Smoothie Industry Enjoys Explosive Growth

Research firm Mintel reports that smoothie makers took in more than $2 billion from made-to-order and packaged smoothies, up more than 80% in five years.

Consumers, especially in the 18- to-24-year-old range, are embracing the product as a healthy and portable meal alternative.

Now, says Mintel Reports director David Lockwood, companies are being pushed to the next level: extreme differentiation. Smoothie companies need to continue developing new flavors and additives to keep consumers engaged but should also think about expanding the menu to include sandwiches or coffee.

The smoothie industry's new offerings are using emerging flavors, such as açaí and green tea, and hybrids of smoothies with other drink types. New nutrient "boosts" feed consumer need for evolving offerings as well. Smoothie companies have also remained on track with current food trends, utilizing "all-natural," low-calorie and other key buzz properties to build sales.

"With functional foods and beverages having a strong marketplace advantage, smoothies are in position to dominate the healthy beverages category," says Lockwood. "Smoothies are seen as a pleasant health treat, and this will continue to take the category far."

In contrast with yogurt drinks, 39% of Mintel respondents agreed or strongly agreed that "smoothies are healthier than drinks made with yogurt." Similarly, more than half of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that "smoothies taste better than yogurt drinks," with yogurts getting only 15%. (See related story on the yogurt industry.)

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