Your Drinkified Snack
A few months ago, Pepsi's Chairman and Chief Executive Indra Nooyi told the Wall Street Journal, "We see the emerging opportunity to 'snackify' beverages and 'drinkify' snacks as the next frontier in food and beverage convenience." Ms. Nooyi is simply accommodating the continuing desires of health conscious consumers.
'Snackified Beverage' Defined
Informally, drinkable snack and snackified beverage category seems to includes thick drinks made of some combination of fruit purees and juices, added nutrients and, at times, yogurt, soy powder, and starch. In our minds, products like Odwalla Wholly Grain! - made of fruit juice and purees, whole grain brown rice, coconut, and added vitamins - or Naked Juice Protein Zone with pureed fruit and soy and whey protein – might be on that list.
But those are 'adult' products not marketed to kids. For kids, Pepsi has introduced Tropicana Tropolis™ in test markets, advertised as “a smooth blend of real squeezable fruit, packed with nutrition”. Tropicana Tropolis™ comes in a tube to "make fruit fun'. (As a side note, PepsiCo owns Tropicana and Naked Juice and Coke owns Odwalla.)
Available and Convenient
In their press release for Tropolis™ PepsiCo writes, “With challenges in mind that moms and kids face when it comes to consuming enough fruits and vegetables, Tropicana worked with moms, kids and health experts including dietitians and pediatricians to develop this healthy, delicious, lunchbox and grab-and-go snack. Price, availability and convenience are the three main barriers for moms when it comes to squeezing fruits and vegetables into everyday routines, leaving Americans, including children, short on the five to 13 fruit and vegetable servings recommended for everyday consumption.”
Pepsi is right about kids coming up short in the fruit and veggie department. When researchers analyzed a recent NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) to assess the fruit and vegetable intake of American kids, they found 6 to 18 year-olds do not eat enough fruit (2-to-5 year-olds get enough fruit in the form of juice) and for all children of all ages, of the vegetables consumed, only 8 percent were dark green or dark orange, and French fries potatoes contributed 46 percent of total vegetable consumption. We have a problem here.
Fruit in a Tube or Pouch
But are these drinks really necessary and they even fruit? Tropolis boasts that it is made with "no added sugars, artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup; and no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives." The beverages are made of apple puree, filtered water, banana puree concentrate, fibersol-2 fiber (maltodextrin), grape or cherry juice depending on the flavor, apple juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, wrote in her blog, Food Politics, “Juice concentrates” is another euphemism for sugar.” “They start out with real food, so let’s give them credit for applesauce and mashed-up bananas,” but “the rest of it is sugar,” she said. “Kids would be better off eating an apple or a banana.” But is a banana fun?
The Bottom Line:
We have yet to see a Nutrition Facts label for Tropolis but it is likely to contain more carbohydrate than a piece of fruit. Because fresh fruit is 80 to 90 percent water by weight and is high in fiber, its natural sugar is not overly concentrated.In various places on the web, the calorie count of Tropolis is listed as 80-100 calories per 3.17 fluid ounce serving, about the same count as one large piece of fruit. But each pouch sells for around 80-cents; a smart shopper could buy twice as much fruit for that. And then there's of not normally compensating for calories in liquids by eating less explained is this past blog. When you put it all together, drinkified snacks don't seem to be worth it.
Read advice from Calorie Count experts about Ideas for Eating More Fruits.
Are 'snackified beverages' a good substitute for fruit? Under what circumstances would you buy them?