf extract, in Cranberry and Mixed Berry varieties. The drinks contain 5 calories, zero grams of sugar per cup, and no added sugar.
- The offerings, which are rolling out in grocery stores this month, follow three other “better-for-you” zero sugar juice products the company debuted earlier this year: Immunity Cranberry Blueberry Acai, Immunity Orange Mango, which contain vitamins C and E, and Revitalize Cranberry Pineapple Juice Drink, which features electrolytes.
- As consumers look for healthier alternatives, juice has fallen out of favor with many because of its high sugar content, leading to an upheaval from brands who are racing to recapture its previous stature.
The juice category is feeling the effects of shifting consumer preferences, as drinks with a health halo take precedence. The average consumption of juice in the U.S. is projected to decrease 3.87% between 2023 and 2027, according to Statista data. In the last year, shelf-stable juice volumes declined 5.6% in the year ending August 13, despite prices increasing 12.7%, according to Circana data reported by BevNet.
The high sugar content of cranberry juice rivals the amount found in soda. An 8-ounce cup of Ocean Spray’s regular cranberry juice cocktail contains 25 grams of sugar, the same amount as a 7.5-ounce Mini can of Coca-Cola. Some studies have concluded that full-sugar fruit juice is even more hazardous to human health than other soft drinks like soda.
Ocean Spray sees the writing on the wall for the beverage segment and is working to evolve its product portfolio to fit shifting consumer desires.
“From full flavor blends to refreshing diet and now bold zero sugar, Ocean Spray is committed to developing product innovations that continually meet the needs and desires of consumers who are seeking out more options for their juice drink,” Trinh Le, Ocean Spray’s vice president of next-generation beverages, said in a statement.
Ocean Spray also sells a lower sugar Cran 50 cranberry juice, which contains 10 grams of sugar per 8-ounce cup, and a diet variety, which contains 1 gram of sugar per serving.
Other companies in the juice space are pivoting toward better-for-you formulations, or taking advantage of the desire for new alternatives.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama debuted better-for-you food and beverage brand Plezi Nutrition earlier this year, and launched a drink aimed at children which it claims has 75% less sugar than average leading fruit juices. In 2022, Kraft Heinz’s Capri-Sun reformulated its juice drink pouches to include monk fruit, which the company said reduced the sugar per serving in the drink by 40%.
Some juice makers are also looking to diversify the types of products they offer. Coca-Cola’s Simply brand expanded into cocktail mixers earlier this year, with three drinks designed to be consumed with or without alcohol.
Ingredient formulators are also working on ways to alter the health profile of juice. Earlier this year, Better Juice and Louis Dreyfus Company announced they developed an enzymatic process to turn juice sugars into beneficial nutrients. And CPG giant Nestlé announced in July it developed “breakthrough technology” to reduce sugar in ingredients like fruit juice by up to 30% without impacting taste.