Juicy Culture

2/27/2014

The fresh juice trend is fiercely fashionable.

As consumers become more health-conscious, they’re increasingly focused on the quality and freshness of the products they eat and drink. A growing number of Americans regularly read labels and look for less-processed options in every category, including beverages.

The trend is helping to fuel a surge in fresh juice. Supermarket chains like Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets and Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market offer fresh juice bars in select stores. Even food trucks are selling fresh juices, such as The Squeeze in New York City, whose cold-pressed creations fetch $9.50 per 16-ounce bottle. Organic fresh juice consumers don’t even have to leave home, thanks to delivery services like San Francisco-based Juicey Lucy.

The increasing number of options in fresh packaged juices is also helping to drive interest and sales. “The fresh juice category in general is on the rise,” says Marc Seguin, VP of marketing for Pom Wonderful, in Los Angeles. “Dollar sales are up by 20 percent and the volume is up by 18 percent” over last year.

Pom, which has been selling its Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice for more than a decade, introduced Juice Blends this past summer. “Consumers are attracted to refreshingly light drinks, where you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health,” notes Seguin of Pom’s newest offerings. “Response has been extremely positive, with sales growing and outpacing our expectations.”

Hot Stuff in Cold-pressed

Within fresh juice, cold-pressed, high-pressure processed (HPP) is a rapidly expanding subcategory. In 2011, Seattle-based Starbucks acquired Evolution Fresh, adding cold-pressed juices to its thousands of coffee shops across the nation.

“The category of cold-pressed, super-premium juice is definitely having a moment, and has attracted a tremendous amount of attention and enthusiasm from consumers,” affirms Chris Bruzzo, SVP, channel brand manager for Evolution Fresh.

In recent years, there has been a rise in health-conscious consumers who are looking for products that complement their active lifestyle and give them energy,” he continues. “Since the cold-pressed and HPP processes preserve more of the flavor and nutrition from fruits and vegetables, versus traditional heat-pasteurized juice, consumers have gravitated toward this super-premium juice category as an easy, on-the-go option.”

Evolution Fresh has grown steadily since Starbucks’ acquisition, and in August 2013, the beverage line became available nationally through Whole Foods. “Evolution Fresh has exceeded its aggressive growth plans to be in more than 8,000 Starbucks and grocery retailers by the end of calendar year 2013,” notes Bruzzo.

The brand also recently opened a state-of-the art juicery in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif, that will quadruple its production of cold-pressed, HPP juice, currently available in more than a dozen varieties. Sweet Greens with Lemon is currently the highest-selling Evolution Fresh variety.

Sporting a New Juice

The cold-pressed and HPP technologies have also opened the door to fruit juice varieties that are too perishable to be bottled fresh and too sensitive to traditional pasteurization to be marketable once heated.

Watermelon grower Dan Van Groningen of Van Groningen and Sons Inc., in Manteca, Calif, should know. For years, he dreamed of producing watermelon juice from the cosmetically challenged fruit that couldn’t be shipped to retailers across the country. In November of last year, Van Groningen realized his passion and is now producing Yosemite Fresh, a cold-pressed, HPP watermelon juice with a 90-day shelf life.

“Watermelon juice is very healthy. For one, it’s got lycopene. And ours is 100 percent natural,” observes Van Groningen. In fact, the health benefits are attracting the core of his consumer base at present. “We’re starting out small, doing a kind of grass-roots thing,” explains Van Groningen, who sells Yosemite Fresh Watermelon Juice at area gyms, for example.

“We have been getting feedback through Facebook and social media that our customers are drinking watermelon juice after they work out, and they say they are recovering a lot quicker and they don’t feel sore the next day,” he reports.

Gordon Hunt, of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, in Orlando, Fla., predicts that cold-pressed watermelon juice will be a game changer. “We think it’s going to create a huge shift, and people will want to drink watermelon juice for its health benefits, using it as an alternative to sports drinks,” he asserts.

Elevating Apple Juice

While apple juice has been a kid-friendly favorite for as long as anyone can remember, fewer adults have been seen swigging the sippy-cup staple — until now. National Beverage Corp., in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the Warren, Mich.-based Sundance Beverage Co.’s Everfresh Premier line of varietal apple juice are bringing a very adult, wine-industry approach to the juice.

Everfresh’s varietal apple juice line showcases the distinct characteristics of five types of apples: Granny Smith, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Fuji and Honeycrisp. All flavors are made from 100 percent juice and are 100 percent natural.

Consumers are attracted to refreshingly light drinks, where you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health.”
— Marc Seguin, POM Wonderful

The category of cold-pressed, super-premium juice is definitely having a moment, and has attracted a tremendous amount of attention and enthusiasm from consumers.”
— Chris Bruzzo, Evolution Fresh

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