New Drinks on the Block


With the millennial generation clamouring for healthier choices, cold-pressed juices and smoothies are turning up on menus across all segments of the restaurant industry. From QSR chains such as Starbucks to smoothie- and juice-centric brands such as Jamba Juice, Canadian consumers are slurping more blended drinks.

Research from Ipsos Reid shows smoothies are most popular among the younger generation — 21 per cent of smoothie drinkers are 18 to 24 years old. They also account for 11 per cent of all beverage consumption in Canada.

According to Suzanne Geel, VP of Marketing at Tampa, Fla.-based Monin, the benefits of smoothies have long been overlooked. “They are an ‘any time of the day’ snack, a breakfast, a dessert,” making the beverage easier to market, she says.

Smoothies and juices give restaurants more options for their drink menu and allow customers to mix it up by adding extras such as Greek yogurt to boost the nutritional value.

Insights from research company Technomic names strawberry-banana the perennial flavour combo, while mango and blackberry are rising stars.

Smoothies first started to make noise back in the early 1970s when Steven Kuhnau made drinks from frozen fruit, ice and fruit juice. Kuhnau opened The Smoothie King smoothie bar in 1973, which has since grown to 650 locations.

Smoothies have also made their way onto bar menus, says Geel. “You can add a small amount of rum and now you have an alcoholic beverage. Meanwhile, a new player on the restaurant scene, cold-pressed juices, have only recently started to gain traction. According to Pier-Luc Dallaire, GM of Marché Sous Chef in Westmount, Que., cold-pressed juice has climbed the ranks thanks to both its health benefits and its taste.

High in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, cold-pressed juice helps the body by protecting it from radical damage. It also helps prevent disease and illness, and allows the body to maintain a healthy pH balance — all while being absorbed into the body immediately and providing the benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Cold-pressed juices are made from fresh cold-pressed fruits and vegetables, which are crushed and pressed using a hydraulic press, which gives off little heat. (Heat can diminish the nutrients and enzymes contained in the produce).

Starbucks recently introduced a line of high-pressure processed cold-pressed juices as part of its Evolution Fresh juices. After chilling, blending and bottling juice, it uses a technology called High-Pressure Processing (HPP) to help retain the flavours and nutrients while maintaining food safety. Varieties include Defense Up, a fruit smoothie with orange, pineapple, mango, acerola cherry and a boost of vitamin C, or the Evolution Fresh Pineapple Coconut Water.

Smoothies and cold-pressed juices won’t be overtaking coffee’s popularity any time soon, but the trend is growing. “Fresh juice is more than 70 per cent of our sales and growing every week,” says Dallaire.

Volume 49, Number 3

Written By: Grame Garland

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