BALTIMORE — A pioneer in the premium cold-pressed juice category, Evolution Fresh, a business unit of Starbucks Corp., is tapping into trends to stay ahead of emerging competition. At Natural Products Expo East, held Sept. 21-24 in Baltimore, the brand debuted a line of Evolution Fresh Organic Superfoods smoothies featuring such ingredients as turmeric, kale and spirulina.
Slated to hit shelves next March, the beverages feature chia seed, baobab and acerola cherry, plus, for the first time, coconut milk, blended with fruits and vegetables. Varieties include Greens; turmeric and cocoa; cocoa; turmeric and ginger; turmeric Golden Milk; and pineapple, mint and ginger.
|Jimmy Rosenberg, founder of Evolution Fresh|
“Really, the initial inspiration was, I feed myself a superfood smoothie every morning, and it has a lot of these ingredients in it,” said Jimmy Rosenberg, founder of Evolution Fresh, in an interview with Food Business News. “We wanted to offer to the consumer something that’s organic, lower sugar because of the coconut milk base, and superfood nutrient dense.”
Also new from Evolution Fresh is cold-pressed watermelon juice, which contains no added sugars, artificial colors or flavors. Potassium-rich and refreshing, watermelon juice is often used as a sports drink, Mr. Rosenberg said.
“(The product) really highlights what cold-pressed is all about,” he said. “The whole idea of cold-pressed versus heat pasteurization is you’re supposed to be able to taste the authenticity of the juice, of what it was juiced from.”
With an estimated $100 million in annual sales, the cold-pressed juice market continues to gain traction as more players enter the segment. Earlier this year, PepsiCo’s Naked brand unveiled its Pressed line of cold-pressed juice varieties, following the Campbell Soup Co.’s launch of its 1915 line of cold-pressed juices under the Bolthouse Farms brand the year before.
But years earlier, in 2010, Evolution Fresh began using high-pressure processing to manufacture its juices, a technology that preserves the nutrient density and freshness of the ingredients, Mr. Rosenberg said.
“From our perspective, we created a new category called ‘H.P.P. cold-pressed juice,’ and we needed assistance, in a sense, to educate and inspire,” he said. “How do we see cold-pressed and our competitors? We’ve been doing it for a long time, so we have a depth of knowledge and education. It’s not new for us. It’s not like we recently thought, ‘Hey, this is a trending category of cold-pressed juice, and we should jump on it.’ We understand it, and we truly do believe it’s the ultimate way to bring juice to the consumer.”
In 2011, Starbucks Coffee Co. acquired San Bernardino, Calif.-based Evolution Fresh for $30 million. On the heels of that deal, the Hain Celestial Group purchased BluePrint, a maker of H.P.P. juice beverages and cleanses, and the Coca-Cola Co. bought a minority stake in Suja, which offers a range of cold-pressed juice beverages.
Partnering with Starbucks has helped Evolution Fresh quickly expand its distribution footprint. Today, products are available in approximately 15,000 retail outlets, including Starbucks locations. Mr. Rosenberg declined to share the business’s financial performance but described sales growth as “healthy.”
Two years following the acquisition, the company opened a new $70 million, 240,000-square-foot juice processing plant in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., allowing Evolution Fresh to quadruple production, sourcing fruits and vegetables within 400 miles of the manufacturing site.
“In this business, when you’re a small player, it’s really hard to get your raw ingredients the way we’re doing it,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “Now that we’re bigger, and you can find our products in Starbucks as well, which helps our volume, we can go direct to the farms and partner with the farmers. It’s a huge advantage.“Here’s an example. Once our kale gets harvested, in two to three days it’s is in our juicery in our presses… (The acquisition) has enabled us to do more volume in order to have direct sourcing and farm partnerships that makes our juices fresher.”