The pandemic is helping revive a food segment
And it’s packaged juice. It needed a pandemic to lift itself after falling for past 5–6 quarters. The trajectory of juice is unique. It just saw sharp fall in early 2019 and stayed there. To confirm this we searched for sector report or news story that might have captured this development. We found a story from ET which confirms it.
Packaged Juice drinkers in India would have noticed limited juice options in the stores from the early to middle of 2019. Some flavors like vegetable, tomato went off the shelf in Bangalore and availability of popular flavor was also inconsistent. We couldn’t say it was true for all stores and all the cities in India but now after looking at the data, it all makes sense. The brands must have felt the squeeze in sales and therefore, reducing the active product offerings. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. But that doesn’t take away the fact that digital impression (what we see below in plots) was already registered, someone had to just crunch it.
Juice interest sees ‘dramatic’ drop and ‘sustainable’ rise
All possible juice flavor capturing people’s interest.
One cannot but notice the sheer variety of flavors and taste which piqued people’s interest in the last 6 months. The size of the bubble shows the quantum of interest in varied juice flavors by consumers and ‘latent’ customer in India. The latent consumer are people who have shown interest but haven’t made the purchase, or aren’t drinking regularly. These are the people brands should bring into the juice drinking fold.
Takeaways and few fixes for the juice segment (if anyone listening)
- The covid-19 has chocked many industries. Some known and other unknown ‘yet’. Food has fared well. The 2020 has been the best year for the food brands in decades. If some haven’t done well, you don’t have anyone to blame.
- The growth is skewed towards non-traditional juices giloy, amla(gooseberry), noni (what is noni). No prize for guessing why. Among traditional flavors are Apple, Pomegranate and Orange respectively.
- Taste is shifting like fashion driven by events as well as occasion. Apart of few stable varieties like apple, orange, mango it becomes challenging to keep up with the shifting trends.
- Some brands will do better than others. Patanjali and to some extent Dabur would be loving every minute of this. For these brands and ones in similar categories, they have new opportunities too. (hint: onion has some interesting uses than just food)
- Given significant interest in beetroot, Tropicana would have done well not to have discontinued (we don’t know any better) its ‘vegetable’ juice. Going forward their R&D should focus on creating more juices incorporating the new flavors (read:direct health benefits and immunity) without diluting their mainstream consumer focus.
- We found juice is positively correlated with chicken & meat interests. If they are doing well, so would juice.
- Most ‘professional’ report will have you believe in the linear growth of a segment and with commentary around population, per capita consumption etc etc that are driving or will drive the ‘volume’ and ‘revenue’ growth. Unfortunately, the reality is always different. Its little more complicated than that.
- Juice should have been a regular item on India’s grocery menu. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened like it did in the west. We can blame on consumer’s wallet and early/late summer season. The brands should think hard here and need to also step up and expand the segment. Consumer also needs to be educated.
- Consumer think they have lot of choices. But in reality they don’t. Go to any nearby department store like reliance retail, more, nilgiri’s or online platforms like amazon, flipkart or bigbasket. You will only have 50% of available flavor at any point in time if you are in luck. One is poignantly amazed to see so many flavors missing from what is advertised in their 1 litre tetrapak box.
- Juice is a regular habit product. Don’t let your consumer try your product only to find its non reliable supply later.
- To win over consumer, brands need to expand the category and not reduce them and make sure your products are consistently available. Consumers in India are often short changed. Well traveled Indians will vouch for this. To build long term trust, brands needs to be truthful. Just launching a category and not paying thoughts on its availability, will not cut today’s consumer. They will silently punish you for that. You might not see its impact next week or next month. But the number will eventually show up.
Note: Gooseberry is same as ‘amla’. Calabash is ‘lauki’.
Data source : Google