José Jordão 

AIJN President

José Jordão 

AIJN President

The AIJN Market Report regarding 2018 shows that the European juice consumption continues to decline. Volume was down roughly 1% on 2017. If we chose to look at the value side of consumption across Europe, which is not reported, we are led to believe that numbers should be positive. This good news shows the industry is under transformation driven by consumer changes for more natural and less processed products.

This year’s edition is clear about what is growing and what is not. Despite the overall decline there are market segments that show volume growth such as NFC and Chilled juices in detriment of FC and Ambient. The market is trading up as NFC and Chilled juices are driving growth in value which offsets the decline of volumes of traditional segments.

More than ever, the Fruit Juice Matters programme remains key for the future of the industry. External threats have arisen from public policy changes, healthcare professional misinformation and mass media reporting of negative studies. If left unchecked, there is a risk that consumers will be too busy worrying about sugar to recognise the health benefits offered by a daily glass of fruit juice.

The science is clear even if others are not. Studies show that fruit juice consumption is associated with less risk of heart disease and stroke, doesn’t cause obesity or diabetes, and contains special plant compounds, called polyphenols, that promote optimal health. These effects include supporting blood pressure control, reducing inflammation, rebalancing gut bacteria and protecting body cells from damage. The attributes are being ably communicated to our target audiences by the Fruit Juice Matters programme, employing dossiers, scientific symposia, events and social media.

Building on this, the scientific expert group has recognised a need to bolster the evidence on cardiometabolic benefits and has begun the process of commissioning new scientific evidence. In early 2020, work will begin on a new clinical trial to examine the benefits of 100% orange juice for vascular health. Other smaller projects are running alongside and include a meta-analysis of cardiovascular studies by an Italian academic group and a pilot study in Belgium to check that it is safe for people with type 2 diabetes to consume juice with breakfast. The results of these will be communicated in due course to the different media and through Fruit Juice Matters training events which participant companies can access for free.

Although it is recognized that Obesity has a multifactorial cause, the solutions voiced by health organizations and EU policymakers to curb it tends to be focused solely on the disbalance in nutritional input. The EU and national nutritional policy setting focus on the reduction of consumption of sugars, salt and calories by pushing for reformulations of products, taxation and even banning the advertisement of the products high in these nutrients.

The final goal is to provide consumers with easy tools to make better-informed choices, limiting the intake of those food products deemed to have a negative nutritional profile.

The consequences of the simplification of this multifactorial and complex obesity problem will not always lead to the right choice. Simplifications do not raise the understanding, the knowledge of the nutritional aspects of many foods.

Taxation therefore also does not help in changing dietary choices towards healthy food patterns and lifestyles. Besides, it has unforeseen consequences whenever fruit juices are considered as sugar-sweetened beverages which are often targeted with taxes. Fruit juices, because of their micro-nutrient content, have a rightful place in a healthy well-balanced diet and should be promoted as a relevant part of anyone’s daily consumption. Not taxed.

The taxation of food and beverage products higher in certain nutrients is not a stand-alone dossier as it fits the overall health policy as described. Regulatory initiatives like Nutri-score, Front of Pack labeling, traffic light systems, and other related initiatives do require a positioning of the fruit juice industry to assure the interests of the sector are well defended. In my opinion the industry can neither postpone a debate on finding the best strategy to sit down and speak with the new EC nor wait for the revision of the juice directive due in 2022.

The monitoring of these regulatory developments is core to the working of AIJN and servicing its members. Positioning on these developments, as well as the active outreach to the policymakers, is and will continue to be our fundamental mandate.

In 2019 the AIJN Code of Practice Expert Group, consisting of recognized industry international experts with in-depth technical knowledge in different fields, started working on the second vegetable reference guideline – it is RG for pumpkin. In the collection of 27 individual reference guidelines for fruits there is already one for the vegetable – carrot.

As a truly global business, the EU juice industry is aware of its role in sustainability matters. AIJN, representing the industry in the Juice CSR platform, is committed to taking on the responsibility for ensuring that the operations of its supply chain positively impact society and the environment at large. An important part of the CSR commitment is to ensure responsible sourcing of raw materials. This relevant goal can only be achieved with unquestionable inclusiveness and collaboration of national and international suppliers.

All these and many other initiatives make us at AIJN optimistic and invigorated to keep working towards the objective of getting back the reputation of the juice industry. I am sure that on the 1st and 2nd of October the Juice Summit’s 7th edition, co-sponsored by IFU and SGF, will be once again an impressive display of our collective determination in making it happen. It is up to us to reaffirm that, as far as credibility is concerned, there is no business like the juice business.

See you in Antwerp.