Fruit- or yogurt-based, regular or low-cal, no-sugar-added, with or without a booster—smoothies are a solidly entrenched part of the good-for-you beverage, snack or meal replacement landscape. Still, operators continue to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s selling today (think high-anti-oxidant berries and low-fat).
This past spring, “we went into the field to research how customers were reacting to price and product,” reports Ed Redmond, senior vice president of Freshens Smoothie Company. “Of 20 products on the menu, all but two are fat-free or low-fat and four are low-calorie/no sugar added, providing a 21-oz. portion with under 155 calories.
“But we found a percentage of respondents wanted more fat-free choices when in fact we had them,” he continues. “So we redesigned our menu boards—and installed them free-of-charge in all our locations—to communicate that information better.”
Redmond is also closely monitoring consumers’ growing interest in probiotics. “In Europe, it’s in everything—liquids, additives, boosters and shots,” he says. “And I’ve been watching acacia, the Brazilian berry that’s reported to have three times the anti-oxidants of pomegranates and cran- berries. But we won’t use it until it becomes mainstream.”
Day and night: At East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., Aramark’s marketing program manager Allison Metcalf finds that many of the 22,000 students on campus enjoy smoothies at numerous venues at all hours of the day and night.
“We have four Java City locations and each has Freshens Market Smoothies, thanks to the Freshens partnership with Java City and Aramark,” Metcalf explains. “When they introduced Splenda Smoothies, we had two separate price points but now they’ve been reduced to one price—$3.79 per 21-oz. portion. Today, about one-third of our Java City sales are from smoothies and that just continues to grow.”
Freshens is one of the concepts Metz & Associates operates at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford, Penn. “It’s also a fit with our fresh food concept in the foodcourt that’s open until midnight,” reports Keith Gramlich, culinary specialist for the contractor.
Tiki to come: “This fall, we also will be introducing Tiki Bay, a product from Rich’s. It’s real fruit mixes, high in fiber—and we’ll implement it in our corporate dining division and on college campuses in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. It will have its own point of sale and merchandising and all training will be provided by Rich’s.”
Metz also aims to develop its own line of low-fat smoothies for the K-12 market, but first the base product must meet federal and Pennsylvania school nutrition guidelines, Gramlich says.
Berry Blue Smoothie
Yield: 4 portions (about 5 cups)
2 cups fresh or slightly thawed frozen blueberries
1 container (8 ounces) lowfat vanilla yogurt
1 cup milk
1 can (6 ounces) unsweetened pineapple juice
3 Tbs. honey
1-1/2 cups ice cubes (about 16 cubes)
In the container of an electric blender, place blueberries, yogurt, milk, pineapple juice and honey; whirl until smooth. Add ice cubes, a few at a time; whirl until finely crushed. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 200 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 40 grams carbohydrate