Chiquita predicts bright future for smoothies

Chiquita believes there is a "big future" ahead for the fresh fruit smoothie market after the recession, as long as consumers are well informed by the industry.

Chiquita’s Patrick Wauters told the Freshconex Business Forum in a presentation entitled Innovations in Marketing for Fresh Produce Convenience that the fruit industry was now entering a very competitive environment that was out of its comfort zone and part of the snack sector.

He told delegates: “Convenience is still very important; some people said it was just a passing trend, but it is here to stay. Look at the petrol stations, the quick-service restaurants and the vending machines - fresh healthy food is not easy to find, but we should make sure it is. In 2005, in the UK, smoothies were unheard of but by 2005 everyone was writing about them and it quickly became a top-ranking sector. Then 2009 hit.

“But today most consumers in the UK have still not even tried smoothies. Recession hit the smoothie market hard and volume sales were down 33 per cent in 2009. But despite the recession, the expected - which was that discounted and value brands would take over the smoothie sector - did not happen. Premium still led the way, which shows that price is not the key driver for success and will not be in the future.”

Wauters maintained that health was the key driver for purchase, but the industry had to turn smoothies into something the consumer needs for their health benefits and not just a luxury item or treat.

“We believe there is a big future for smoothies out there, but there is a lot to be done,” he added. “We need to make them much more of an everyday purchase. People tend to buy them only when they think they deserve a treat. You find smoothies all over the supermarkets; in the fruit and vegetable aisles, in the dairy section, at the check-out - that doesn’t help consumers find them. We need a clear smoothie convenience shelf. We have to make smoothies available out of the home.”