Starting today, parents who purchase Happy Meals at McDonald’s restaurants in the UK will have the option of a new proprietary sparkling drink called Fruitizz. A mix of 60% fruit juice (from apples, grapes and raspberries) and natural sparkling water, the beverage has no added sugars or artificial colors or flavors. Rather than be aseptically packaged like milk, Fruitizz will be dispensed from the regular fountain machines because, the chain says, children perceive fizzy fountain drinks to be “more exciting and desirable.”
The beverage is not sugar-free, however. Made for McDonald’s by Coca-Cola Co., 500 ml of Fruitizz reportedly has 49 grams of sugar and 200 calories. The chain stresses that these are not added sugars. “The calories are down to the natural sugar in the fruit,” Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald’s UK, told The Mirror.
But some critics consider the beverage unhealthy for kids because of the sugar content. A headline in Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun screamed “ ‘Healthy’ McDonald’s drink has 12 teaspoons of sugar.” The article quoted dietitian Christina Merryfield of London’s Bupa Cromwell Hospital as saying, “A large cup of this drink has more sugar than a can of Fanta.” In fact, when test marketed in 62 McDonald’s stores in Wales last year, the drink was labeled as Fanta Fruitizz.
In announcing the rollout throughout the UK, McDonald’s said Fruitizz “will help parents give children one of their five daily portions of fruit and vegetables while still offering kids the fizzy treat they love when they visit McDonald’s.”
McDonald told The Mirror the chain has been developing Fruitizz for three years. She worked on it as marketing manager before she was named CEO in 2010. The chain says it was seeking “to create a fizzy drink that is unlike anything else currently available in high street restaurants. We tried and tested 80 formulations in order to create the right product that delivers nutritional benefit as well as a new, exciting taste.” The chain has not said if it intends to market Fruitizz in the U.S. or other markets as well.
TV, print and digital ad support for Fruitizz launches today. Leo Burnett, London, handles McDonald’s in the UK.