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  • Writer's pictureAditi Mishra

Beyond the Label : the Deceptive "Juice" in Your Drink

All’s going well when suddenly FSSAI drops the biggest bomb on all beverage companies. 

“Beverages with less than 10% fruit content do not qualify as fruit juices”

In the ever-changing landscape of the beverage industry, the unveiling of FSSAI's fruit juice guidelines initiated a strategic recalibration for industry titans, including the giants Coca-Cola and Pepsico. The regulatory framework posed a critical turning point for renowned brands, steering them away from conventional formulations to align with evolving consumer preferences centred around health and transparency.

The earlier existing Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) formulated a rule that required a minimum of 10 percent fruit juice or pulp content in such beverages to qualify as a juice drink, except in lime where it was 5 percent.

FSSAI said in a revised draft notification that in case the quantity of fruit juice is below 10 per cent but not less than 5 per cent (2.5 per cent in case of lime or lemon), the product shall be called carbonated beverage with fruit juice. 

Ever wonder why some fizzy drinks seem so sweet? It might be because companies are getting creative to qualify for a lower tax rate. The government offers a 12% GST for drinks with 10% juice content, aiming to promote healthier options. But some brands are adding lemon juice concentrate to meet the 10% threshold. This allows them to qualify for the lower tax bracket, potentially defeating the purpose of the rule and leaving consumers with sugary drinks disguised as "fruit juice-containing."

Brands started using this opportunity to introduce drinks that could come under ‘carbonated beverage with juice’ category and yet minimise costs by putting in the minimum % of juice content. Brands like PepsiCo introduced Nimbooz Soda to cater to such guidelines and reach a wider audience base who's moving towards a healthier style of living. Dabur India Ltd entered into the fizzy drinks market by launching a range of fruit juice-based aerated drinks under the brand—Réal VOLO, which the company claims has 20-25% fruit juice content.

The guidelines have become a catalyst for change, propelling these brands to redefine their narratives, crafting a bubbling harmony that appeals to today's beverage enthusiasts. In this dynamic era, where regulations merge with consumer preferences, the journey of these iconic brands reflects a commitment to quality, innovation, and a shared thirst for progress.

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