May 23, 2024

What’s the main ingredient of a Naked pineapple and passion fruit smoothie? You might think it was pineapple or passion fruit. Well, it isn’t. It is apple juice.

How about a Pret a Manger cold-pressed Hot Shot with a ‘warm burst of orange, spiced with turmeric, ginger and cayenne’? The main ingredient must be orange, right? Wrong, it is apple juice again.

It turns out that a huge number of fruit juices, smoothies, gut-boosting shots and cold-pressed drinks are made up predominantly of apple juice — even ones that never even mention the fruit on the front of the bottle.

Some have called it ‘Applejuiceification’: the fact that many of the fancy-sounding ingredients, different coloured labels and funky names for the drinks on our shelves hide the fact most are as much as 80 per cent apple juice.

One internet user found six different Innocent smoothie drinks to prove their point. The post went viral, with 19million viewers seeing it.

But it is not just Innocent — the drinks company now owned by Coca-Cola — that adopts this practice. Naked, part of the Tropicana stable, is also a huge user of apple juice; so, too, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

All of the brands do it. Even the smaller, niche gourmet brands use predominantly apple juice. Mockingbird Raw Press, for instance, boasts about ‘harnessing the power of over 30 varieties of nutritionally rich fruit, veg and superfoods to carefully craft our award-winning recipe blends’, but many of their drinks consist of more than 50 per cent apple juice.

There is a reason for this — beyond the fact that apple juice is often cheaper than pineapple or passion fruit juice. And the reason is that apple juice is very sweet, usually containing about 10g of sugar per 100ml of juice. Full-sugar Coca Cola only contains slightly more, with 10.6g.

This means that any smoothie or gut-shot maker can say — truthfully that their products have ‘no added sugar’.

If you are using ginger, lemon, kale and spinach, add lots of apple juice and the end drink will end up tasting sweet, rather than like a whizzed-up salad.

Some manufacturers argue that many of their fruit-juice blends would taste too acidic without the addition of apple juice.

The downside for the consumer is that you are left with a product which contains a lot of sugar, but has only some of the nutritional benefit you would get if you ate the whole fruit.

Innocent Drinks said their reliance on apple juice was not a company-specific issue and referred the Daily Mail to the industry union, British Soft Drinks Association (BDSA).

A spokesperson for the BDSA says: ‘The use of apple juice as a base in some juice and smoothie products is common practice and has been for several decades, primarily to help balance the flavour . . . BSDA members comply with all relevant regulations and list ingredients on pack.’

So which fancy fruit drinks are made up of more apples than anything else? Here, the Mail pulls together a selection of products that all comprise more than 50 per cent apple juice:

Pret Hot Shot 

‘Add a kick to your day with a burst of orange, spiced with tumeric, ginger and cayenne’ is how this tiny bottle is promoted on the shelf. Apple is not mentioned, but it makes up nearly two-thirds of the content.

Naked Ruby Machine Super Smoothie

  • Apple juice: 58 per cent, plus apple puree (unknown quantity)

This is red in colour and is described on the front of the bottle as ‘Raspberry, Pomegranate & Strawberry; Natural Energy boosted with B,C & E vitamins’. Apple, however, is the biggest ingredient, which explains why it has more sugar (11g) per 100ml than Coca-Cola.

Naked Pineapple & Passion fruit smoothie

  • Apple juice: 54 per cent, plus ‘apple puree’ (unknown quantity)

‘Full of delicious punchy and exotic flavours,’ it says on the Naked website. That may be so, but the main ingredient is apple ‘partially from concentrate’. With 11g of sugar per 100ml, a serving contains the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar.

Naked Gold Machine Super Smoothie

  • Apple juice: 71 per cent, plus 12 per cent apple puree

‘This super smoothie is packed with tropical passionfruit, mango, and guava. It’s a colourful blend that tastes like sunshine,’ the Naked website says. Apple is not mentioned, but it is the biggest ingredient by some margin. And at 11g per 100ml, it too contains more sugar than Coca-Cola.

Innocent Apple & Raspberry 

Innocent clearly labels this as an apple-based drink. There is no subterfuge here. But some consumers might be surprised that the bottle is almost entirely apple juice, at 92 per cent. One Meal Deal-sized bottle, as a result, contains 32g of sugar, double the amount found in a can of Sprite or Fanta (both of which have 15g in a can).

Innocent Bolt From The Blue

A blue drink! Weird. Innocent says on the bottle that this ‘helps give you some oomph’ and explains it is blue spirulina that gives it its colour. Apple is listed on the front as the third ingredient after guava and lime, but it is two-thirds of the entire bottle.

Innocent Berry Set Go

‘Helps you go, go, go’ says the bottle, saying it contains: ‘raspberry, cherry, apple, goji, guarana + vitamins’. It contains a mere 3 per cent raspberry, 3 per cent cherry and 2 per cent goji but a whopping 82 per cent apple.

Innocent Power To The Purple 

  • Pressed apples: 83 per cent

‘A win for your skin’ is how Innocent describes this drink on the bottle. On the front the main ingredients are listed: pomegranate, raspberry, apple, rose water. But apples, in fact, completely dominate at 83 per cent, with pomegranate coming in at 8.6 per cent and raspberries at just 3.3 per cent. A small Meal Deal sized bottle contains 14g of sugar — more than you will find in a Krispy Kreme original doughnut (12g).

Mockingbird Raw Press Raw Boost 

  • Apples: around 69 per cent

On the front of the bottle this drink is billed as a ‘virgin smoothie crafted with strawberry, blackcurrant, acai berry, beetroot, spinach, kale, vitamins B6 + C’. Apples are not mentioned, but they make up at least two-thirds of the ingredients. The exact percentage is not clear, but the other ingredients added together make up just 31 per cent, suggesting that the drink is 69 per cent apple.

Sainsbury’s Pineapple, Banana & Coconut Smoothie 

  • Apples: around 57 per cent

Apples are not mentioned on the front of this bottle, and you would not expect them in such a yellow concoction. But they are listed as the main ingredient on the back — without a percentage declared. Adding up all the other ingredients suggests that well over half the bottle is apple juice. At 11g per 100ml, this again contains more sugar than a Coca-Cola.

Tropicana Kids Smoothies – Strawberry and Banana 

‘Great for lunchboxes’, ‘no added sugar’, ‘1 of 5 a day’ is how this kids’ smoothie is promoted on the box. But with nearly four-fiths of it being apple juice and puree from concentrate and with zero fibre, it is of limited nutritional benefit — apart from a dose of vitamin C. With 15g of sugar per carton, it has more sugar than you will find in a Krispy Kreme original doughnut (12g).

 M&S Smoothie, Mango, Kiwi & Kale

  • Apple: around 57 per cent

The front of the bottle does say (in smaller writing) ‘blended with apple’, but you might not have presumed apple juice and apple puree make up over half the ingredients. The exact percentage is not listed, but all the other ingredients add up to 42 per cent so it is likely to be 57 per cent or more. At 10.3g of sugar per 100g, this is very sweet.

Tropicana Pure Tropical Fruit Juice

  • Apples: around 73 per cent

‘The juice of five tropical fruits’ is what this bottle says on the front, with a picture of mango, a pineapple, passion fruit and mandarin on the front. The missing fifth fruit not pictured? It is not very tropical: an apple, making up about 73 per cent of the ingredients (the others add up to 27 per cent).

Tropicana Sensations Pineapple & Pink Guava Crush 

Tropicana does at least picture an apple on the carton, just behind the image of the pineapple and guava. Many consumers, however, might be surprised to learn that more than four-fifths of this ‘exotic blend’ (according to the website) is just apple juice. At 11g per 100ml, this contains more sugar than Coca-Cola.

Press Berry Boost 

‘Why our juice is worth The Squeeze? Up to 1/2 kilo of fruit & veg used in every bottle (that’s the magic of cold-pressed juice)’ is the marketing blurb it supplies to supermarket websites. That’s a lot of fruit for a small bottle, but four-fifths of the ‘berry boost’ is, in fact, apple — not a berry at all.

Don Simon mango, passion fruit and orange smoothie 

Although this looks like an orange-based drink and it says it is an orange-based drink, oranges make up only 10 per cent of the ingredients. Apples — which are not mentioned on the front of the bottle — make up more than half. It is also very sweet at 12.4g of sugar per 100ml. One Meal Deal-sized bottle contains the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar.

Daily Dose Framboise 

Even those who struggled with GCSE French will know that ‘framboise’ means raspberry. But this drink — ‘a cold-pressed blend of fruit and herbs’, according to the Waitrose website — is made up of just 4 per cent raspberry. A bigger ingredient is strawberries at 22 per cent — but the biggest by far is apples at 70 per cent.

Asda Blast of Blue Super Juice

On the front of this unpleasantly blue bottle it says the ingredients are: coconut water, guava, passion fruit, spirulina and lime, ‘with added vitamins your immune system will love’. It is only when you turn it over that you realise more than two-thirds of the bottle is apple juice.

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