30 Jul 2018 --- The awareness of health goes hand in hand with the demand for beverages containing fewer calories, according to Kai Oliver Antonius, Chief Sales Officer (CSO) of Austria Juice. 100 percent and 50 percent juices have experienced a decline in Europe and Antonius believes this is down to the fact that consumers are making choices directed towards water-based beverages while delivering a lower juice concentrate. The needs of the market can, therefore, be embedded into a new generation of juice flavors and the demand for natural ingredients enhances this.
For Austria Juice, this creates many opportunities, which are geared up to see significant growth in this space, and it is not just opportunities in juice-based beverages that the company sees potential in.
“The calorie intake through beverages is something the consumers are thinking about more and more,” Antonius tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “On the back of this, there is a trend for sparkling mineral waters which have higher carbonation rates, so consumers are still getting that fizzy hit,” he notes.
In innovation and R&D, Antonius sees new opportunities and possibilities to incorporate flavors extracted from fruit juice to the soft drink industry. “We see continuous development in this area. Traditionally we have been very active in the Middle East and African markets and we are now developing emulsion and dispersion technologies, meaning that we can improve and open doors for cloudy-based beverages in Europe,” he notes.
Austria Juice is mainly focused on beverages and juice innovation, but the company is now seeing further possibilities in its flavors. “Our flavors are an interesting area of development. We can offer our knowledge to other markets outside of beverages. We are targeting which kind of flavors are more appreciated, our ability now to steer this very nicely also enables us to expand our activities into new areas that we haven’t targeted before,” Antonius explains.
The need for natural concepts and ingredients are also much higher in Europe than in the rest of the world. “The main differences in flavor profiles are acceptance declarations that are used in final beverages. We have a lot of business in Germany, for example, and what comes with that, of course, is considerable challenges in what we can declare. Naturality is a high priority in all of the European counties,” he explains.
Plant-based and organic are also trends that present opportunities for Austria Juice. “We have increased a lot of our work with beverages that are 100 percent organic or leading to organic. This is becoming more and more a topic for our clients and we are producing not only partially concentrated juice in the direction of organic we are also producing organic in a way that is sustainable for our clients,” Antonius says.
Cold-brew and RTD teasClick to Enlarge
Meanwhile, Austria Juice is also offering solutions for cold brew coffee extracts, that be combined with various juices and “cold brew is definitely a topic to watch out for,” he confirms.
“Black tea is not so much of a trend anymore,” claims Antonius. “Consumer are very aware to the fact that there is now much more choice available in this tea sector as they moved to specialized drinks. Tea and fruit combinations are much more prevalent and there are unlimited possibilities across the sector,” he notes.
“Black tea with lemon started this trend, but now people are more interested and experimental with red fruit combinations, for example, which often dominate tea varieties in Europe.”
Austria Juice is one of the major producers of red fruit concentrate in Europe, so this bodes very well for Antonius. “Anything in that direction of forest berries to blackberries, cherries strawberries, is where we come in – through the production of our concentration we can continue the process and get it into a fine beverage that contains a certain proportion of juice and a flavor.”
“Our possibilities are endless – we can integrate the fruit and flavors up until the finished product – we can have any flavor fusion out of our own production process,” he explains.
“Herbal extracts are also very interesting – we see herbs as part of mineral waters, combinations of fruit juices that could be integrated or embedded into a beverage base. For example, we often see lavender extract as an ingredient and two years ago this would not be the case. Now, it has become commercially successful,” says Antonius.
“We see a big potential on behalf of our creative department where we are also tackling and focusing on not only juice concentrate, but the final drink in that regard,” he adds.
“As more and more people are avoiding calorie intake, there is a higher interest in fusion flavors that are not necessarily connected with calories. People are limiting their alcohol intake, so that is also a topic for the future and encourages the movement of sophisticated adult beverages.”
For Antonius, Austria Juice is not strictly a juice concentrate producer as the company “has really evolved to become a beverage producer and a good development partner for the industry.”
“We are going far beyond juices and also focusing on our sustainability goals,” he concludes.
By Elizabeth Green
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