Frucor wins award with kids drink

By Karen Chan

An old favourite for kids has turned international award winner for drinks company Frucor.

Just Juice Bubbles - a half-and-half mixture of fruit juice and lemonade - has won the global innovation award from its parent company, Groupe Danone.

Though an internal award, more than 42 businesses from 26 countries were competing, all part of the $25 billion multinational Danone.

The latest accolade follows Just Juice Bubbles' double win in the 2005 New Zealand marketing awards, including the supreme prize.

Frucor chief executive Carl Bergstrom said the product was developed after the company realised that about a third of people were mixing Just Juice with lemonade at home.

"Sometimes the best ideas are obvious in hindsight," he said.

The drink, introduced in August last year, beat a yoghurt-like dairy product as well as low-sugar smoothies from the United States to win the Dan-Inov for Growth Innovation Award.

It has once again put Frucor's dozen-strong research and development team, who developed energy drink V and sports water Mizone, at the centre of attention.

"There's certainly a lot of interest [in Just Juice Bubbles] from other Danone businesses," Bergstrom said.

Frucor, the former New Zealand Apple and Pear Board spin-off , already has two international successes and has been recognised by Forbes as one of its global Top 20 small companies.

V, developed by Frucor before Danone bought the company in 2002, enjoys multimillion-dollar sales in countries ranging from Britain to South Africa and China. Mizone has been a hit in China, selling hundreds of millions of bottles a year.

"Our team is small but has earned itself a reputation in Danone bigger than its size ... It's about this relatively small company, on an international scale, punching above its weight in the international arena," Bergstrom said.

Danone is sending about 40 marketing and R&D executives to New Zealand for an innovation seminar in February.

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