Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nature's Nectar 100% Juice Fruit Punch (Aldi)

Tastes very similar to the national brand, but won't break the bank.
I have one question to ask that's been on my mind for a while. The answer is probably pretty obvious, and it's to no one in particular, but I think about it every time I pick up a product that claims it is “100% juice”: How can it be 100% juice when there are other ingredients added? I understand cases where the juice is the only ingredient listed, but this, for example, has four juices from concentrate, plus natural flavors, plus citric acid and vitamin C. Is there so little of the other stuff that it adds up to less than 1%?

While you're contemplating the answer to that question, I've already Googled it, and as everything else in the U.S., it's an answer that's more complicated than it should be. If I understand correctly, the FDA has a method for calculating juice percentages for juices from concentrate. In the concentration process, water is removed from the fruit, usually via heat, and then can be “brought back” by adding an amount of water equal to the amount taken out. The reason for removing the liquid in the first place has nothing to do with health benefits, and everything to do with profits: since fruits are mostly water, companies can save money by removing the water from the fruit or vegetable before shipping. Then, when the fruits hit their intended destination, they can be “brought back” by adding the same amount of water that was removed from them in the first place. In the case of an apple, which is made up of 84% water, there only needs to be 16% of actual apple juice in a “from concentrate” product, for it to be considered 100% juice. I probably bungled that explanation, so if anyone has any knowledge of this field and would like to clarify, then please feel free to correct me, and add your two cents into the comments.

Anyway, the specific 100% juice product we are looking at is actually called “100% Juice”, available under the Nature's Nectar beverage line from Aldi. Tying in to the question and answer session above, it's comprised of four juices from concentrate: apple, pear, grape, and tangerine, all combined to form the “fruit punch” flavor that is contained within the bottle. The juice itself is a dark red, and looks almost like a diluted cherry juice.

The taste is fantastic, tasting very similarly to the name brand that it is attempting to knock off (a hint if you're stumped: the juice is generally marketed toward children, and the color scheme of the bottle is almost the same). I've always thought that “Fruit Punch” was a very misleading name for it, because it doesn't taste like any fruit punch product I've had before, but I'm sure there are no specific definitions for a “fruit punch” drink, and so any combination of fruits can probably be considered “punch”. The apple and grape juices are the most recognizable, but all of them combine to form a delicious, very sweet juice that is one of my favorite beverages at Aldi, and my go-to when I'm not in the mood for any kind of specific fruit juice in particular.

To me, there's something about it that's very drinkable and addicting; it's the perfect kind to chug when I'm thirsty and need something quick and convenient. Of course, the process used for “concentrating” juice also removes a lot of the natural vitamins and minerals, so while you won't get all of that back, each 8 oz. serving does have 120% vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid); each serving also counts as a full serving of fruits, which can help promote healthiness in growing boys and girls, or 33-year-old adults like myself!

Overall: 8.5/10. I love this drink; it has become my fallback option when I'm not craving a certain kind of fruit juice. The fruit combination (four juices, all from concentrate) works deliciously well, with apple and grape stepping out as the main flavors, with pear and tangerine finishing it off. It's very sweet, and there's a lot of sugar, but none of it is added and there's no high fructose corn syrup. There are also high amounts of vitamin C (120% per 8 ounces), and each serving counts as a serving of fruit. It's instantly drinkable, to the point that I find myself chugging this when nothing else sounds good. One of my favorite juices from Aldi, and one that, I imagine, would appeal to just as many grown-ups as it does to children.

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