While recent data shows positive increases in the juice category, teas rolled in flat.
Aseptic juices recorded dollar sales of $53.8 million, a gain of 24.3%, and unit sales of 17 million, up 16.8%, for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 1, 2023, according to data from IRI. Bottled juices registered dollar sales of $1.68 billion, an increase of 2.4%. Canned juice sales hit $342 million, a 5.3% improvement. Refrigerated juices and drinks saw sales of $709 million, a dip of 1.7%, while sales of canned and bottled tea reached $1.58 billion, an increase of 1.7%.
According to Abigail Benn, communications specialist for NielsenIQ in Chicago, the total U.S. convenience store channel for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 31, 2022, saw sales of fruit drinks total $1.5 billion, a gain of 8.5%. Fruit juice registered sales of just over $798 million, down 2.3%. Fruit and vegetable blend drinks had sales of nearly $158 million, a gain of 0.9%. Lemon and lime juice recorded more than $4 million in sales, up 5.4%. Liquid tea sales were $1.5 billion dollars, a gain of 2.9%, while ready-to-drink (RTD) chai tea reached sales of just over $75,000, down 29.9%.
“Consumers re-engaged with juice, especially orange juice, because of its high vitamin C content,” said Corinne Gangloff, marketing manager for The Freedonia Group, a division of Rockville, Md.-based MarketResearch.com. “Juice sales were revived by a boom in at-home breakfasts and remote learning.”
At the same time, according to Gangloff, tea sales jumped, though not as much as some other categories. “While packaged tea was consumed for its health and immunity benefits, RTD tea was hurt by limited out-of-home consumption and greater consumer preference for RTD coffee.”
But not everyone is seeing the uptick in juice sales.
“Sales of fruit beverages have remained soft overall as higher prices, high sugar content and minimal innovation have worked against the category,” explained Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC).
He noted sales of RTD tea have been soft in recent years, potentially overshadowed by the growing RTD coffee segment, where more innovation and new product launches are taking place.
Meanwhile, at Yatco Energy, juice sales are looking up.
“Juices have made a comeback due to better-for-you products coming to gain marketshare for consumer spending,” said Hussein Yatim, vice president for Yatco Energy in Marlborough, Mass., which operates 18 Yatco Food Mart convenience stores. “Tea has provided a caffeine alternative for those that drink coffee.”
Sales of juices and teas both remain steady and consistent, said Sam Odeh, president of Power Energy Corp. in Elmhurst, Ill., which has 1,359 sites in nine states, 96 of which are corporately owned, under the Power Mart, Power Market and Powmaro’s banners.
Seasonality is still a factor. “While teas slow down in winter, juices take off in the winter, especially 100% juices,” he said. “Unfortunately, the supply chain is not meeting the demand. We are optimistic in our sets, having just completed our reset for 2023 in Illinois.”