health

Confused about what to give kids to eat and drink? Us too.

“Ten years ago I became a mother.”

Ten years ago I became a mother, and during that first year, fruit juice was considered an acceptable part of my toddler’s diet, in a reasonable amount.

But over the past decade, juice has been demonised and parents are sternly informed that it is similar to soda – bad for health, weight and teeth.

As a jittery new parent of one, then two, then three kids, I followed every new recommendation when it came to children and food, even the ones that contradicted each other. I was a mess. I thought the problem was me. What I didn’t realise was that it wasn’t juice that was the problem. It was the kind of juice that was the problem.

This week I sat down with James Ajaka, now CEO of nudie juice, who was in fact nudie juice’s first employee. We quickly bonded over our shared confusion over what to feed our kids. James recently got into trouble from his wife for taking his daughter to a fast food outlet…  let’s just say he won’t be doing it again anytime soon.

James and I aren’t the only ones confused about what to give our children to eat and drink. And this shared concern is what led to the beginning of nudie juice more than 11 years ago.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this is a Brand Voices post brought to you by nudie. All opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

James says, “The whole idea was based on the fact that in America and in the UK and several parts around the world, you could buy fruit juice made with nothing but fruit, completely unadulterated and also exotic blends of fruit. Australia at the time (just over a decade ago) was dominated by juice made with preservatives, concentrate, flavour, colours, added sugar and relatively plain offerings.”

So apparently we were all sucking down “fruit concentrate,” which is a preservative-laden extract from fruit that tastes okay when you add sugar and water to it and looks okay when you add colouring to it. But that wasn’t good enough for the nudie team. In fact, it wasn’t good enough for any of us.

So the nudie team went to the market, bought some fruit, took it home, chopped it all up and blended it in the blender. And that was the moment nudie juice was born, 11-and-a-half years ago.

From that kitchen to becoming a major national brand in just over a decade, nudie juice is now the first juice choice for millions of Australians.

I remember seeing the first chilled bottles on the shelf. nudie juice tasted delicious and I felt virtuous drinking it. They quickly spread across Australia. The message that they were the only fruit juice on the market that came from 100% fruit, with no additives and were mostly Australian-sourced, got through quickly. Parents began to give them to their children and started trying desperately to fit them in their children’s lunchboxes.

At the same time that parents were wrapping nudie juice bottles in tea towels and ice and shoving them next to Vegemite sandwiches, the team at nudie HQ were quietly taking a look at the Australian kids’ juice market.

James Ajaka and Jo Abi chat over a nudie juice.

“We were just staggered by the fact that in the last 12 months 245 million units of kids’ lunchbox products had been sold, labelled as ‘juice’ and not one of them contained real fruit that wasn’t from concentrate. And not one of them contained Australian fruit,” James explains. “So we thought this is a real opportunity for us to create something good, something remarkable that parents would be proud to put in their kids’ lunchboxes and that kids would love too.”

ADVERTISEMENT

And they didn’t stop there. James tells the story of the day they made sure their new kids range would be as perfect as possible. “We even went out and bought 14 different lunchboxes and made sure our design fit in all of them. I was pretty proud of that moment.” They even removed some of the pulp from the juices, not all of it, just some. “Based on our research, kids don’t like bits too much.” It takes parents like James to think of these things.

He has two daughters, aged almost four and 15 months and in his house, health is paramount. He’s happy to give his girls nudie juice, but only one per day. “I’m always staggered when I see people walking around with one litre cups of juice,” James said. “I think that’s where some of the negative publicity surrounding juice may come from. Ours contains two serves of fruit per serve.”

He’s also all about portion control and is adamant that no fruit juice, not even nudie juice, is a substitute for real fruit. “There’s no substitute for real fruit for both my daughters. I make sure they have at least one piece of fruit every day, but I love the fact they can also have a nudie every day for one of their serves of fruit.”

I asked if his older daughter gets to help test new products out and he says she does. “She always gives me honest, unadulterated feedback.” Yep, kids are good at that.

So the four kids nudie flavours are – nothing but 2.6* oranges, nothing but 2.5* apples, nothing but apple & blackcurrant juice and nothing but tropical juice. I drank two tropical poppers while we were talking. Not just for kids then. They are so delicious.

Parents can rest assured that they are 100% fruit, completely unadulterated, meaning no preservatives, additives, flavours, colours or added sugar.

kids nudie is sold in the chilled section at Woolworths as well as cafes and corner stores and James says that the plan now is to get it into more school canteens.  “We’re in almost 300 school canteens across Australia and hopefully in another year that number will be significantly higher,” he said. “We have school canteen operators saying, ‘Finally, a juice that’s made with nothing but fruit that we can offer to kids guilt-free’.”

nudie juice continues to be the creator of good. As well as their kids range, nudie has made the first coconut water to launch in Australia, they branched out into vegetable juices and most recently have added sodas to their collection. So now Australian families have an amazing range of healthy beverages to enjoy.

Check out James’ visit to meet the Mamamia team…

What about you, what do you do every day to keep yourself and your kids healthy?

kids nudie is the first kids range in Australia to be made using nothing but real fruit. It has no added sugar, no preservatives, no concentrates, 2 serves of fruit in each pack and is perfect for the lunchbox. The range comes in 4 delicious flavours: nothing but 2.6* oranges, nothing but 2.5* apples, nothing but apple & blackcurrant juice and nothing but tropical juice. Look for kids nudie in the chilled section at Woolworths! RRP: $6.99 (for a 6 pack). www.nudie.com.au or www.nudie.com.au/kids

*on average, give or take a few.

00:00 / ???