Which Has More Sugar – Tropicana’s Farmstand Juice or Coke?

Tropicana Farmstand Pomeganate Blueberry

Tropicana’s new line of drinks, Farmstand, is designed to conjure thoughts of health in a consumer’s mind. The name evokes the mental image of a farmer bringing in her fresh vegetables and fruits to market.

Each bottle includes pictures of beautiful produce that almost screams that it contains vitamins and minerals. But just how healthy are these drinks? We decided to take a look at one of the products: Tropicana Farmstand Pomegranate Blueberry.

What you need to know:

The drink comes in a 12 ounce bottle. Readers may recall that that the FDA has defined a serving size for juice (or cola, or seltzer for that matter) as 8 ounces (1 cup). However, marketers have deemed that quantity is deemed too small for a package, and thus 12 ounces is the industry standard.

The front of package boasts that the drink has 180 calories. 148 of them (82%) are from sugars! That’s 9 teaspoons. Now it’s true that the ingredients are all natural (see below). But, juicing them pretty much drains them of all their fiber. This product is not a significant source of fiber, but if had you eaten all the vegetables and fruits that go into the bottle, you would have consumed 3-5 grams of fiber. You would have also consumed a lot of naturally occurring vitamin C and vitamin A but they are also lost in processing, and are added as separate ingredients ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and beta-carotene.

Let’s take a look at the ingredient list:

Reconstituted clarified sweet potato juice, grape juice, apple juice, carrot juice, red beet juice, blueberry juice and pomegranate juice (filtered water, grape juice, clarified sweet potato juice, apple juice, carrot juice, red beet juice, pomegranate juice and blueberry juice concentrates), natural flavors, citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and beta-carotene.

The first ingredient is interesting – Reconstituted clarified sweet potato juice. A very-healthy-for-you sweet potato is juiced. It is then clarified, which means it is strained and all the fiber nutrient goodness is discarded. It is then reconstituted which means water is added to it. Why would water be added? Perhaps, as in Tropicana’s orange juice, the sweet potato juice is concentrated by removing water, and then chills in a huge vat for a few months before being reconstituted and bottled.

There are 4 more juices listed before we reach the ones named in the product (blueberry and pomegranate). You can imagine that there is a very small amount of these relatively expensive fruit juices in your bottle. The juice is mostly sweet potato, apple, and grape juice (very cheap). And that’s why you’ll see natural flavors added to the ingredient list. They add the (lab made) blueberry and pomegranate flavors you expect when you take your first sip.

Bottom line:
This is not a healthy beverage. Veggies and fruits are great – eat them, don’t gulp them down as a drink. You’ll get far more nutrients and fill much more full with 180 calories of produce eaten vs drunk.

Oh, and regarding the comparison to Coke. A 12-ounce can of Coke has half a teaspoon more of sugar compared to Tropicana Farmstand. So yes, the juice is less unhealthy. But that does not make it healthy…

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  • The Lone Marmot

    Ouch!

    You eviscerated this drink like a skilled surgeon with a razor-sharp scalpel.

    Good article, thanks.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Welcome!

  • sailorkeddy

    Not sure whats so wrong with this juice, they never claim to have any fiber. Also, a big difference between fruit juice and Coke is the micronutrient content. Sure, there is a lot of sugar in fruit juice, but thats not a reason to demonize it.

    • sailorkeddy

      Also, I juice almost daily, with a juicer…and it would take a lot of time and effort to eat the amount of spinach/kale/etc I put into the juicer, even though I lose out on the fiber. Juice has a place in the daily diet and although in a perfect world everyone would have a juicer, its a stretch to compare this to a Coke.

      • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

        The point is this – it is much too easy to drink juice and ingest an overload of sugar calories. While home made juice, freshly prepared, has a higher nutrient value than something from a store, it is still not a good nutritional deal compared to eating the veggies and fruits.
        Sure, enjoy juice every once in a while, maybe in a 4 ounce cup. But most Americans drink way more than that. In that respect the sugars from juice are just as bad as the sugars from soda.

    • J T

      Sailorkeddy, the micronutrient content is negligible, due to all the processing that store-bought juice goes through.

  • RealFoodGoodFoodTrueFood

    Hopefully, those wishing to juice at home will realize that virtually anything that is homemade has the potential to be healthier than something store-bought, as one has the ability at home to curb certain unneeded ingredients (added sugar, salt) and can incorporate organic, non-GMO ingredients. I’m surprised the GMO factor was not mentioned, re: ascorbic acid and the non-organic ingredients allegedly used in this product.

    Lastly, juicing via a masticating juicer, where more of the food item is able to be absorbed (due to less oxidation) is a perfectly fine way to include vegetables into one’s daily diet, if they keep the fruit items down to a minimum (one serving per juice, to minimize natural sugars). Sure, it’s not as ideal as eating the fruits and veggies in solid form, but that is also very unrealistic in this getup-and-go nation of ours. There are good and bad ways to juice. Tropicana Farmstand is not an example of a good way to juice, clearly.

    • J T

      Masticating juicers are certainly not for the “getup-and-go” people, on account of the messy time-consuming cleanup they require after every use.

  • crayola

    What do the ingredients in parenthesis mean? Was that a description of the “pomegranate juice” or a list in order of quantity?

  • Michelle Renwick Wilson

    If we shouldn’t drink it, can you name some brands that are OK? Not all of us like to eat vegetables.

  • Shake

    ya but the sugar in coke is from high fructose corn syrup. Orange juice’s sugars are comprised of fructose, glucose and sucrose. There is a difference. I’d rather take in 9 tsps of naturally occuring sugars (along with vitamin C, B9, protein and potassium) than 9 tsps of sugar purposely added from refined corn sugar, along with literally zero nutrition in coke.

    • Jebby Sanderson

      It’s sad the author of this piece can’t understand the difference between refined sugar/HFCS and the naturally occurring sugar in fruit.