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The PLMA (Private Label Manufacturers Association) hosted its Private Label Trade Show from 15-17 November this year in Rosemont, Illinois. Exhibitors from the global alcoholic drinks, beauty and personal care, consumer health, home care, hot drinks, packaged food, packaging, pet care, soft drinks, and tissue and hygiene industries were present to show the latest products available for a retailer’s private label programme. This article will focus on trends seen in coffee, juices, and plant waters.
As juice suppliers deal with rising consumer concerns about the sugar content in juices and juice drinks in some developed markets, they are emphasising value-added products that provide an additional benefit beyond refreshment. While demand for orange juice has been declining in the US, affluent consumers have been driving growth in cold-pressed juices, juice-based smoothies, and organic juices as they perceive these higher-priced items to be healthier and fresher than orange juice and apple juice. Sales of smoothies are booming in the US through both retail and foodservice channels. Juices that are marketed as being fresh have grown strongly at the same time that at-home juicing has increased. Recognising the growing interest in premium smoothies, especially the green varieties incorporating trendy vegetables such as kale and wheatgrass, a number of exhibitors showed green smoothies and organic juices. TreeHouse Foods introduced its first line of premium organic 100% juice smoothies at the show under the Orchard Fusion name. The Harvest Greens variety contains broccoli, kale, spinach, wheatgrass, and barley grass in addition to apple and other fruit juices. Barsotti Juice introduced a Twisted Greens smoothie containing blue green algae, broccoli, barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, spinach, and parsley with pineapple and other fruit juices.
A number of exhibitors focused on cold-pressed juices. In line with the fresh juice trend, cold-pressed juices that undergo HPP (high pressure processing) have become popular in many developed markets despite its higher cost. Producers of HPP juice tout its fresher taste and enhanced nutritional profile compared to juices that have undergone heat pasteurisation. Makers of juice-based smoothies have been one of the key users of HPP technology. But coconut water producers are now using HPP to distinguish themselves from heat pasteurised, shelf-stable competitors. Creative Food Concepts and Nosso Coco both introduced coconut waters produced using the HPP process at the shows.
Coconut waters have grown strongly outside their traditional markets of Brazil and Thailand, as marketers position them as “nature’s sports drink”, touting the juice’s high electrolyte content. A number of other plant waters, including maple, birch, and banana, have come onto the market in a bid to capitalise on consumers’ interest in refreshing beverages that are natural and low in calories. These plant waters have found favour with affluent, health-conscious consumers who like the idea of pure hydration with additional health benefits. At the PLMA Show, LiDestri introduced two Banana Waters – banana and peanut, banana and strawberry. A company representative for LiDestri stated, “We think that banana water will be the next generation coconut water”. He added that he thinks that millennials will respond favourably to banana water as a hydration beverage as it offers a high amount of potassium and electrolytes. The company also showed flavoured waters containing 15% aloe.
To better compete against coffee pod market leader Keurig Green Mountain Inc, makers of private label coffee pods are emphasising additional features beyond a lower price. A number of companies indicated at the show that they had introduced or were planning to introduce compostable or recyclable coffee pod options in the next few months. Consumers in the US have become more concerned about the environmental impact of using single-serve coffee pods. Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA launched the PURPOD100, a single-serve coffee cup that is claimed to be “The world’s first certified 100% compostable pods”. Mother Parkers Tea and Coffee featured its EcoCup Capsules that are claimed to be recyclable with a proprietary filter system. Pro-Line Packaging Inc showed its UpShot pod whose filter is made with recyclable #5 polypropylene. Offering unique flavours and varieties is another way for private label coffee pod makers to stand out. Trilliant Food & Nutrition introduced Study Fuel coffee pods that contain twice the amount of caffeine through the addition of botanical ingredients – guarana extract, green tea extract, and whole coffee fruit extract.
Private label products comprise a large section of the global hot drinks and soft drinks industries. In 2014, private label held a 5% value share of the US$694 billion global hot drinks and soft drinks market. Though this reflects a decline from private label’s 6% value share of 2009, private label has strong opportunities to grow in certain categories, including coffee pods. Due to the high unit prices of coffee pods compared to fresh ground coffee, private label has made big inroads in single-serve coffee pods. Private label grew its off-trade (retail) value share of fresh ground coffee pods at the global level from 9% in 2009 to 11% in 2014. Gains in the US and Western Europe have boosted private label sales. After being introduced in the US in 2012, private label coffee pods increased off-trade value share from 2% in 2012 to 11% in 2014, for total sales of US$452 million in 2014. In Western Europe, private label grew its value share of coffee pods from 10% in 2009 to 13% in 2014. Private label coffee pods are expected to continue to show good growth in the next few years as they offer affordable pricing and convenience to time-strapped consumers. The introduction of compostable and recyclable coffee pods is likely to allay many consumers’ environmental concerns about using single-use coffee pods.