The Art of Juicing: A raw trend
As consumers follow in the footsteps of celebrity diet specialists, raw vegetable and fruit juices are becoming more popular than ever. Charlotte Richardson Andrews looks at this growing niche for manufacturers
Reports indicate that our thirst for fresh, raw juices is on the rise. The reasons behind this, explains Rose Aaldean, co-founder of UK-based juice company Mello, are threefold.
"Firstly, the general public is more health conscious than it used to be," says Rose. "Secondly, celebrity influence has a great deal to do with it; social media now allows celebrities to update their followers on everything they consume to stay in good shape - and raw juices have become a celebrity favourite.
Finally, people are becoming more aware of what is in their food, due to fiascos like the horsemeat scandal. This means they are taking the time to read nutritional labels and are realizing that the juices they thought were healthy are packed full of sugar."
Raw trends: a growing appetite
Aarti Bhanderi-Shah, CEO of Aartizen, a UK-based health and wellbeing brand, also believes health benefits are a major factor in our growing appetite for raw juices. "People realise the positive impact of a healthy diet," states Aarti. "We all know the importance of eating healthy foods, but there is no point washing down a salad with 'diet' drinks laden with artificial sweeteners."
The discernible growth in the raw juice market was the affirmation Rose needed when setting up Mello, a family-run business. "Our extensive research indicated a significant gap in the drinks market for raw, fresh juices and a very clear gap for fresh melon juice - which was surprising seeing as melons are the number one-selling exotic fruit in the UK," says Rose.
The Mello business, which boasts the accolade of selling the UK's first and only range of 100% raw fresh melon juices, began in the heart of the Aaldean family home: the kitchen.
Rose says: "About two years ago, while making a huge mess cutting, peeling and deseeding a watermelon to throw into the juicer, we started to think how great it would be if we could buy it ready-made to avoid all the time and hassle of making it ourselves. That's where Mello started."
Rose believes the Aaldean family's multicultural background gives them an insight into the art of juicing, stating: "Exotic fruits and juices have always been part of our diet ¬- with melons in particular being a firm favourite for their mouth watering flavours and amazing health benefits."
An eye for nutrition: informed choices
While the Aaldeans have put their multicultural palette to good use, Aarti has also utilised her skillset, bringing a professional eye for nutrition to Aartizen products.
"I am training to be a nutritionist, so I'm passionate about helping people to make informed choices about the food and drink they consume. I see a huge opportunity for healthy beverages that are more than just flavoured water. Fruit and vegetable juices are a convenient way of getting your dose of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants."
The use of vegetables in juices, alongside more traditional fruits, reflects a growing trend. "Vegetables are packed with nutrients and tend to be lower in natural sugars than fruit," explains Aarti. "We're finding green juices, containing ingredients such as kale, spinach and parsley, particularly popular right now; some people find it easier to drink a green juice than work their way through a bowl of leaves and pea shoots.
"Our green juice, which is made from apple, cucumber and kale, is a best-seller, while beetroot juices are popular with sporty people as beetroot has been proven to boost stamina. Superfoods such as wheatgrass are starting to become more mainstream, but they tend to be quite expensive."
Balancing the price: negotiating the process
Pricey ingredients aren't the only cost juice producers must deliberate over. The varying technologies available to juice manufacturers - and the respective processes they employ - must also be negotiated. While a large number of current juices on the market are pasteurised, Mello prefer to use a technique known as high pressure processing (HPP).
"We knew we wanted to capture all the raw goodness of the melon in a bottle," explains Rose. "HPP essentially involves juicing fresh melons into bottles and placing them under very high-pressured water. The pressure prevents microorganisms from developing, while capturing the same delicious taste and outstanding health benefits that you get from a whole melon."
Using HPP means each bottle of Mello is 100% raw and natural, with no additives, preservatives or added sugars. Aartizen also employ the HPP method, reaping the same benefits. "It sounds a bit sci-fi, but it's quite an innovative process. The final result tastes a lot more fresh, and has more vitamins and minerals - especially vitamin C, which is destroyed by pasteurisation."
HPP is an expensive alternative to pasteurisation, resulting in a higher RRP, but both Rose and Aarti feel confident that consumers understand the benefits of paying extra for premium juices. "We believe that as consumers discover more about the benefits of raw juices such as Mello, traditional heat pasteurised drinks will eventually become a thing of the past," says Rose.
Rising demand: expanding the raw juice range
While older production techniques may be falling out of favour, the demand for juice shows no signs of abating - decidedly good news for forward-thinking start-ups like Aartizen.
"Raw, fresh juices are still a fairly new concept in the drinks market," says Rose. "But there has certainly been a growth in the number of brands launching new ranges of fresh juices, and reports suggest that the value of the drinks market is set to steadily grow over the next few years."
Aarti has an entrepreneurial approach to juices, and plenty of ideas for unusual, innovative flavours. She's developing a number of new products for the future, and is particularly enthusiastic about experimenting with a certain, golden spice. "I think turmeric has lots of potential as a new beverage ingredient. The health benefits are huge."