As a result of significant price reductions, the popularity of chilled juices among UK consumers is growing rapidly. According to a new report from beverage industry analysts Canadean, chilled juices now account for over 30% of total juice consumption, compared with 25% just four years ago.

The report estimates that consumption of "short-life" juice (which mainly comprises chilled juice) reached over 350m litres in 2002 - a 17% increase on the previous year and an impressive 48% higher than in 1999.

Chilled juices have traditionally commanded premium prices compared with the long-life segment. However, the erosion of this differential through intense price competition has attracted new consumers of chilled juice. Whilst chilled juice increased by some 50m litres in 2002, consumption of long-life alternatives receded by around 35m litres.

Delivering a healthy future The growing trend towards healthy lifestyles is helping to drive the UK juice market forward. Chilled juice, which enjoys a healthy image, has increased in doorstep delivery volume (by milkmen) by more than 5% since 1999. This may indicate that it is slowly replacing milk as a breakfast drink. Furthermore, being lifestyle led, consumption of juice appears less seasonal than other soft drinks sectors. In 2002, the quarter with lowest demand still provided around 25% of total annual consumption.

Given this sound platform, the future for juice looks promising in the UK. The report predicts that the total market will continue to grow in 2003, further exceeding 1.1 billion litres. Chilled juice should continue to prosper at the expense of long-life with market share likely to increase to more than 35% in 2003.

Orange: Long-life losing its zest but chilled keeps its appeal Although it is still by far the most popular long-life flavour, orange has been steadily losing ground in recent years. Actual consumption of orange and its share of the long-life market have both declined. Long-life apple juice though has performed strongly compared to all other flavours in this segment, supported by value brands, which started to appear in 2002.

Conversely, orange has been the driver for much of the growth seen in chilled juices. Consumption in 2003 is predicted to reach around 320m litres, representing an increase of no less than 63% since 1999.

Juice market bursting with new products but cartons holding firm Competition has remained fierce in the UK juice market. In addition to the lowering of chilled juice prices, the market as a whole has seen very strong new product activity including a revamping of the Five Alive range, the imminent introduction of Ace Refresh from Germany and the launch of Britvic's J20 as an off-premise brand.

Cartons remain the overwhelming leader in packaging with over 80% share. Interestingly, the use of non-refillable PET has become more widespread for chilled juice. PET is beginning to have links with quality in the eyes of the consumer in off-premise distribution. Whilst glass usage rose dramatically following the introduction of J2O.