Mott's Will Help You Water Down Your Juice If You Like

Here’s a perfect example of why you should always approach “healthy” labeling on food products with a skeptical eye. Summer did a quick side-by-side comparison of regular Mott’s apple juice with new Mott’s Plus Light. What she found was that except for a few added vitamins, the Light product was just Mott’s juice diluted by 50% with water—but selling for the same price as the 100% juice.

I’ll start by saying that I’m a fan of apple juice, but I’m not a fan of super-sweet beverages. So, for a few years now, I’ve been buying 100% apple juice and watering it down. 50% apple juice & 50% water is the perfect combo for me.

I was at Giant today in Phoenixville, PA and I found a sneaky little ripoff in the juice aisle. I found Mott’s 100% apple juice selling for $2.69. Then, right next to it, I saw another one of Mott’s products also selling for $2.69 — Mott’s Plus Light. The “plus” designation seems to come from the extra vitamins that they throw in there, that’s all. But the word “light” caught my attention because it’s a term that usually means lower sugar content (which is something that I’m always looking for.)

I checked the nutrition facts on the back of the bottle, and sure enough, it had half the sugar of the Mott’s 100% apple juice! Had I just found the perfect beverage for me?

Not so much. A more thorough investigation of the label made me realize the following:

Regular Mott’s | Light Mott’s
120 calories | 60 calories
240mg potassium | 120mg potassium
28g sugar | 14g sugar

And then, the final straw: I saw that the Mott’s Plus Light was 50% juice! I’m no math whiz, but it seems pretty clear that the Mott’s Plus Light is clearly watered-down apple juice being sold at exactly the same price as the Mott’s 100% apple juice. The Mott’s Plus Light label makes it appear so… so much healthier, and it’s clearly designed to trap carb- and sugar-conscious shoppers into buying half the product for the full price!

I’ll keep watering down my own juice; I don’t need to pay Mott’s to help me out with that one.

Yes, Mott’s Plus Light also comes with more of vitamins C & D as well as calcium, but with less iron and potassium, and you’ll be paying twice the price of regular Mott’s for what’s otherwise just watered down juice.

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  1. Walrii says:

    Ingenious. Whoever came up with that idea certainly earned their pay.

  2. duffm4n says:

    Why in the world would they add 3.5 times more salt to a “light” beverage? Sure this comes with half the calories, but three times the high blood pressure!

  3. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    This is only slightly more skeezy than charging the same for a “light” version and just changing the serving size. (“Light” cookies anyone?)

  4. DerangedRoleModel says:

    There’s more sodium too.

  5. Jevia says:

    Interesting that there’s more sodium with those vitamins too.

  6. Brazell says:

    Hahahaha, that’s awesome. Story of the day for me.

  7. Womblebug says:

    The Mott’s for Tots line is exactly the same thing – watered down juice. Except you’re paying an additional premium to have it prepackaged in juice boxes for you.

    • juri squared says:

      @Womblebug: Yeah, I laughed at Mott’s for Tots. I just carry around a bottle of juice and a bottle of water. Besides, it lets me mix my own ratio of juice to water – helpful if my kid is chugging down liquids like it’s going out of style.

  8. It also says on the label “Apple Juice Beverage” and according to their website “# 50% less calories and sugar than 100% apple juice”.

  9. SkokieGuy says:

    I find it interesting that they are watering down apple juice.

    Apple juice is the ‘junk’ juice of the juice world as is frequently used to add sweetness and reduce costs of more expensive juices. Look at cherry, carrot, pomegranate, etc. Most often, apple juice is the first ingredient, because it is much cheaper, yet still lets the company label the product as 100% juice.

  10. provolone says:

    I’m pretty sure Welch’s already did something very much like this with their grape juice too.

  11. jaydez says:

    I still prefer store brand juice to Mott’s. I think Mott’s is far too sweet and the store brands are much better.

  12. Coelacanth says:

    They’ve been doing this for a while. In fact, I know more people than I’d like to admit who are notorious for stocking their shelves with this stuff.

  13. BeeBoo says:

    We have been brainwashed to think juice is good for us, but if you look at the nutrition in filtered apple juice, it is just sugar plus whatever vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and calcium that the manufacturer adds.

    Eat real fruit if you want to be healthy and get a little fiber and enzymes and stop rotting your children’s teeth with bottles of sugar water disguised as apple juice.

    As far as watering it down, people are too lazy to buy concentrate and mix it up themselves, saving money and reducing the amount of energy wasted in transportation and packaging. So I’m not surprised people are willing to pay to have it watered down for them.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      @BeeBoo: People are too lazy to buy concentrate?

      Don’t you think concentrate, after mixing, is the exact same product. There is no health benefit, and it’s not neccesarily more ‘green’ because many concentrates must be warehouses, shipped and displayed in freezers.

      If you want to call everyone lazy, then let’s call eveyone lazy who doesn’t pick their own apples, or go to a farmer’s market and make their own juice. Doing so includes the pulp and results in a more nutritious juice and fiber and other good things.

      You lazy non-juicers! For shame!

  14. summerbee says:

    Ha! This is my story. When I was taking those pictures yesterday at the store, a friendly couple came up behind me and asked me what I was doing. I explained it to them, and they said they’ll be avoiding Mott’s as well. Good!

  15. thesepretzels says:

    What’s the big deal? I’m sure lots of people pay that much for a bottle of 100% water for the same price.

  16. youbastid says:

    I first noticed this trend when I was in college and saw weight conscious girls swilling “Light” vodka. Upon futher inspection, I noticed it was only 26% abv vs. the regular 40%.

  17. categorically says:

    Meh, I’d just assume pay to NOT have to water down my juice. I like convenience in the cave, vs. savings.

  18. pb5000 says:

    My wife and I had an argument a few weeks ago when she brought this home. She realized the error of her bad buy and then a few days later I heard her talking to her sister on the phone telling her not to buy it. Success…

  19. Starfury says:

    I always water down apple juice when we have it by 1/3 to 1/2. It’s too sweet for me.

    The sad thing is the bulk of people out there will buy the “light” and not realize they could water it down themselves.

  20. Triborough says:

    35mg of sodium in the watered down juice compared to 10mg in the 100% juice. Wow!

    • dorastandpipe says:

      @Triborough:
      Salt is a flavor enhancer. They took away half the flavor of regular juice so they add salt to up the flavor that is still there. Same reason people add salt to their food on their plates.

  21. Zulujines says:

    They do the same thing with orange juice. I was thinking, ‘light orange juice, perfect’, and grabbed it without reading the label. I brought it home and sure enough, it tasted exactly like…watered down orange juice. I learned that lesson the hard way. You won’t fool me twice, fruit devils!

  22. grunt2008 says:

    Similar efforts are being made by Excedrin with their Extra Strength pain reliever and their Excedrin Migraine pain reliever. Both have identical ingredients at the same dosage level… but one box says “migraine”. “Migraine” is priced 60-80 cents more per box.

  23. Orv says:

    This reminds me of the “pre-mixed” antifreeze at auto parts stores. It’s just prediluted 50% with water, then sold at the same price as the full-strength stuff. I still buy it occasionally, though, because if I’m just topping up the car it’s a lot easier to buy premixed than to find another container to pour half of the antifreeze into.

  24. backbroken says:

    Is “light juice” really a product we need? I mean, how many people have you met in your life carrying around an extra 30 pounds because they just couldn’t lay off the fruit juice? Is this marketted to the same folks in front of me at McDonald’s who ordered 2 Big Macs and a 64 ounce diet Coke?

    • gmoney says:

      @backbroken: Yeah, any number of 3-9 year olds are carrying more weight because they won’t lay off the fruit juice and mom won’t make them. What everybody is missing is that the Mott’s light has splenda and almost certainly some apple flavoring added to the water. So it’s not mere watering down. Of course, you can water it down and add a bit of splenda yourself for a teensy price.

      @BeeBoo: And while you’re at it, make those damn kids get off your lawn.

    • mmmsoap says:

      @backbroken: ::sigh:: I do that.

      Seriously, I hear that excuse a lot, and it just doesn’t fly. You know what? I just don’t like the taste of the regular coke. I don’t mind sipping things sweetened with sugar, but (a) when I’m thirsty and want to guzzle it doesn’t work, and (b) HFCS gives me a headache. Still, a couple of times a year I just have a craving for some Mickey D’s, even if it’s not the healthiest thing to eat.

      On the same vein, yeah, the “light” version is not economical for repeated purchases, I can see the pre-watered down version being kind of convenient. When I’m on the road, watering down the apple juice on my own becomes a hassle. Similarly, all though I’m super-crazy-eco-aware, we use the disposable diapers when out and about because the convenience factor outweighs other issues, at least in the short term.

  25. wjmorris3 says:

    I can verify that in this state (NJ), the Mott’s Light will actually cost 7% more than the regular juice. If the regular bottle sells for $2.99 (as an example), the Light would cost you $3.20 – the dilution is to the point where the light juice is considered a “soft drink” by the state.

  26. Wes_Sabi says:

    This product has been on the market since 2005. Yes, it is diluted apple juice, but they also have added natural flavor and Splenda to it so it tastes similar to 100% apple juice. The extra sodium probably comes from the calcium salts used to fortify this product.

  27. mike says:

    I water down most apple juice I get because it’s so sugary. I’m glad to know that Mott has done this for me.

  28. jamesmusik says:

    The Light Plus Juice also contains sucralose, AKA Splenda. It’s for people who want fewer calories but regular sweetness.

  29. opal says:

    I think Tropicana does this too. I didn’t actually read the label that carefully, but when I last drank a “Light & Healthy” version, I noticed that it definitely tasted funny.

  30. Birki says:

    This sounds similar to the Light Splenda’d Cranberry juice I love. The regular stuff is too sweet. The Kroger Lite brand is usually pretty cheap. I have to say I like the addition of Splenda to juices – on the rare occasions I drink juice, it’s nice to have a less-sweet and caloric option. Buy it on sale or get the house brand!

  31. unpolloloco says:

    I’d bet that Mott’s really isn’t making all that much more money off the fact that the juice is watered down (their big costs are in packaging and distribution). However, they are making money off the people that buy this stuff that wouldn’t normally buy apple juice. Genius idea.

  32. mhale0 says:

    Part of the reason for the identical price is that a big chunk of the cost for manufacturers is packaging & shipping. The savings to Mott’s is a few cents worth of apple juice, but they still have to pack and ship the same sized bottle

    As mentioned above, it’s the same story with Antifreeze.

  33. theBIG says:

    I just refuse to buy anything labeled “light” or “free” it all tastes artificial to me. If I cant handle the sugar or calories, then I wont eat/drink it.

    My mother in law brought over some fat free half and half the other day – I took one look at it and was like, “wtf??? thats impossible!”

    • Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

      @theBIG: Fat-free half and half? Did they figure out how to make the fat in one half cancel out the fat in the other half?

  34. JulesNoctambule says:

    Splenda is in juice, too? Great. Now I’m going to have to question my husband’s diet-crazed relations over the things they offer me to drink as well, or risk another fake sweetener-induced migraine session this Christmas. Fun times ahead.

  35. In all fairness, I work in the Juice industry (and I wandered over here from Jalopnik, FWIW).

    This isn’t anything mind-blowing. When you water down your own juice, what ends up in your glass is… 50% juice! It’s rather convoluted, but every type of juice has an FDA/USDA-assigned single-strength value. For example, regular apple juice is 11.5% sugar, and grape juice is 16% sugar. When you have a mixture of juices, it’s basically a weighted average. From these figures, calories are calculated.

    That said, apple prices are through the roof these days, since China cornered the market, then cut production to meddle with prices. On top of that, in anything ‘light,’ you’re paying for artificial sweeteners, added flavors, and acids (in this case, malic). Vitamin fortification is also expensive.

    In short, stop complaining. Besides, that light Mott’s is way over-sweetened. Buy the full-strength stuff, and keep watering it down.

  36. glycolized says:

    I am surprised that people are surprised that they water down the juice. How else are they going to “lighten” it? I thought that everyone knew that fruit juice, as good as it is, is sugary (even w/o added sugar). It may be “good for you” but if you are watching your calories, it may be too much.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      So, for a few years now, I’ve been buying 100% apple juice and watering it down.

      I water down all juice now. All of it is way too sugary. If it isn’t too sweet taste wise then I’m still crashing a couple of hours later from the sugar high. I even water down the Old Orchard Healthy Balance juices (not as awesome as regular juice but way less sugar and fewer calories per serving).

      All except for orange juice. I have to water that down to prevent the acid from burning my tongue but orange juice is too expensive nowadays anyway.

      “How else are they going to “lighten” it?”
      @glycolized: Indeed.

      @grunt2008: Even their inactive ingredients are the same. The only difference seems to be that the migraine one is in a tablet and the other is a caplet.

      What I don’t get is that their labels are different. Shouldn’t the extra strength version also have all the headache warnings?

      (Also, “bleeding problems” means something like you have trouble clotting not like your headache was accompanied by a nose bleed, right?)

  37. nerdychaz says:

    This is why my diets never work.

  38. geofriend says:

    Actually, I noticed V8 doing exactly the same thing. Their V-fusion juices come in a light version which is also 50% juice and presumably 50% water (as opposed to the regular, which is 100% juice). We prefer the less strong taste of the light, and when we realized it was just half the juice for the same price, we started buying the regular stuff and diluting it ourselves.

  39. GemmaMagoon says:

    The soup companies used to do this (and probably still do). They advertise
    ‘creamier’ soup but the only difference is the instructions tell you to put
    in half the amount of water/milk that you normally do. Less liquid, thicker
    soup. This was on the condensed soups that is, I’m pretty sure it was
    Campbells that used to do it.

  40. jedipunk says:

    I will admit I am guilty of buying the lite and I hate it. But it is difficult to get the kids to cut the juice with water.

    Yea, I could cut it for them but some of this stuff expires before we get around to drinking it all plus it will then take up twice as much space and we already got two fridges and a chest freezer.

    • Petra says:

      I’ll bet someone got a huge promotion for coming up with that little scheme!

      @jedipunk: The next time you purchase the regular apple juice, keep the jug and purchase another regular. Then pour half into the old jug and add a bit of water. Your kids will never know, and you don’t have to add as much water as the Lite versions have (thus saving you calories, but not disgusting your taste buds!)

  41. Mp3dog says:

    HELLO???

    How is this any different than milk???

    Skim milk is just regular milk watered down, yet people still pay full price for the skim milk. For the record, I don’t drink skim milk but if I did, I would just buy whole milk and water it down to get skim milk for a fraction of the price.