Fruit Juice Australia has attacked the “demonisation” of the sub-category, which it claims is sending the wrong message to parents about sugar content.

The group, which represents about 90% of Australia's juice production volume, hit back today (27 August) at a media report highlighting claims that suggest apple juice has as much sugar as carbonated soft drinks. Australia's Age newspaper yesterday quoted the Dietitians Association of Australia as saying that drinking apple juice is “just like drinking Cola-Cola”.

The FJA argues that fruit juices are more nutritious than CSDs and contain naturally occurring sugar. 

“The continued demonisation of juice based on its sugar content is disappointing and sending a wrong message to people about the role of juice in the diet," said Fruit Juice Australia's CEO, Geoff Parker. "This is especially so for parents.”

Parker said that research shows children and adults that drink fruit juice have better diets, while in children, consumption is linked with higher intakes of essential vitamins and minerals.

“This should send a clear message that having a small glass of juice each day can be an important part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle,” Parker said.

Obesity concerns in Australia, where, according to the World Health Organisation in 2007, about two-thirds of adults are overweight, have pushed some drinks manufactures to offer more low- and no-sugar options.

Last year, PepsiCo released a stevia-sweetened Pepsi Next in Australia, the first time the company had used the natural extract in the brand.