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Parents beware: Juice in juice drinks costs up to £34 per litre!

30th April 2004

Calypso drinkThis carton of Calypso Juice Drink makes a big splash about containing organic fruit juice, but at just 10% juice you'd need to buy forty 250ml cartons and spend £13.20 before you'd get the equivalent of a litre of pure fruit juice.

Coca-Cola made an expensive mistake earlier this year when it launched its new Dasani bottled water. The over-sold product treated with 'reverse osmosis' turned out to be ordinary mains-water from Sidcup. The media loved the story. Questions in parliament and a volley of newspaper headlines, followed by the embarrassing discovery of bromate contamination in Dasani tap-water, led to Coca-Cola withdrawing the product in March.

Coca-Cola got its come-uppance for trying to dress up tap-water as an expensive designer drink. But what about all the other companies that get away with this trick on an everyday basis?

Most squashes and juice drinks are mainly water and sugar, with a dash of juice to make them seem like a healthy choice - often pumped up with additives to make them seem more fruity. Do you know what you are really getting for your money?

We bought 10 squash products, 10 juice drinks (sold by the litre), and 10 single-serving juice drinks aimed at children. For comparison, we also bought 10 pure juice products (sold by the litre). Leaving aside the water, sugar and additives, we calculated how much customers are being charged per litre for the real juice content, and must admit to being amazed as the prices quickly mounted up…

Selling us water

Manufacturers rely on many tricks to make us part with our cash, even when we are not getting much juice for our money. During our survey, we noticed that many cartons of juice drinks boast of the fruitiness of the products, with prominent fruity imagery and descriptions such as 'pure heaven' and 'fruit burst'. Such claims seem to be used by manufacturers as an excuse to charge inflated prices, but seldom reflect true fruit content.

We also noticed that many descriptions focused on how 'refreshing' a product was'. However, the word 'refreshing' seems mainly to be used to denote 'lots of added water', and you won't find this explained on the pack.

Adding vitamins to children's products is another favourite ploy to make them appeal to parents. Vitamin powder added to a juice drink costs just a few pence. But such ploys are also used to hike the price of fruit ingredients - to an astonishing equivalent of £34.67 per litre in the case of Ribena.

The message to parents? If you want watered-down juice, why not do it yourself? Add sparkling or still water to real fruit juice and hey presto - you've got a nutritious juice drink and it's a whole lot cheaper!

Children's juice drinks (as sold in lunchbox size cartons)
Product name
% juice
Equivalent price of juice per litre
RibenaFruit Shoot  
Children's juice drinks were the most expensive of all the juices we purchased.
We calculate that Ribena costs the equivalent of £34.67 per litre of fruit juice, and Robinson's Fruit Shoot isn't far behind at £20.60 per litre.
Both of these products use added vitamins to encourage mums to consider them healthy, and both rely on enormous advertising budgets to increase demand.
Ribena Blackcurrant Juice Drink
Twist 'n' Squeeze Juice Drink Orange with sugar and sweetener
Robinsons Fruit Shoot Apple No Added Sugar
Calypso Organic Forest Fruits Flavour Juice Drink
Tom & Jerry Apple & Blackcurrant juice drink
Tesco Kids 'It's very refreshing!' Orange & Peach Juice Drink
ASDA More for Kids No Added Sugar Apple & Pear Juice Drink
Florida Style Sunny D original
Thomas & Friends Juice Drink Apple and Blackcurrant No added sugar Enriched with Vitamin C
Disney Winnie the Pooh Roo Juice Winterberry

Juice drinks (by the litre)
Product name (one-litre cartons)
% juice
Equivalent price juice per litre
juice drinks
What's the difference between pure tropical fruit juice blends (with no added water or extra ingredients) and the tropical juice blends found in juice drinks? Our survey found that the latter are much more likely to burn a hole in your pocket.
Pride Exotic Tropical Juice Drink costs an astonishing £12.50 equivalent per litre of pure juice, with Princes Refreshingly Tropical Juice Drink not far behind at £6.27 per litre.
Consumers Pride Exotic Tropical Juice Drink with added vitamins A, C & E
Sunpride Tropical Juice Drink
Princes Refreshingly Tropical Juice Drink
Suncrest Tropical Fruit Drink
Del Monte Fruit Burst Tropical Refreshing Juice Drink with Added Vitamins A, B6, C & E
ASDA Extra Special Freshly Squeezed Orange, Lemon and Lime Crush
Pure Heaven Out of this World Tropical Fruit Juice Drink
Rubicon Sun Exotic Tropical Fruit Juice Drink With A, C & E Added Vitamins
Cape Tropical Juice Drink Experience
Tesco Tropical Juice Drink

Squashdrinks requiring dilution
Product (one-litre bottles)
% juice
Equivalent price as bought juice per litre
fruit squashWould you pay £7.79 for a litre of fruit juice for your child? That's the equivalent you would pay for the juice contained in Kia-Ora Mixed Fruit Squash.
Kia-Ora contains more sugar than real fruit juice, as well as two artificial sweeteners, two preservatives, flavourings and other additives.
Noddy Smooth Style Orange Squash
Kia Ora Mixed Fruit Squash
Londis Apple & Blackcurrant Squash
Budgens Whole Orange Squash
Kwik Save Orange Squash
Sainsbury's Mixed Fruits Squash
Morrisons Apple & Blackcurrant Squash
Pataya Apple & Blackcurrant Squash
Tesco Orange, Lemon & Pineapple Squash
Princes Geebee Orange Squash 'Contains Real Fruit'

Pure juice blends in cartons (for comparison)
Product name (one-litre containers of 100% juice)
Price per litre of juice
Tropicana Tropics Orange Pineapple Mango
Liquifruit Breakfast Punch
Santal 100% Exotic
Marks & Spencer Pressed Pineapple, Peach & Passionfruit Juice
Safeway Pressed Apple With Mango
Tesco Pressed Apple & Mango Juice
Fruit Passion Fair Trade Juice Pure Breakfast Juice
Waitrose Orange and Passion Fruit Juice from concentrate
ASDA Multivitamin Tropical Breakfast Juice with added fibre
Sainsbury's Pure Tropical Juice
orange juice Pure juice blends like those listed above reflect the more expensive range of 100% juices available on the market.
You don't have to spend this much to enjoy the nutritional benefits of pure fruit juice. Economy orange juices can be purchased from most of the major supermarkets.
They may not come in snazzy packaging, but they are just as healthy as pure juices, and aren't adulterated with sugar or additives like most juice drinks. This litre pack of Sainsbury's Orange Juice costs just 38p.


The following pages may also be of interest

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    Parents are unwittingly paying up to £34 a litre for fruit juice when they buy it in the form of ‘juice drinks’, according to a survey published today in the Food Magazine.