Category is holding its own, aided by the introduction of next-generation smoothie kits (no blender needed).
Bolstered by younger parents who tend to be more health-conscious than previous generations, frozen fruit continues to outperform the frozen department as a whole. During the 12 weeks ended Jan. 1, unit sales dipped 0.4% but volume edged up 1.2%, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI (iriworldwide.com), suggesting a slight shift toward larger, better-value packages. Dollar sales rose 9.1% versus the same period a year ago, as inflation continues to push prices up.
‘We found a new way to deliver the quality and ease of an out-of-home smoothie without the hassle and mess that comes with conventional, homemade smoothies.’
Millennial parents “are willing to pay a premium for healthy products,” says Gissel Lopez, sales manager with Del Carmen Foods, Calexico, Calif. It’s a trend she doesn’t see changing anytime soon — a belief echoed by many industry observers. In fact, the global frozen fruit market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.74% over the next few years, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com.
Increased demand for exotic fruits and year-round availability of non-seasonal fruits combined with “rising cognizance of associated health benefits” are all key factors driving frozen fruit market growth, according to a news release accompanying the report’s publication.
SMOOTHIE KITS GO NEXT-LEVEL
Due to the popularity of the segment, manufacturers are banking on the success of new products that meet consumers’ need for variety, health benefits and convenience — ideally in a single product. Nothing checks all of those boxes like smoothie kits. But suppliers are trying to make them even easier and more functional. To that end, San Clemente, Calif.-based Sambazon recently debuted a new format, Açaí Smoothie Cubes, which can be combined with any liquid in a blender or shaker cup. The product is available in two flavors, Mango & Açaí, with fiber and prebiotics to support gut health, and Mixed Berries & Açaí, with Vitamin C and antioxidants to boost immunity. Both contain 8 grams of sugar and 70 to 80 calories per serving.
“Finding a way to bring more convenience to the everyday smoothie routine was an intentional step for Sambazon,” said CEO Ryan Black in a press release. “By combining açaí with more familiar and popular fruits in an easy smoothie format, we hope to introduce even more people to the delicious powers of açaí.” The cubes rollout in January followed last fall’s addition of Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowls and Mango Passion Fruit Açaí Bowls to the company’s ready-to-eat bowl lineup.
Another company meeting growing demand for easy smoothie solutions is Vancouver-based Blender Bites, which recently launched one-step smoothie “pucks” that don’t require a blender. The newest Blender Bites variety, Daily Defen-C — a blend of peach, mango and apple — was just named a winner of Canada’s 2023 Best New Product Awards. The winning flavor, which contains functional ingredients such as probiotics, camu camu, and turmeric, is intended to provide immune system support. Like all Blender Bites products, it’s certified organic, vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, with no added sugars.
Yet another blender-free smoothie cube rollout came last fall from Nestlé USA brand Outshine. The new Smoothie Cubes are available in three functional flavors. The Go-Getter includes mango, banana, pineapple, papaya, date paste, beet juice, chia and B vitamins. The Glow To, a green smoothie, has banana, pineapple, mango, date paste, spinach, kale, kiwi, cucumber, and Vital Proteins brand collagen peptides. And The Gut Supporter blends strawberries, banana, coconut cream, carrot juice, date paste, beet juice and fiber. All contain a touch of chia seeds as well.
“Our consumers are constantly looking for convenient, nutritious options to support their busy lifestyles,” says Jamie Harbeck, Nestlé USA senior manager of new business ventures. “With Outshine Smoothie Cubes, we found a new way to deliver the quality and ease of an out-of-home smoothie without the hassle and mess that comes with conventional, homemade smoothies.”
A THIRST FOR CONVENIENCE
Another player in the smoothie kit arena, Durham, N.C.-based Seal the Seasons, offered some takeaways from the launch of its new functional Smoothie Kits, which combine family-farmed fruit with nutrient-dense cubes it refers to as “superfood gems.”
“The initial consumer response has been fantastic,” says CEO Patrick Mateer of the four-flavor multi-serve lineup (Super Greens Cleanse, Acai Antioxidant, Plant Protein Mix and Dragonfruit Probiotic Blend). “At demos, shoppers have told us they appreciate all of the hard-to-measure ingredients being pre-portioned in our superfood gems. [Combining them] with top quality fruit makes these smoothies so easy to make.”
Despite the interest in the smoothie cube and kits, Mateer says he’s still regularly hearing from buyers who feel they have limited smoothie options available to them in market. So he suggests grocers dedicate more space and marketing to that type of product.