The cold-pressed category
Many of the terms used to market the new generation of premium fruit and vegetable juices are unregulated. This includes the increasingly popular “cold pressed.”
Cold pressed refers to a juicing process. The more traditional method of extracting liquid from fruits and vegetables is centrifugal juicing. This is where fast-spinning blades expel the juices, as compared to the slow “pulverizer” with a hydraulic press that is used in cold-pressed technology.
Most of the bottled juice brands driving sales in the segment fall into the category of cold pressed, with many of these juices further undergoing high-pressure processing (H.P.P.) in order to obtain about a 30-day refrigerated shelf life. The H.P.P. technology uses high pressure and no heat to kill potentially harmful microorganisms to ensure a safe and good-tasting product.
Consumer interest in cold-pressed juice is fueled by research showing this type of juicing preserves the integrity of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. This is because the blades encountered in centrifugal juicing generate heat and circulate air, both of which may have a deleterious effect on nutrients. With cold-pressed processing, these elements are negligible.
|Anne Vlahos, business development manager for beverages at Vegetable Juices Inc.|
“Key lifestyle trends such as health and wellness and simplicity draw consumers to healthy meals and snacks. As a part of these trends, they are reaching for more fruits and vegetables, but in ways that are convenient yet maximize freshness and nutrition,” said Anne Vlahos, business development manager for beverages, Vegetable Juices Inc., a Naturex company, Bedford Park, Ill. “The H.P.P. cold-pressed juice segment has really taken off because these juices are perfectly in line with these two major trends and speak directly to today’s busy, health-conscious consumer.”
Vegetable Juices has been producing cold-pressed pasteurized juices since 1934. Recently, the company began offering unpasteurized cold-pressed juices to beverage formulators.
“In observing the rapid growth of this segment since 2011, we knew offering our cold-pressed juices in an unpasteurized form was a logical next step for us,” Ms. Vlahos said. “We felt we could offer our experience in sourcing and processing to provide this growing segment consistent, high-quality raw juice that is available year round. Through a combination of our proprietary processes and some new processes, we’re now able to safely offer cold-pressed juices that ensure freshness, vibrant flavors and natural colors without pasteurization.
“Our unpasteurized premium vegetable juice line is a first for the global beverage industry. We’ve combined our decades of processing experience with an innovative non-thermal, non-enzymatic process that’s unique to the industry. It’s minimally processed, cold-pressed and ready for H.P.P.”
The initial line includes beet, celery, cucumber, ginger, kale, romaine lettuce and spinach juices, along with custom blends in both conventional and organic forms. Line extensions are planned. The juices are frozen immediately after processing and have a shelf life of at least six months in the frozen state.
Leading the cold-pressed packaged juice movement is San Diego-based Suja Juice Co., which The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, acquired a minority stake in one year ago. Suja started as a small home-delivery juice company less than five years ago and earned recognition from Forbes in 2015 as the No. 2 most promising company. The company has experienced significant growth in the natural foods and conventional grocery channels, selling more than 40 million bottles of cold-pressed H.P.P. organic juices. In September, the company will expand its juice range with a new line of functional drinking vinegars made with organic apple cider vinegar and cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices.
The fermented and unfiltered drinking vinegars contain 20 to 30 calories and 3 to 6 grams of naturally occurring sugar per 13.5-oz bottle, offering a light sweetness with no added concentrates or extracts. The ready-to-drink juice beverages will come in five flavor combinations: cucumber ginger, hibiscus ancho chile, lemon cayenne, peach ginger and strawberry balsamic.
The consumption of vinegar as a medicinal and cosmetic elixir may be traced back thousands of years to the Greeks and Romans. Fermented apple cider vinegar is the most well-known, likely because of its palatable flavor profile, as compared to other vinegars. However, as today’s health- and wellness-seeking consumer embraces the concept of drinking vinegars, others fermented fruit vinegars are being explored.
For example, Pressery L.L.C., Westminster, Colo., which makes cold-pressed bottled juices using only locally grown fruits and vegetables, now offers its juices blended with coconut vinegar. As a source of potassium, amino acids and enzymes, coconut vinegar provides a natural source of energy.
Most recently, the company began blending its juices with bone broths, taking the vegan company into the carnivore space. Offerings include chicken apple kale and beef orange rosemary.
Lake Success, N.Y.-based BluePrint, a brand of The Hain Celestial Group Inc., now combines organic cold-pressed juices with fermented tea, to offer functional benefits such as digestion and immunity.
“When small-batch brewed kombucha is blended with our crafted organic cold-pressed juice, we think it truly is ‘magic in a bottle,’” said Alex Galindez, general manager at BluePrint.
Trying to stay competitive with the entrepreneurial cold-pressed juice players, The Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., continues to invest in its Bolthouse Farms brand. The 1915 juice line, a nod to Bolthouse’s founding year, now includes cold-pressed juice blends with coconut water as well as plant proteins.