A British startup has launched Virtue Ice Tea, a canned drink fortified with vitamins and minerals that is sweetened with stevia.
The 19-calorie per 100 ml tea is an alternate to soda and sugary juices that appeals to young people, according to founder Rahi Daneshmand. A 330 ml serving contains significant amounts of vitamins delivering 50% of the daily minimums for Vitamin C, B3, B6, B7 and B12.
Virtue also contains magnesium to balance electrolytes and zinc. Ingredients include fruit extract, tea extract and sugar from fruit. Distribution is limited to England but will expand internationally, according to Daneshmand, who previously worked at Danone.
Daneshmand told Beverage Daily “I set out on a mission to create Virtue, an ice tea brand which ticks all the right boxes: taste, health, affordability and brand appeal.
“A lot of brands are packed with sugar or are relatively niche, considering the number of years they have been on the market. I believe our brand appeals to a wide range of consumers, with our attractive packaging and naturally sweet taste,” he said.
Fruit beverage volume declined 1.9% in the U.S. in 2013 and soda sales continue to fall. According to financial analyst website Trefis fruit beverage volumes could drop by 13% to 1.85 billion gallons by 2018 from the current 2.133 billion gallons (2013).
In many instances consumers switch from juice drinks to bottled tea and “healthy” beverages like vitamin water. Ready-to-drink tea advanced .4% in volume in 2013 according to the Beverage Marketing Corp.
Vitamin waters typically contain sugar and are experiencing a consumer backlash. Coca-Cola brand Glaceau Vitamin Water was sued in a class action challenging health claims that omitted the harm associated with 33 grams of fructose per bottle, almost the same sugar as a 12-oz. cola. The company responded with a new stevia formulation that was criticized as “chemical tasting” and unpalatable as reported in the June 2014 edition of BusinessWeek. Glaceau’s dollar share of the category fell to $630 million or 6.8% of the category in 2013, down from 9.6% in 2012. Sales were $530 million in 2014 and Glaceau Smartwater had sales of $560 million, according to Statistica.
Value–added water registered the largest decline (-6.6%) of any liquid refreshment beverage type (despite a strong showing by Glaceau Smartwater), according to Beverage Marketing Corp.