Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Tru-Juice takes on new market segment

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2015 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

The owners of Tru-Juice beverages have pumped millions into new packaging and products and are about to take on a new segment of the juice market following a soft launch last year.

Partners, Trade Winds Citrus Limited and Wisynco Group first introduced a non-chilled juice drink in tetra-pak packaging under its down market brand, Squeezz, but did so without fanfare.

Now the company is taking the same step with its Tru-Juice brand, under which it has developed a line of juice drink products for the non-refrigerated market segment. Managing director of Trade Winds, Peter McConnell, also referred to this segment as "ambient juices".

Tru-Juice is positioned as a premium brand of fruit juices sold in four sizes. Trade Winds will continue to market some sizes of the premium chilled juices in its current plastic packaging, however, the 1.75-litre chilled Tru-Juice is being repackaged in a gable-top carton, which will replace the traditional half gallon plastic bottle sold on the refrigerated shelf.

The new products form part of the promised innovations under the beverage partnership struck between Trade Winds and Wisynco in 2013, and have been made under a US$3-million capital investment programme, the companies said. That converts to around J$340 million.

Wisynco took a 50 per cent stake in Trade Winds in the 2013 deal which saw the beverage and distribution company gaining ownership of 50 per cent of all assets, including the brands and associated companies, of Trade Winds. Both companies have separate bases in St Catherine.

25 per cent

market share

With the new line, the partners "expect to do over $700 million in revenue in 2015", said McConnell.

He said Tru-Juice's introduction to the non-refrigerated category of juices is also expected to take at least 25 per cent of that segment's market share.

For now, only Orange Juice will be available in the 1.75 litre gable-top carton, however, McConnell said all the juice flavours will eventually be repackaged, some of which will debut in coming weeks.

"This package is still in the chilled category, but it is a far more appealing package and is significantly more environmentally friendly," he said.

"There are also other sizes that we are looking at, but we cannot provide details at this time," McConnell said.

The additions have been made amid an overhaul of the Tru-Juice brand, which is more than 20 years old and is competing against other juice labels. The brand is sold in three categories with nine flavours under the premium line, six in the no-sugar added category, and three exotic flavours, according to the company's website.

Squeezz, which is a young brand, comes in eight flavours.

"Tru-Juice was long overdue for innovation and packaging renovation. We have an excellent quality juice, but we have been in the same look, feel and place for over a decade," McConnell said.

At its introduction, Tru-Juice started in the traditional juice box or carton, then transitioned to the existing plastic bottles about 15 years ago, McConnell said.

The product has always been sold under the chilled segment, but the new tetra-paks positions the company to grab a slice of the non-refrigerated market.

"Tru-Juice has also always only been distributing chilled, which limits its availability and the occasions on which it could be enjoyed. With tetra-pak technology, we can now offer the same quality product in a convenient ready-to-drink package that does not require refrigeration for distribution and storage," he said.

The Squeezz drinks introduced last August come in 200 millilitre cartons with a straw.

"The initial brand that we produced from the line was Squeezz juice drinks. Now that we are comfortable with the capabilities of the production line and its ability to maintain the high quality standards that Tru-Juice demands, we started production of Tru-Juice on that line at the end of February 2015," McConnell said.

Tru-Juice has also introduced a 200ml tetra-pak. In this size, both brands are aimed primarily at children and young adults, McConnell said, but may also be targeted the grab and go adult customer.

Wisynco remains the exclusive distributor.

"The vast majority of the volumes will be through the wholesale and retail trade, where we will compete against other non-chilled juices," McConnell added.

Since the merger of the companies, Wisynco has taken over all the sales and marketing functions of Trade Winds with the integration of both teams, McConnell said, while noting that there have been some "teething pains during the transition" without going into specifics.

"We also continue to review all the potential synergies and opportunities that arise from this partnership," he said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com