The UK's beverage industry needs to fight back against criticism from the media, according to the chief executive officer of one of the country's leading drinks firms.
Innocent's Douglas Lamont expressed these views at the Zenith International Soft Drinks Industry Conference in London earlier this week, stating controversy surrounding sweeteners may have had a negative impact on the market.
Therefore, Mr Lamont wants other beverage business leaders to follow his example and ensure they are doing all they can to protect their brands from criticism, Marketing Week reports.
Figures show sales of fruit juice decreased by 2.2 per cent during 2013, with volume sales falling by five per cent. Smoothie sales also suffered, declining by 4.6 per cent over the year.
This is thought to be largely due to media coverage regarding the high sugar content of some drinks, with reports revealing some beverages advertised as fruit-based and healthy contain just as much sweetener as fizzy drinks, which could potentially lead to health problems.
Innocent has been trying to remedy juice's image, recently launching a new marketing campaign which shows the origins of its mangoes and apples, how they are sourced and then included in its drinks.
Mr Lamont commented: "There's a defence piece that has to be done. There's a role we have to partake in educating consumers and we have to innovate, as without that we will be left behind by consumers, retailers and falling foul of the perspectives from a legislation and government [point of view]."
He believes challenging these views should be done by gathering scientific research to counter sensational media claims, something which Innocent has been doing over the last 12 months.
The beverage brand has been in touch with leading nutritionists and researchers to find evidence which can be used to argue against future negative claims.
Innocent is trying to educate consumers about these facts through a variety of platforms, such as social media, to make them aware about what is actually in the company's products and about any impact - positive or negative - they could have on health.