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They’ll Drink to That


The trend in fresh juices is simple: Offer the greatest nutritional value possible through minimally processed ingredients that are blended so beautifully that people want to drink them every day.

Well, they may not be simple to produce, but they’re certainly easy for the health-conscious consumer to enjoy.

“People are constantly looking for ways to get more fruits and vegetables in their diets,” notes Lauren Castillon of Bolthouse Farms, in Bakersfield, Calif., a division of Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Fresh. “Fresh juice is such a convenient way to add nutrients to your diet — just throw a bottle in your purse or in your car. But the juice has to taste great. People want something they are going to enjoy.”

With fresh juices, quality is as important as flavor to the discerning shoppers who purchase them. Bolthouse President and General Manager Scott LaPorta reports that super-premium juices are up 16 percent, while ultra-premium varieties are growing at 81 percent annually.

Last year, Bolthouse launched 1915, a line of ultra-premium, HPP (high-pressure processing) cold-pressed organic juices in five varieties. The 12-ounce juices, which retail for a suggested $4.49, feature nutrient-dense ingredients such as romaine lettuce, carrots, beets, pineapple and blueberries.

Nutritious Knockouts

“Consumers want juices with functionality. They look for juices that offer fruit and vegetable nutrition, vitamins and minerals, as well as proteins and probiotics,” asserts Castillon, who also sees a trend in more innovative blends entering the market.

Bolthouse’s best-selling beverage is Green Goodness, a fruit juice smoothie blend of 15 ingredients, including apple, mango, kiwi and spinach.

The brand plans to introduce new beverages in the spring, which Castillon says will reflect the “core consumer trends dominating the market: taste, functionality, added vitamins, proteins and minerals, as well as unique blends that consumers might not experiment with on their own.”

Sanja Gould, director of communications for Seattle-based Starbucks, which acquired the Evolution Fresh juice company in 2011, also sees taste and functionality resonating with consumers.

“Customers within the fresh juice category have always placed a high importance on taste, and are now more conscious of the nutritional value in the beverages they’re consuming,” she says. “This emphasis on taste and nutrition together has contributed to the rise in consumption of cold-pressed, high-pressure processed juice.”

“Awareness and consumption of fresh juices has seen a sharp increase,” continues Gould. “Specifically, super-premium green juice is greatly outpacing the growth of the $1.6 billion super-premium juice category as a whole, according to IRI.”

Recently, Evolution Fresh, which uses HPP to help retain flavors and nutrients in its juices, expanded distribution to more than 1,300 Starbucks retail locations across Canada.

“This launch marks the first foray into the Canadian market for Evolution Fresh and demonstrates continued business momentum, building on the more than 15,000 points of distribution in the United States, including grocery, natural channel and Starbucks retail locations,” says Gould.

Evolution Fresh’s newest products in its cold-pressed juice line — Organic Coconut Matcha and Organic Citrus Matcha — were created with the demand for great-tasting nutrition in mind. Antioxidant-rich matcha is a type of green tea that’s dried and ground into a fine powder.

“When seeking inspiration for these two innovations, we were excited to see a swell of customer interest in matcha, and we knew that Evolution Fresh could deliver matcha in a way that is both approachable and convenient by combining it with cold-pressed, high-pressure processed fruit and vegetable juice,” notes Gould.

In common with Castillon, she predicts that the fresh juice category will continue to innovate. “Moving forward, we expect to see more creative combinations within the fresh juice category, including innovations that favor palates more accustomed to vegetables and spices, and offer a simple, healthy way to improve health and wellness.”

Very Veggie

While there are scores of consumers who crave fresh juices with fruit-forward flavors, Kellen Stailey, national merchandising director for Grimmway Farms, in Bakersfield, Calif., sees greens driving the category.

“There’s more and more growth in fresh juice products that include vegetables,” says Stailey, who notes that Grimmway’s True Organic Bunched Greens juice is its No. 1 seller. Kaleifornia, which she describes as having a distintive kale taste, is its second-best seller. It’s also one of four new flavors that Grimmway added to its True Organic line in late fall 2015.

“People are gravitating to green, and kale is still ringing the consumer’s bell,” says Stailey, noting, “We’re also seeing the use of more interesting vegetables and root vegetables, as well as more of a drive with organic in the fresh juice category.”

Convenient, nutritious and delicious fresh juices are certainly ticking all the boxes for consumers. But Stailey believes that product placement has been equally important to the success of the category.

“I think a lot of it has to do with placement in the store,” she says. “Many high-traffic areas are dedicated to juices. We see them in the produce department, grab-and-go, on end caps and by the cash registers. Supermarkets are dedicating fresh juices to key points of sale within the retail landscape, and shoppers can’t miss seeing them.”

Simplifying Sipping

With the surge in innovation and product introductions, today’s fresh juice category, while dynamic, can be confusing to consumers.

“It’s becoming difficult for the consumer to navigate through the fresh juice section,” says Natalie Sexton, director of marketing for Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co., in Fort Pierce, Fla. “It’s hard for them to determine which brands are making real, authentic juice, especially with the lack of understanding of terms like ‘HPP,’ ‘cold-pressed’ and ‘flash pasteurization.’ Unfortunately, the FDA has not regulated all the terms being used in the juice category. There is a comment period currently where the FDA is asking for input on regulating the word ‘natural.’”

Natalie’s uses a process called gourmet pasteurization to retain the nutrients and squeezed-fresh authenticity of its juice. The juices are pasteurized for the minimum amount of time allowed by government standards, which Sexton says is 163 degrees Fahrenheit for only six seconds.

“Our philosophy is to minimally process juice for food safety regulations while using only whole fruit and vegetables, or fruit and vegetable purées,” asserts Sexton. “Juice shouldn’t be complicated — the only ingredients should be what is in the name on the label.”

The company’s two newest juice varieties, Orange Beet and Tomato, reflect this philosophy.

Natalie’s Squeezed Fresh Tomato Juice is unlike any other available ultra-processed tomato juice with which the majority of consumers are familiar. The juice is made from just two ingredients: tomatoes and lemon juice.

“Consumers can’t believe how light and refreshing our tomato juice is, because they’re used to a heavy, ultra-processed tomato drink,” explains Sexton, who believes that consumer sampling is essential with Natalie’s products, and has also encouraged chefs and bartenders to make use of the tomato juice.

With no preservatives, Natalie’s juices have a shelf life of 26 or 30 days, depending on the variety.

“Our juice has a short shelf life — like produce, which is a good thing,” says Sexton.

Natalie’s is currently considering several new juices for introduction later this year.

“Consumers have never been more vocal about what they want,” says Sexton. “They want fresher juices with high nutritional value, and they’re willing to spend money on their health.”

“This emphasis on taste and nutrition together has contributed to the rise in consumption of cold-pressed, high-pressure processed juice.”
—Sanja Gould, Starbucks/Evolution Fresh

“People are gravitating to green, and kale is still ringing the consumer’s bell.”
—Kellen Stailey, Grimmway Farms

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