Weasel Word of the Week: Drink

Sainsbury's juice, and Sainsbury's juice drink

Sainsbury's juice, and Sainsbury's juice drink. Spot the difference.

The Sainsbury’s pack on the left contains fruit juice. The pack on the right contains a fruit juice drink. Same difference? After all fruit juice is a drink, right? Read on and you’ll see that the pack on the left contains 100% fruit juice (from concentrate) whereas the one on the right is only 26% – both in similar packaging, both priced exactly the same, in fact you can ‘mix and match’ these two dissimilar products to gain a saving. Given their similarity on the shelf, you could be forgiven for thinking that from a health perspective they are similar too, but again you would be mistaken. The juice ‘drink’ on the right actually has more added sugar than it has raspberry juice, and doesn’t merit a ‘five-a-day’ symbol.

All achieved quite legally by adding the magic weasel word ‘Drink’ – so you are not buying fruit juice, you are buying a fruit juice-based drink. Legally, Sainsbury’s are in the clear because the nutrition information and ingredients information is all there on the pack for those who have the time and inclination to read it. Yet their packaging strongly suggests, to me at least, that the apple and raspberry ‘drink’ is as close to a natural product as the apple juice it is sold alongside.

Comedian Dave Chappelle knows the difference between a juice and a drink…

Sainsbury’s employ their own comedians. On the pack’s side panel there is an ‘explanation’ headlined “What is a made ‘from concentrated’ juice drink? Here, Sainsbury’s have given themselves the opportunity to explain the important difference between a juice and a juice drink in words we can all understand. Instead, they have gone for further bamboozlement.

There should be a special bamboozlement award for copy like this.

There should be a special bamboozlement award for copy like this.

It opens, “Sainsbury’s juice drinks are a refreshing blend of ingredients including fruit juice, sugar and water.” Now as consumers we are used to ingredients being listed starting with the most prevalent first, in descending order. So, taking this approach, the last part should read, ‘…including water (almost three-quarters of the content), apple juice from concentrate (a mere 18%), sugar, raspberry juice from concentrate (7%), rapsberry puree (1%)’.  The copy goes on to describe the manufacturing process for juice made from concentrate – how they take water out, only to replace it later on. This is the same copy you’ll find on the apple juice pack. But remember, for a ‘drink’,  this long and worthy description only applies to the 18% apple juice and the 7% raspberry juice. It’s not relevant to almost 75% of the content of this pack which is simply added water.

And guess what? It costs the same.

The best bit comes towards the end. “…then blend it to our recipe…” You can imagine them with their chef’s hats on and big stirring spoons, can’t you. Put another way, they bulk it up with a load of water and, because you’d be bound to notice it wouldn’t taste anything like the 100% fruit juice it’s sold alongside, they mix in sugar, citric acid, colour and flavouring. And the word ‘drink’.