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Originally published October 5 2007

Smoothies rise in popularity as consumers choose healthier beverages

by M.T. Whitney

(NaturalNews) The sales of smoothies in the United States have increased dramatically during the past five years, according to industry analysis company Mintel, and have now "become a part of the American landscape." Mintel cites the fact that smoothies are quick, nutritious and portable as a reason for their popularity as an alternative to soda or milkshakes.

What you need to know

• Smoothie sales have risen to $2 billion a year, up 80 percent from 2002.

• A large part smoothies' popularity stems from their image of being healthful drinks.

• The number of retail locations offering smoothies across America has grown dramatically, now standing at more than 4,000.

• To keep up momentum, smoothie manufacturers are introducing new exotic ingredients, such as acai and prickly pear.

• More than half of the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed had had a smoothie in the past month.

• "With functional foods and beverages having a strong marketplace advantage, smoothies are in position to dominate the healthy beverages category. Smoothies are seen as a pleasant health treat, and this will continue to take the category far," said David Lockwood, director of Mintel Reports, in a company press release.

Not all smoothies are as healthy as they may seem, however. Consumers should be aware that many retail smoothie outlets use refined sweeteners or ice cream in their drinks, and nearly all of them rely on processed, pasteurized milk products. Few smoothie establishments offer freshly juiced vegetables as part of their menu. Consumers should look for smoothies based on fresh fruits and vegetables, made without using processed dairy products or refined sugars.

Bottom line

• Consumers seeking to be healthier are spurring growth in the smoothie business.

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