Orangina Plots a Comeback in North America, With New Owners and an Old Recipe

The fizzy drink is once again using the original 1936 recipe

orangina bottles and cans
The drink is now available in three kinds of packaging, including the iconic glass bottle.
Felicia Perry Trujillo, Food Seen

Key insights:

Over the past few years, what’s old has become new again, with brands banking on nostalgia to engage and attract younger consumers. Every category has seen some form of this, whether it’s the rebirth of Dunkaroos or Zima’s brief return to the beverage aisle.

Now, in a world full of seltzer, alkaline water and Soylent, the fizzy, citrus-flavored Orangina is back in the U.S. and Canada. While the brand has a new owner, Ventures Food and Beverage (VFB), the drink remains true to its original 1936 recipe. The iconic pear-shaped glass bottle has returned too, along with two new designs.

The 84-year-old brand has seen a number of owners throughout its life, most recently Keurig Dr Pepper, which changed the original formula in North America to include high fructose corn syrup. Elsewhere around the world, Orangina is owned by Suntory Brands, where the original recipe has been kept intact, with 12% juice. VFB, an accelerator group under Pepsi Bottling Ventures (PBV), is majority owned by Suntory (Orangina is not affiliated with PepsiCo).

The company has come up with a three-year plan to reinvent the drink as well as create a new category of beverages, dubbed sparkling juice. As part of its official unveiling today, Orangina worked with Clean, a North-Carolina based agency to produce the merchandising and marketing materials, which encourage consumers to “shake the pulp,” a nod to the brand’s original packaging (and actual need to shake up the ingredients, including the mandarin orange pulp).

First came the decision to bring Orangina back into the Suntory family. And then as Farah Nisler, part of international brand development at VFB, describes, the thought process went as follows: “Well, if we’re going to bring it back, we’re going to bring it back to the original recipe. Well, if we’re going to bring it back to the original recipe, we’re going to repackage it. All of those reasons came after Suntory said, ‘Let’s bring it back. We’ll see what happens if we pull it back into the family and connect the brand globally again.'”

A comeback with a twist

While some consumers might feel a nostalgic pang for the Orangina of their youth, others might not know the brand at all. That’s not the case in Europe, where Orangina is the fourth largest beverage brand. In France, it’s the No. 1 carbonated orange soda, according to Nisler. So, as Suntory noticed North American sales declining “significantly” over the past 15 years, the company knew it needed a relaunch in this region.

Welcome the glass, pear-shaped bottle, retailing for between $1.89 and $1.99, which also showcases why consumers should shake it up (you can watch the pulp settle after shaking the drink). But glass isn’t welcome in all places—such as airports—or by all types of consumers—like parents with kids. The glass bottle, while fun and whimsical, also doesn’t always fit the coolers of convenience stores across America. And while glass is seen as a better alternative to plastic, the material still requires a large amount of energy to produce and carries a significant environmental impact because of shipping requirements.

“All I know is that in all the testing we’ve done over the past year, every single consumer is excited about seeing this come back,” Nisler said. “And I haven’t actually heard anybody talk about the sustainability piece.”

“We saw the demand on the customer side and decided to go ahead and move forward with [the glass bottle],” Nisler said.

“The glass is great because it’s iconic,” said Frank Mercante, brand development manager for the Northeast at VFB. “Being able to bring that [packaging] back to life is awesome because it just really looks nice on the shelf, the feel and everything. It really brings people back.”

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