Abomination or Marketing Breakthrough?

March 14th, 2013 by Chris

So I’m in the grocery store in the orange juice section. Specifically, the Tropicana orange juice section, (and section is the right name because there are 14 distinct varieties of Tropicana orange juice) when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a new variety labeled “Trop50”.

The label says prominently “50% less sugar and calories than orange juice”.

“Huh”, I wonder, “how do they do that? Is it some chemical process like de-caffeination where they somehow extract part of the sugar?”

So I pick up the bottle and look at the back and check out the ingredients. Whubbah-wha? The first ingredient is “FILTERED WATER” followed by “NOT FROM CONCENTRATE PASTEURIZED ORANGE JUICE”. Wait, there’s more WATER than ORANGE JUICE? Yes, this is, in fact, completely true. Elsewhere on the label it states “42% juice”. So ok, they took some OJ, and cut it 50/50 with water. Fine, this stuff must be cheaper, right?

Nope.

Same _exact_ price[1] for the full 100% pure orange juice and the watered down 50% orange juice beverage. So wait, does it taste (and feel) like watered down orange juice? I’m guessing not, since Tropicana has conveniently added “MODIFIED FOOD STARCH”, “NATURAL FLAVORS” and “REB A” to make the beverage presumably thicker, more flavorful and sweeter than watered down orange juice would otherwise be.

In the interest of full disclosure, I often drink “orange-ade”[2] consisting of 1 part OJ to anywhere from 1 to 5 parts water depending on thirst. But when I drink this… I DON’T PAY FOR THE WATER.

My open letter to Tropicana:

With respect to your Trop50 Some Pulp Orange ‘Beverage’ which I recently discovered on the shelf of my local grocery:

You should be ashamed selling watered down OJ for the same price, and in the same section as your trademark “Pure Premium” orange juice. It exploits consumers who expect the product directly between varieties of actual Tropicana orange juice to actually be <gasp> orange juice. Kudos to your production team, however, for significantly increasing throughput without adding significant cost. Unfortunately, this product damages your reputation for a premium, great tasting, high quality pure orange juice. It certainly has damaged your credibility with this consumer.
– Sincerely, Chris Schierer

(Note: After multiple attempts at receiving a 500 server error at the Tropicana website, I was unable to send this comment through. I’ll try again later.)

  1. Based on a single sample of our local Tops grocery store []
  2. Shout out to Aunt Ann and the Schierer cousins for introducing me to this. []

One Response to “Abomination or Marketing Breakthrough?”

  1. Kim Says:

    Many juices do the same thing. Kaden loves the V8 veggie/fruit juices – the ones with the color lids are 100% juice. The ones with the white lids are not. And yep, same price for very expensive water… Obviously people fall for it, or they wouldn’t sell it.