Vegetable juice
Processing techniques and ingredient innovation are transforming the juice category.

CHICAGO — Remember frozen juice concentrate? What about 64-oz cans of Hi-C, or when “pink” grapefruit juice was considered exotic? A lot has changed in the juice beverage business in the past 25 years, much out of necessity. The category needed a makeover to stay competitive and keep consumers drinking juice.

Today, juices are being used in combination with other better-for-you ingredients to improve their nutritional value. Many beverages emphasize ingredient sourcing while others promote the juicing process. In some instances, the juice serves as a flavor or sweetening ingredient to a different base beverage.

DanoneWave, White Plains, N.Y., for example, debuted a first for the fluid milk category about a year ago. Sir Bananas combines banana puree juice with reduced-fat milk. The ultra-pasteurized beverage is 20% bananas and comes in two varieties: Bananamilk and Chocolate Bananamilk. Sir Bananas is sweetened by the banana and a small amount of cane sugar, with natural vanilla rounding the flavor profile.

Sir Bananas bananamilk
Sir Bananas combines banana puree juice with reduced-fat milk.

New York City-based Rise Brewing Co., a manufacturer of nitro cold-brew coffees, is adding juice to its ready-to-drink coffees. Nitro Lemonade Coffee includes lemon juice and 2 grams of organic cane sugar to mellow some of the lemon’s sour profile. The Nitro Blood Orange is coffee, water and blood orange juice. Packaging for both varieties focuses on the fruit component.

Rise Brewing is not the only company combining two unlike beverages to make one interesting drink. With a tagline of “juice up your cold brew,” Upruit, Brooklyn, N.Y., starts with a base of organic cold-brew coffee sweetened with maple syrup and paired with cold-pressed juice. Before canning, the beverage is carbonated.

Upruit is making its debut in Meyer lemonade and tart cherry varieties. Tart cherry includes Fuji apple juice, too, for an approximate 37% juice content. Meyer Lemonade is about 15% lemon juice.