“ Fruit Drinks „
I have recently been trying to cut down on my intake of fizzy drinks, so have found myself looking for alternatives when shopping for groceries.
During a recent online shop at a well-known supermarket, I decided to try out some of the fruit drinks in the 'Five Alive' range. There were three flavour options within the range to choose from, and I decided to try out a couple of them, one of them being the 'Berry' variety, as I had tried it before and really liked the taste of it.
When the drink arrived amongst the rest of my groceries, I was fairly impressed with the packaging and thought it had been given a bit of a recent 'uplift' in terms of the overall look of the product. I also thought that the pictures of the berries and fruit that were detailed over the front of the carton made it look quite appealing and attractive.
The carton is made of recyclable packaging, and it has a plastic nozzle at the top of the oblong-shaped carton, through which the juice can be poured once the seal has been broken. I would point out that in comparison to some similar seals on cartons of juice like this one, I found that the Five Alive carton's opening was very easy to open, and I had no problems with breaking the seal at all. Furthermore, I found that the plastic cap on top of the nozzle was of a fairly decent quality, and I had no problems with the juice spilling all over the inside of my fridge, even when the carton was lying on it's side. The same can not be said of many similar juice products that I have bought in the past.
There is a printed recommendation on the side of the carton that the drink is best when served chilled and I think this is the case with most (if not all) fruit juice drinks like this one. Certainly I find that drinks like this one are more refreshing at this time of year once they have been chilled, so I chose to store my carton in the fridge door compartment, which was easy to do as it has a sort of 'slender' design to the packaging.
Each of the 'Five Alive' juice drinks contains a mixture of five fruit juices, hence the product name. In the case of the 'Berry' variety, the fruits are (from concentrates 30%) apple, blackcurrant, grape, raspberry and strawberry. This combination appealed to me personally as I really like the taste of blackcurrant and apple drinks. I thought that the main flavours that I could detect from the drink were the apple and the blackcurrant, and the other flavours were a mere hint, or an addition to the flavour overall. This is not a complaint however, as I found the taste of the Five Alive Berry drink was a very pleasant one, and of course I found it was very refreshing, and good at quenching my thirst when served cold on a hot day recently.
The taste of the Five Alive Berry however, had one down side and that was the level of sweetness that was present in the flavour and taste of the drink. I had expected it to be sweet, as I have come across drinks like this one before, and so it didn't come as any huge surprise to me when I realised that this juice was not going to be particularly suitable for my husband who is not a fan of particularly sweet-tasting food and drinks. For me, on the other hand, I didn't find the level of sweetness present to be at all over-powering or off-putting, and I must admit that I really enjoyed the flavour and taste of the drink.
Whilst I am on the subject, it may interest you to know that I can see from the Five Alive Berry drink's carton that a 250ml serving of the drink contains 15.3g sugar. There is also a (rather honest) declaration on the side of the carton, informing consumers that the drink is "Five fruit still juice drink with sugar and sweeteners." Hmmm. Ok. It's not the healthiest option, nor is it going to be a particular favourite of my dentist, I'm sure, but hey, it really tastes great.... I must admit, I wouldn't dream of giving this to my young nephew due to the level of sugar in its content but I did buy it for myself, so I'm not going to be knocking off any stars from the product rating for the sugar contained in the drink.
In summary, I thought the drink tasted very nice, and very fruity, which I found refreshing and I will definitely buy it again. I do recommend it, but perhaps only for those of you who have a sweet tooth, as it is not difficult to imagine that it would be too sweet - and perhaps a bit sickly as a result - for some people.
There is a small range of flavoured fruit drinks in 1 litre cartons from the 'Five Alive' range that I have seen for sale in supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda. In addition, some of the drinks are available in individual cartons (supplied with a straw) in smaller grocery stores, which cost around 70 pence each.
I must have been affected by the heat of one of the few seasonal days this summer when doing my online shopping because I suddenly felt the need to include a cold, refreshing, liquid standby or two in my store cupboard. A recent resolve to avoid alcohol, apart from as a weekend treat, took me to an unfamiliar aisle, the soft drinks section, and there I noticed Five Alive. I remembered enjoying the citrus version of this years ago but here was a variety I had not seen before, Berry Blast. Being quite partial to all things of a summer fruits persuasion, I thought this was one not to miss. Unfortunately it was to prove as much of a disappointment as the weather!
Had I realised that Five Alive was a Coca Cola product, I would probably never have added it to my shopping basket. I am too lazy to gen up on all the brands I should avoid as a would-be ethical consumer but Coca Cola is a giant among offenders when it comes to the lack of principled credentials. From the bullying tactics it has employed in repressing trade union activities in its Columbian bottling plants to its depletion of the groundwater resources in India, its lack of corporate ethical responsibility is only too well documented. However, the tetra pack was sitting in my kitchen and could not be wasted so I determined that its pedigree would not affect my judgment of the product itself.
The 1 litre pack is attractive and the magnified berries adorning it look very inviting. However there is nothing to suggest it is recyclable and such tetra packs are specifically excluded from the recycling bins in my area! So far the product scored nil points!
At first glance the nutritional qualities look impressive. It does not contain any artificial colouring, flavouring or preservatives. It does contain added vitamin C which helps your body absorb iron from your food and added zinc which can be important for a healthy immune system. In fact just 100ml contains 25% of the recommended daily allowance of both vitamin C and zinc. So far things are looking promising and even the 63 calories per average 250ml serving doesnt appear too prohibitive.
However then I notice in the small print that vitamin C and zinc are not the only additives, the drink also contains added sugar and sweeteners. The 250ml average serving contains 15.3g of sugar, a massive 17% of the adult RDA. The nutritional picture is immediately tarnished. Moreover both of the artificial sweeteners used, aspartame and acelsulfame K are controversial. A possible connection is claimed between aspartame and diseases such as brain tumours, brain lesions, and lymphoma whilst acelsulfame K is a suspected carcinogen.
This information was not enough to deter me from a tasting. Allegedly so much of our food today has inherent dangers that I have become almost blasé about it. The five fruits in the brew are apple, blackcurrant, grape, raspberry and strawberry and, as I pour my first glass I am impressed with the colour. Its has a rich enough appearance resembling a light red wine (remember this is not achieved by artificial colourants) and looks appetising. The aroma is not as appealing. I suppose I had been expecting the distinctive richness of summer fruit recipes but its bouquet is not at all distinctive, just a vague non citrus sweet fruitiness, nothing more.
On to the biggest disappointment of all, the taste. According to the information on the box, this is supposed to be a delicious blackcurrant taste. To me it is mostly strawberry flavoured with a slight tang of raspberry and blackcurrant but, overall, sickly sweet and exceedingly watery. I did not enjoy it at all and when I looked at the ingredient list a little more closely, it was no surprise to learn that it contains only 30% fruit juices (made from concentrates). Apart from the added vitamin C, zinc, sugar, sweeteners and citric acid, the rest is water! Its interesting to note that the citrus variety contains 42% fruit juice - a far more respectable ratio!
I did finish it all but only because to throw the contents down the drain, as I was tempted to do, would have been a waste. It is a longlife product but, after opening, it had to be refrigerated and consumed within three days so I was heartily sick of it by the time I threw away the empty carton.
At around 89p for a litre Five Alive Berry Blast is not expensive but, with around 65% water content, it has very little more to offer than a good quality squash which works out far cheaper. For example, Sainsbury does a 1 litre high juice summer fruit squash for £1.09 and this, when diluted, makes twenty servings, whereas Five Alive offers just four. In addition squash has the added advantage that it keeps for ages and can be dipped into as required.
Even if the manufacturer of this product had impeccable ethical credentials, I would not be buying it again. It is not very appetising nor does it seem a particularly heathy option and it certainly does not represent value for money.
'Five Alive' is a juicy blend of five fruits thats fun for all the family! Originally introduced to Great Britain in 1981, each juice drink is fortified with vitamins and minerals and contains no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.