Fruit Juice

In this guide we investigate, score and rank the ethical and environmental record of 43 fruit juice brands.

We also look at its environmental impact, sugar content, organic and Fairtrade brands, packaging, shine a spotlight on the ethics of Princes and give our recommended buys.

About Ethical Consumer

This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

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What to buy

What to look for when buying fruit juice:

  • Is it Fairtrade? Precarious employment, extreme low wages, excessive working hours, poor health and safety, discrimination, and anti-unionism are all common for workers on fruit farms, particularly Brazil's orange groves. Look for Fairtrade juice to make it more likely that the workers growing the fruit are treated fairly.

  • Is it organic? Apples frequently make it into the Pesticide Action Network’s ‘dirty dozen’ list of most pesticide-contaminated produce, along with grapefruit, strawberries, pears and grapes. Look for organic fruit juice to avoid ingredients contaminated with these chemicals and to protect farmers and the environment.

  • Is it homemade? Squeezing juice at home means that you can put it straight into the glass, or reusable glass bottles, thereby cutting down on packaging. Buying local, organic fruit will also minimise food miles and the environmental impact from agrochemicals.

Best Buys

Our Best Buys are organic [O] juices from:

Opt for either Fairtrade or organic. Look out for juice from your local small-scale organic farm.

Pip Organic comes in Tetra Paks or recycled PET bottles. Suma sells concentrated apple juice (makes 3-4 litres) in glass. Biona comes in glass or Tetra Pak and sells organic apple.

Recommended buys

We also recommend James White organic juices (glass bottles), Co-op Fairtrade orange juice (Tetra Pak), and Calypso Fairtrade orange juice and apple juice (Tetra Pak, available from Traidcraft).

What not to buy

What to avoid when buying fruit juice:

  • Is it in a plastic bottle? The plastic in our oceans could circle the planet 400 times and is threatening marine ecosystems. Look for glass bottles to cut down on waste and resources used, or make your own juice at home.
     

  • Is it refrigerated or concentrated? Cut down on energy by only buying long-life juice that does not need refrigerating. The nutritional value is the same as chilled or freshly squeezed, although it might not taste as good. Juice that is ‘from concentrate’ or sold as a concentrate also cuts down on transportation costs because it weighs less.

  • Is the fruit grown locally? You will reduce your carbon impact if you buy juice or fruit made from locally grown and seasonal fruit.

Companies to avoid

The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo are both notorious for human rights abuses in their supply chains. We would recommend avoiding the fruit juice brands owned by these two companies:

  • Coca-Cola’s Innocent and Copella
  • Pepsico’s Tropicana and Naked.
  • Innocent
  • Copella
  • Tropicana
  • Naked

Score table

Updated live from our research database

← Swipe left / right to view table contents →
Brand Score(out of 20) Ratings Categories Positive Scores

Luscombe fruit juice [O]

Company Profile: Luscombe Drinks Ltd
15

Pip Organic fruit juice and juice drinks [O]

Company Profile: Booost Trading Ltd - trading as Pip Organic
15

Biona fruit juice [O]

Company Profile: Windmill Organics Ltd
13

Suma Apple Juice Concentrate [O]

Company Profile: Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods)
13

Beet It Organic [O]

Company Profile: James White Drinks
12

Cawston Press juices

Company Profile: Cawston Press Ltd
12

James White Organic juice [O]

Company Profile: James White Drinks
12

Simply fruit juice

Company Profile: AG Barr plc
12

Suma Apple Juice Concentrate

Company Profile: Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods)
12

Zinger [O]

Company Profile: James White Drinks
12

Big Tom tomato juice

Company Profile: James White Drinks
11

James White juice

Company Profile: James White Drinks
11

Zingers

Company Profile: James White Drinks
11

Calypso Fairtrade juice [F]

Company Profile: Pride Foods Limited [was Refresco Drinks UK Ltd [was Cott Beverages]
9.5

Waitrose Duchy Organic apple juice [O]

Company Profile: Waitrose Limited
9.5

Welch's juice

Company Profile: Welch Foods Inc., A Co-operative
9.5

Ocean Spray juice

Company Profile: Refresco Beverages UK Limited
9
8.5

Sunpride juice

Company Profile: Refresco Group B.V. [was Refresco Group N.V.]
8.5

Rocks organic apple juice concentrate

Company Profile: Rock's Drinks Ltd (previously Rock's Organic Ltd)
8

PomWonderful juice

Company Profile: Pomwonderful LLC
7

PomeGreat juice

Company Profile: The Wonderful Company LLC
7

Rocks pear juice concentrates

Company Profile: Rock's Drinks Ltd (previously Rock's Organic Ltd)
7

Co-op orange juice [F]

Company Profile: Co-operative Group Ltd
6.5

Del Monte juice & juice drinks

Company Profile: Refresco Beverages UK Limited
6.5

Johnsons Juice Co fruit juice

Company Profile: Hain Daniels Group
6

Co-op juice

Company Profile: Co-operative Group Ltd
5.5

Waitrose fruit juice

Company Profile: Waitrose Limited
4.5

M&S juice

Company Profile: Marks & Spencer Group plc
4

Aldi fruit juice

Company Profile: ALDI SOUTH Group
3.5

Lidl fruit juice

Company Profile: Lidl UK GmbH
3

Sainsbury's organic apple and orange juice [O]

Company Profile: J Sainsbury plc
3

Innocent juice and smoothies

Company Profile: Fresh Trading Limited
2.5

Morrisons juice

Company Profile: Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc
2.5

Sainsbury's juice

Company Profile: J Sainsbury plc
2

Jucee fruit juice

Company Profile: Princes Ltd
1.5

Princes juice

Company Profile: Princes Ltd
1.5

Tesco organic apple and orange juice [O]

Company Profile: Tesco plc
1.5

Copella juices

Company Profile: PepsiCo Inc
0.5

Naked juice and smoothies

Company Profile: Naked Juice Co. of Glendorra, Inc.
0.5

Tesco juice

Company Profile: Tesco plc
0.5

Tropicana juice

Company Profile: Tropicana UK Ltd
0.5

Asda juice

Company Profile: Asda Group Ltd
0

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Our Analysis

This guide only covers 100% pure juice. Many of the companies in this guide also make vegetable juice and smoothies but we focus on the ethics of fruit juice here.

Juice drinks have sugars, sweeteners, preservatives, flavourings or colourings added to fruit juice. They are covered in the Soft Drinks guide. The market is dominated by the two big US soft drinks megaliths – PepsiCo and Coca-Cola – neither of which make a Fairtrade or organic variety.

Happily, there are some smaller, more ethical alternatives, although Fairtrade brands are thin on the ground.

What is fruit juice?

Fruit juice is usually described as:

  • From concentrate – Juice is extracted from the fruit and the water content is reduced in the country of origin. The concentrated juice is usually frozen and shipped to the country of use for packing. Fruit juice packers then reconstitute the juice by adding back the water.
     
  • Not from concentrate – Juice is extracted from the fruit in the country of origin and then lightly pasteurised and frozen or chilled and transported to the country where it will be packed.
     
  • Freshly squeezed – Juice is extracted from the fruit and used immediately.‘Not from concentrate’ is often thought of being a better-quality juice than ‘from concentrate’ but there is no difference in them nutritionally, and they have both been pasteurised.

Chilled and freshly squeezed juices are more expensive, but although they may have the edge on flavour, nutritionally they are the same as long-life juices.

Fairtrade and organic fruit juice

Brazil is the world’s top exporter of orange juice, growing 60% of the world’s juice oranges. And orange juice is the bestselling juice in the UK (followed by apple, pineapple and grapefruit).

Oxfam published an investigation into conditions on tropical fruit farms in North East Brazil in October 2019. It found widespread and systemic poverty among seasonal workers, particularly women, on sites which supply supermarkets in Europe. Plus, the report also uncovered farms with poor working conditions and inadequate protection against exposure to pesticides.

These sorts of conditions are likely to be widespread in other countries growing tropical fruits like pineapples.
 

There aren't many Fairtrade fruit juices

Unfortunately, there are very few widely available Fairtrade certified juices – only Calypso (orange juice and apple juice) and Co-op (orange juice) are in this guide.

The company behind Fruit Hit, top of the table and the only Fairtrade Best Buy in our last guide in 2017, is unfortunately no longer in business. The company also owned the alternative Fairtrade cola brand Ubuntu too.

One option to safeguard workers’ rights may therefore be to avoid tropical juices but then again, as economist Joan Robinson argued:

“the only thing worse than being exploited by global capital is not being exploited by global capital”

Organic fruit juice

Choosing organic is another option which protects the environment, the growers who have to apply the pesticides and the consumer who may consume them.

There are more of these in the shops – Luscombe (all juice is organic), Biona (all juice is organic), Pip Organic (all juice is organic), James White, Suma, Rocks, Waitrose Duchy Organic, Sainsbury’s SO Organic, and Tesco.

If you can’t always buy organic, a recent survey by Pesticides Action Network of the pesticide residues on fruit and veg sold in the UK helps you prioritise. Here are the stats for fruits commonly used in juices:

table: fruit juice pesticide multiple residues

To avoid these, make sure you buy organic versions of juices with these fruits in. All the companies listed above make organic apple juice.

Additionally, Biona makes organic grape juice and blueberry juice, James White does organic pear, Pip Organic does apple & strawberry and Luscombe does organic apple & pear. If your favourite is grapefruit, you’re out of luck.

The environmental impact of fruit juice

A study into the environmental impact of the entire lifecycle of different fruits, which included how much energy, land and water was needed to grow them, found that, of the fruits most often used to make juices, mangoes had by far the biggest impact, followed by grapes.

Grapefruits, apples, oranges and pears had the least impact, a third of the impact of mangoes.

Mike Berners-Lee has looked specifically at the carbon footprint of things. He concluded the following CO2e emissions for apples and oranges and a couple of other fruits for comparison:

  • Apple from garden 0g
  • Local and seasonal apple 32g
  • Imported and seasonal apple 80g
  • Orange 150g
  • 250g of local, seasonal strawberries 490g
  • 1kg of local and seasonal tomatoes 1,300g

But he did state that in early summer, when local apples have been in cold storage for months, imported seasonal apples may be the lower carbon option.

Basically, in terms of carbon, apples and oranges aren’t too bad.

But, making fruit into juice and then packaging it only adds to the impact of your fruit juice. The processes involved include washing, extracting, refining and pasteurisation, and refrigeration.

Then there’s transportation, which uses more energy especially if the juice is ‘not from concentrate’ and therefore still contains all its water, making it heavier. Once in the shops and at home, there is a further impact of refrigeration if the juice is from the chiller cabinet or freshly squeezed.

What is a greener juice?

  • Eating whole fruit, which cuts out some of these impacts, especially UK-grown fruit which cuts down on transportation or food miles.
     
  • If you do buy juice, go for long-life which doesn’t need refrigerating. Tesco reported that their freshly squeezed orange juice had about twice the carbon footprint of its long-life variety.
     
  • Juices labelled as ‘from concentrate’ cut down on transportation impacts. Those sold as concentrates rather than having their water added back in are even better – Suma and Rocks both make organic versions.
     
  • Choose juice made from UK-grown fruit like apples or pears. They are unlikely to have been kept in cold storage before they have been made into juice.

    You’ll need to make sure it says English or British apple juice on it though. You can’t assume that apple juice comes from UK-grown apples.

    We import 80% of our apples. For example, China is the world’s biggest grower of apples, followed by the USA. Calypso’s Fairtrade apple juice comes from South Africa.
     

  • Organic British apple juice – Luscombe, Waitrose Duchy.
     
  • Non-organic British apple juice – James White, Waitrose. Alternatively, a local supplier may be best for UK-grown fruit juice. Check out farmers markets, local box schemes and small independent food retailers.

Alternatives to buying juice

Many of the issues in this guide can be addressed or avoided by taking a number of alternative courses:

  • Eat whole fruit and veg instead.
     
  • Make your own juice from locally grown, organic, whole fruit – still better than a fizzy soft drink because of all their other ingredients like sweeteners, artificial colouring and preservatives.

Plus, it’s pretty simple and cuts out all the carbon and resource issues.

What companies are doing about their carbon emissions

Our new ‘Carbon reporting and management’ rating in the Climate Change column looks at what companies are saying and doing about reducing their carbon emissions.

All of the companies in this guide get a worst rating bar four – AG Barr and Sainsbury’s, which get a middle rating and M&S and PepsiCo, which are top the pile with a best rating.This means that most companies failed to even talk about what they were doing to cut emissions.

AG Barr only missed the mark by not talking about scope 3 emissions (emissions from suppliers). Sainsbury’s did talk about these, but as a petrol retailer it fell short of a best rating.

M&S and PepsiCo reported all their emissions and had targets to cut them by 2.5% or more per year, in line with international agreements.

Price Comparison 

We have compared the prices of our organic or Fairtrade Best Buy and Recommended brands to the bestselling brand of apple juice, PepsiCo’s Copella which is neither Fairtrade or organic.
 

Brand and type of juice Price per ltr
Suma organic Concentrate £1.35 (approx. cost for making 1ltr juice)
Co-op Fairtrade orange £1.70
Calypso Fairtrade £3.50
Biona organic £3.49
James White organic £3.55
Pip Organic £5.32
Luscombe organic £6.25
Pepsico's Copella £2.20
Image: Calypso Fairtrade juice

Fruit juice and sugar

Pure fruit juices are exempt from paying the sugar tax as their sugar is not ‘added’ during production. However, they can contain equally high levels of sugar.

For example, a 150 ml glass of Tropicana orange juice (the bestselling brand in the UK) has 12.6g of sugar whilst 150 ml of Coca-Cola has 15.9g – not vastly different. Put another way, a glass of Tropicana has the same sugar as three and a half Hob Nob biscuits.

Diabetes UK says that “half a pint (or half a carton) of fruit juice contains more sugar then the WHO recommends having in a whole day (30 g sugar for 11years to adult, 24 g for 7 to 10-year olds). And this is easily the amount that someone might drink in a day.

How to manage sugar intake The sugar in fruit juice still contributes to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay because it is a ‘free sugar’ in liquid form which is rapidly absorbed by the body.

Whole fruit, on the other hand, is considered to be much better for health because, although it contains just as much sugar, the fibre slows down its absorption. The skin and pulp of whole fruit also contains other nutrients not present in just the juice. And fruit juice is a more concentrated source of sugars than whole fruit – 12 g of sugar in a medium orange but 21g in a glass (250 ml) of orange juice.

If you do want to drink juice, it is recommended that you only have 150 ml a day which currently also counts as one of your 5-a-day. But juice can only ever count as one portion a day, no matter how much you drink. The British Dental Association has this advice:

  • Always drink juice with meals and never before bedtime.
     
  • Choose 100% fruit juices with no added sugar.
     
  • Pick apple or berry juice over citrus, which is worse for teeth and more likely to erode enamel than other juices.
     
  • Fruit juice softens tooth enamel, which protects teeth from decay, so wait one hour after drinking before brushing your teeth. This will give the enamel time to harden.
     
  • Avoid flavoured water, as it also contains lots of sugar.
     
  • Never drink juice from the bottle, or give juice to small children in bottles, as this bathes the teeth in juice and increases the chances of damage.
     
  • Drink fruit juice heavily diluted with water.
     
  • Vegetable juice often has less sugar than fruit juice – i.e. tomato juice is 3% sugar whereas orange juice typically has around 8%. But watch out for added salt.

Environmentally friendly packaging

For information on fruit juice packaging, look to our guide on environmentally friendly drinks packaging.

Make your own

Whilst we have said that it is better for you and the environment to just eat fruit rather than drink fruit juice, fruit juice may still be a better option than a soft drink because of the latter’s other unhealthy ingredients including sweeteners, artificial colourings and preservatives, etc.

Freshly squeezed juice made at home, preferably from locally grown organic fruit, will contain more nutrients and will eliminate packaging issues.

If you are doing without completely, a piece of fruit and a glass of tap water should have everything covered.

Company behind the brand

Princes is owned by Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp, which operates in virtually every industry – food, cars, energy, minerals (including coal and uranium) and crude oil.

Princes was one of the companies criticised in 2017 for its tomato growing in southern Italy, renowned for the labour abuses of migrant workers. Since then it has reviewed its supply chain.

Both Princes and its Napolina tomato brand now publish transparency data showing the origin, journey and impacts of its tomatoes, backed up by third-party verifications of the evidence and QR codes on cans.

Mitsubishi also part owns the Singapore-based rubber and palm oil company Olam International, which has been criticised for deforestation in Gabon.

Want more information?

See detailed company information, ethical ratings and issues for all companies mentioned in this guide, by clicking on a brand name in the Score table.  

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