Dole expands into functional beverages and fruit bowls

Dive Brief:

  • Dole Packaged Foods has expanded into functional products with the launch of Dole Fruitify juices and Dole Essentials fruit bowls. Fruitify has three varieties that combine pineapple juice with ingredients such as turmeric, green tea extract and coconut water. The beverages contain 65% juice and have less than 100 calories per can, according to the company.
  • Dole Essentials fruit bowls are available in three varieties that mix chunks of pineapple, mandarin oranges or mixed fruit in 100% fruit juice with ingredients such as cucumber and mint, turmeric and green tea extract. 
  • Both Dole Fruitify juices and Essentials fruit bowls have no added sugar, helping bring the company closer to meeting its goal of eliminating added sugar in all of its products by 2025. The product launches come as consumers seek out beverages and foods with health and immunity benefits during the pandemic.

Dive Insight:

In recent years, juice has struggled with a reputation as a high-sugar, nutritionally questionable beverage. But the pandemic is providing a prime opportunity for drink manufacturers to recapture consumer interest.

Over the past year, people have begun adding more juices to their diets to boost immunity and wellness. According to SPINS data cited by Food Navigator, sales of conventional shelf-stable juice rose 9.5% in the 52 weeks ending April 18, while sales of refrigerated juices and functional beverages increased more than 12%.  

With the renewed interest from consumers in health and wellness during the pandemic, The Business Research Company expects the functional beverages market to reverse an earlier sales decline and grow at a rate of 8.07% from 2021, and hit $158.28 billion by 2023.

Targeting consumers’ biggest health concerns with functional ingredients while controlling sugar content can help put a new spin on the once stale juice space. Dole noted its Fruitify juices and Essentials fruit bowls are high in immunity-boosting vitamin C. Turmeric — an ingredient in both lines is touted for its immunity and anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidant content, and green tea, has been noted for its benefits to the immune system. Coconut water, used in Dole’s fruit bowls and new Fruitify Replenish juice variety, is also known for its antioxidant and hydration properties.

The lack of added sugar will make the items appealing to consumers who are trying to cut down on their intake of the sweetener. Studies in recent years have highlighted juice as a problematic beverage due to its serious sugar punch. A 2019 published in JAMA Network found that each 12-ounce daily serving of fruit juice is associated with a 24% higher mortality risk. 

Drink makers have been retooling their offerings to address this issue. Last year, Ocean Spray partnered with Amai Proteins to create a cranberry juice with at least 40% less sugar. 

Juice waters have also emerged as a new segment within beverages, offering hydration with a splash of flavor. PepsiCo’s Frutly line, which debuted this past February and targets hydration for teens, has 60 calories per 12-fluid-ounce serving with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.