For the past three to four years, sales of conventional juice have fallen 5-8% annually in part because it is being demonized for too high of sugar and people are overlooking the nutrient density of the beverage, said Matt McLean, CEO and founder of Uncle Matt’s Organic.
He explained that “it just takes more education for people [to realize] orange juice is nutrient dense” with vitamin C, niacin, folate, heart-healthy antioxidants and other components the body needs. Plus, he adds, the sugar in orange juice is fruit sugar, which breaks down in the body differently than the sugars in soda.
“We believe the trend will eventually change,” similar to how Americans’ views on fat have evolved over the years from shunning all fats to realizing some fats are healthy and necessary for the body, he said.
For support, he points to how sales of his organic orange juice are running counter to the current trend – growing 30% annually for the last five years.
One way Uncle Matt’s Organic has achieved this growth is by launching value added juices that appeal to consumer desire for functional foods and beverages.
For example, this year it launched two new juices featuring the probiotic GanedenBC30 – Orange Turmeric and Orange Coconut.
Uncle Matt’s added probiotics to the two juices because they help support a healthy gut, which in turn helps people better absorb food and nutrients to stimulate immunity and fight disease, McLean said.
“So, orange juice being a natural carrier of a nutrient dense healthy beverage, if you add in the probiotic piece, it is a one plus one equals two,” he added.
McLean also explains that Uncle Matt’s Organic chose GanedenBC30 because it is a spore former, which means it is activated in the gut and unaffected by the pasteurization process. Also, he said, Ganeden has more than 20 clinical trials to prove the probiotic helps support immunity and digestion.
“They are doing the research for us, which is great,” he added.
Other functional ingredients
In addition to the probiotic, the 500 mg of turmeric per serving of the Orange Turmeric is a way to “drink” a daily supplement of an inflammation and disease fighting spice, McLean said.
The addition of coconut water to the Orange Coconut also allows the firm to reduce by a about one-third, the calories per serving to about 70, McLean said.
It also brings down the sugar content 40%, he added.
Plus, because coconut water is actually a juice, blending it with orange juice still allows the firm to make a 100% juice claim, he said.
Looking forward, McLean said Uncle Matt’s Organic will explore other functional ingredients that fit naturally with orange juice and will help set the brand a part from the competition as “cutting edge.”