Saturday, July 8, 2017

Costco Berry Smoothie v. the New Fruit Smoothie

As many of you are already aware Costco has recently replaced the Berry Smoothie in their food courts with a new Fruit Smoothie – much to the chagrin of loyal Berry Smoothie fans. This new smoothie is touted as having:
  • No added sugar
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • Four servings of fruit

But this so-called “healthier” smoothie comes at a massive 106% price increase. The beloved Berry Smoothie cost a mere $1.45, while the new Fruit Smoothie costs $2.99. And according to the nutritional information card, at 15.5 ounces the new Fruit Smoothie is actually .5 ounces less than the old Berry Smoothie, which was a full 16 ounces.
I know what you’re thinking; “Maybe the drastic price increase is worth it for the new ‘healthier’ smoothie.” Well to find out, I ordered a smoothie and asked a food court employee if I could see the nutritional information. She obliged and rifled through a binder before handing me a laminated card. I asked if I could take a photo because it would be faster than writing down all the information and she said sure. The card still had the Berry Smoothie listed right below the new Fruit Smoothie so I was able to capture nutritional data on both smoothies for comparison. Ingredients were not listed, however the allergen column for both smoothies was blank, indicating that both smoothies appear to be free of wheat, milk, egg, fish, soy and anchovy.
I will not be posting the photo I took of the entire nutritional information card because I did not explicitly ask for permission to post that photo I took. Instead I took the information and made a nice little table for easy side by side comparison:

Berry
Smoothie
New
Fruit Smoothie*
Serving Size (oz)
16
15.5
Calories
240
220
Calories from Fat
0
0
Total Fat
0
0
Saturated Fat
0
0
Transfat
0
0
Cholesterol
0
0
Sodium (mg)
25
200
Total Carbohydrate (g)
59
56
Dietary Fiber (g)
1
4
Sugars (g)
50
47
Protein (g)
0
1
Total Cost
 $1.45
 $2.99
Cost Per Ounce
 $0.09
 $0.19



* no added sugar, no artificial flavors or colors, 4 servings of fruit

Now let me breakdown the comparisons for you:
  • You will see that calories decreased by 8%, dropping from 240 calories for the Berry Smoothie, to 220 calories for the new Fruit Smoothie. Just about everyone can benefit from fewer calories so let’s call this one a positive change.
  • Both smoothies are fat free and cholesterol free, and since there is no change there is neither a positive nor negative change.

  • But what is going on with sodium? The Berry Smoothie had a mere 25mg of sodium, but the new Fruit Smoothie has a whopping 200mg of sodium. Umm that’s an astonishing 700% increase in sodium!! What? The? Heck? For a smoothie that doesn’t contain protein powder, nuts or nut butters those sodium levels are rather alarming. That’s a huge negative change.
  • Total carbohydrates decreased by 5%, dropping from 59g that the Berry Smoothie had, to 56g that the new Fruit Smoothie has. I’ll call fewer carbohydrates a positive change.

  • Continuing down the list, the Berry Smoothie had only 1g of dietary fiber, while the new Fruit Smoothie has 4g of dietary fiber which is a 300% increase in fiber. Dietary fiber has many health benefits so an increase in fiber is a positive change.
  • With the claim of no added sugar I was hoping to see a more impressive decrease in the amount of sugar – but the new Fruit Smoothie has only a measly 3g, (or 6%) less sugar than the old Berry Smoothie. The four servings of fruit could explain why the sugar decrease isn’t greater -- more fruit does mean more fiber and every little bit helps when it comes to decreasing sugar intake so I’ll chalk this one up to a positive change, albeit a tiny one.

  • The last item on the nutritional chart is protein, which increased 100% from 0g in the Berry Smoothie to 1g in the new Fruit Smoothie. Protein is an important macronutrient that is essential to your diet so increased protein is a positive change.

  • I had a friend run the nutritional information for both smoothies through a weight watchers calculator and the smart points values came to 13 points for the Berry Smoothie and 12 points for the new Fruit Smoothie – which if you follow weight watchers is another every so slight positive change.

  • Let me go over that price increase again. The 16 oz. Berry Smoothie cost $1.45, or $.09 per ounce and the new 15.5 oz. Fruit Smoothie costs $2.99, or $.19 per ounce. Per ounce, the Berry smoothie was a steal! Especially when compared to the prices of smoothies elsewhere. The Fruit Smoothie on the other hand is just slightly cheaper per ounce when compared to smoothies from other retailers. For example I compared the prices of both Costco smoothies to similar smoothies at Jamba Juice and Tropical Smoothie Café:
    • At Jamba Juice, a 16 oz. classic smoothie costs about $5.25*, or $.33 per ounce. Comparing ounce for ounce the Costco new Fruit Smoothie is 41% less expensive than Jamba Juice, but the Costco Berry Smoothie was 72% less expensive. So the new Fruit Smoothie is still an amazing deal compared to a Jamba Juice classic smoothie, but it’s just not quite as amazing as the Berry Smoothie was.
    • At Tropical Smoothie Café a 24 oz. classic smoothie costs about $4.91**, or $.20 per ounce. From an ounce per ounce perspective the Costco new Fruit Smoothie is only 6% cheaper than a classic Tropical Smoothie Café smoothie, but the old Costco Berry Smoothie was a whopping 56% cheaper per ounce.
    • Even with that said, overall the 106% price increase from one Costco item to another Costco item is pretty hard to swallow. I’m counting the dramatic price increase as a big negative change. 
*I used prices for California from http://www.fastfoodmenuprices.com/jamba-juice-prices/ for comparison.
**I used prices for California from http://www.fastfoodmenuprices.com/tropical-smoothie-prices/ for comparison.



  • Last but not least, let’s talk about taste. I liked the old Berry Smoothie, but I wasn’t in love with it. Too often I found it to be just way too sweet for my liking. The new Fruit Smoothie has a bit of tart taste to it, which I love because I quite enjoy tangy, sour things. But that’s not to say that the new Fruit Smoothie is sour tasting, it just has a refreshing tartness. I would describe the new Fruit Smoothie as tasting “real.” Much like when you enjoy fresh fruit (especially berries or cherries) sometimes you get a piece that is much sweeter, and sometimes you get a piece that is less sweet and slightly tart. I know taste is subjective, and while I can’t quite isolate each and every fruit flavor I taste in the new Fruit Smoothie, I can definitely tell that it is real fruit I am tasting and not artificial fruit flavoring which is a positive for me.

To date I have had five of the new Fruit Smoothies from four different Costco food courts in the Northern Virginia area and one thing that has become apparent to me is the way the smoothies are made is not consistent. If you have tried the new Fruit Smoothie you may have noticed they are prepared differently. If I recall, the old Berry Smoothies were premixed and just poured right out of the machine into cups ready to enjoy. The new Fruit Smoothies however are made in a three-step process:
  • Add scoop of fruit mixture to cup
  • Add frozen concoction to cup
  • Blend frozen concoction and fruit mixture until thoroughly combined
Now those are not the official directions, they are just my observations from having seen different food court employees make half a dozen smoothies over the past few weeks, but I believe the lack of consistency I’ve noticed comes down to the blending step. Some food courts blend the smoothies better or longer, which results in the fruit mixture and frozen concoction being thoroughly combined and quite easy to enjoy through a straw. But I have experienced 2 smoothies at different food courts that were not thoroughly blended which resulted in large chunks of fruit getting stuck in my straw and an overall less intense, less uniform flavor. This lack of consistency is a negative change.
If you have been keeping track you know that I came up with 7 positives changes and 3 negative changes, which makes my pseudo scientific comparison a win for the new Fruit Smoothie. (At least IMHO.)
Let me know if you have tried the new Fruit Smoothie and what you think!
Thanks for reading

Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur

#GoingToAllTheCostcos


P.S.
Follow me on Twitter! @CostcoConoiseur
Follow me on Instagram! @theCostcoConnoisseur

22 comments:

  1. Loved the post and great job on comparing the 2!

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  2. I prefer the berry smoothie any day.

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  3. Thank you for this! Just one thing to note: To get an accurate comparison, you'll need to compare a 16 ounce serving to a 16 ounce serving (instead of to a 15.5 ounce serving). 15.5 ounces of the new smoothie has 220 calories, but 16 ounces of the new stuff has 234.66 calories -- not much of a savings compared to the 240 calories in 16 ounces of the old smoothie. Same with sugars -- 16 ounces of the new one actually has slightly more sugar (50.13g) than 16 ounces of the old one (50g)

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    Replies
    1. I mean to accurately compare whether the new one is healthier or not! I could have saved a ton of calories and sugar if I'd been drinking 8 ounce servings instead of 16 ounce servings of the old one...

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  4. I think your weight watchers guy needs to recalculate the points. 50 calories is approximately 1 point, so no way is it 12 points.

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  5. Great comparison and I love that you blog on all things Costco!

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Thank you for this information, but what is the source as other sources I am seeing show 45mg of sodium.Thanks!!

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    1. hi! A Costco food court employee showed me the nutritional information card and that card listed sodium for the new fruit smoothie as 200. I took a picture of it and just confirmed it does say 200 for sodium for the new fruit smoothie. (See my 3rd paragraph above)
      Where are you finding 45mg listed?
      Thanks for reading!

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  8. More tart. Still looking for ingredient list. They say the whitish stuff in the machine is non-dairy.

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Next time I'm at Costco I will ask a food court employee if they have the list of ingredients for the new fruit smoothie and I will post any findings here :)
      Thanks for reading my blog!

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    2. The whitish stuff is the pear and apple purée and the pineapple juice concentrate.

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  9. Thanks! I appreciate that! It was listed on two other nutrition bloggers sites. Maybe they are referring to the old smoothies. But based on ingredients I wonder what is making the sodium so high

    https://www.nutritionix.com/i/costco-food-court/fruit-smoothie/c64001647932f70182f562b6
    http://nutrition.healthgrove.com/l/49798/Costco-Food-Court-Fruit-Smoothie

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! The informtation listed in the link you provided does NOT match the nutrition card that the Costco Food Court has. The old Berry smoothie had 25mg sodium so I'm not sure where that website got their information. I'll try to obtain the ingredients list from Costco food court this afternoon :)

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  10. I have a pic of the ingredients list!

    Water, pear purée, apple purée, pineapple juice concentrate, strawberry, blackberry, pineapple, natural flavors, sodium nitrate, currant and carrot juice (for color), citric acid and ascorbic acid.

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  11. Thank you for this post. I can't wait to try these recipes for my next breakfast to get some energy before going to work. thanks, @Cynthia Kung for the ingredients. God bless you

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  12. My son is distraught that they changed the smoothie. "It tastes terrible". I chalked it up to being a more healthy recipe but now I really miss this inexpensive well loved treat. I wish they'd have both options.

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  13. They just changed the recipe & price for the latte freeze at our Costco a couple weeks ago. Doubled the price and personally I dislike the taste. Would love a comparison between the old and new latte freeze!

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