While a lot of the attention in the juice category has gone to the High Pressure Processing crowd, a couple of intriguing companies have popped up recently and their progress in 2014 might be a strong indicator of mid-tier category innovation.
From Southern California, Juiceology is two years into a marketing push that saw a cattle family from Brazil try its hand at a branded product in the U.S. Founded by Brazilian national Felipe Davila, the products include flash-pasteurized, aseptically-filled refrigerated juices that have been blended with whole grain extracts for a higher fiber content to promote satiety.
Davila, 32, has raised a round from a Brazilian private equity firm, and has managed to get the product into California-based Kroger, Ralph’s, Raley’s, Albertson’s and Bristol Farms stores via UNFI. The brand also landed in Duane Reade in Manhattan in the fall, which could be a harbinger of more New York work to come.
“We’re putting in an office in New York,” Davila said. “In 2014, our total priority is going to be the East Coast.”
The brand has reached a little more than $1 million in sales in its first two years; next year, the hope is to triple that amount, providing a better proof-of-concept for both the four-SKU, 15.2 oz. plastic bottle line and also the company’s proprietary extracts.
“We’re the only juice in the market that carries this kind of fiber,” Davila said. “This is work, but it’s a great industry. Just being able to compete against Bolthouse, Coke, Pepsi, it’s awesome.”
Another juice company, New Jersey-based Mojo Organics, has recently launched with a founder who knows all about Coke and Pepsi, as he came from the Coca-Cola bottler world. Run by Glenn Simpson, a two-time bottler of the year for Coca-Cola when he ran the brand’s Uzbekistan operation in the late 1990s, Mojo Organics went to market in the fall with four varieties of juices licensed from Chiquita International: Banana Strawberry, Mango, Passionfruit and Pineapple.
Called Chiquita Tropicals, the brand is not, as the company’s moniker would suggest, organic, but Simpson said there are plans to move in that direction in the near future, albeit possibly not with Chiquita.
Simpson said he’s relying on Chiquita’s high level of brand awareness to help build sales for the new company.
“The brand stands for a lot in the U.S.,” Simpson said. “It has permission to go into juice and beyond.”
Trying to establish a beachhead in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area, Simpson said that Mojo is bucking the HPP trend and trying to add distribution as an easy-to-merchandise shelf-stable product. It’s also recently added a West Coast broker, CMC Marketing, to try to grow its footprint.
“It’s a huge advantage to us because we don’t have to be in the cold chain from point-of-production to point-of-sale,” Simpson said. “The biggest advantage is that in the cold chain, when products go through it, there can be a hiccup at a lot of points along the way.”
Mojo is publicly traded, having taken on a dormant public company as an asset.
“The hypothesis is that we’ll be able to attract capital at better pricing than if we weren’t publicly traded,” Simpson said.