Taking a cue from the world of microbrewed and artisanal beer, FreshBev LLC, which produces a range of cold-pressed, high pressure processed (HPP) juices, recently registered the phrases “craft juice” and “craft bar juice,” which it now uses in the labeling and marketing of its products. FreshBev founder and CEO Michel Boissy pointed to the popularity and widespread acceptance of craft beer as a premium beverage as key to the company’s adoption of “craft” in its branding.
“The idea was, ‘What can we do to immediately have the consumer realize and associate the level of our quality?’ said FreshBev founder and CEO Michel Boissy. “To me, when I think of craft beer, I think smaller batches, smaller factories, regional people, better ingredients, tons of innovation with regard to blends and 100 percent traceability. And that’s exactly what we’re all about.”
Based in New Haven, Conn., FreshBev launched RIPE Bar Juice, a line of high-end, refrigerated cocktail mixers, in 2009 and last year introduced Project Fresh, a brand of organic, cold-pressed juices made with “micro-milled” whole fruits and vegetables.
Positioned as alternative to shelf-stable mixers that are often made with little actual juice content, RIPE (which is now identified as “Craft Bar Juice”), is distributed throughout Whole Foods’ Northeast and North Atlantic regions and also carried in a number of specialty grocers and liquors stores in New England and the tri-State area. The line of mixers is also carried by a range of upscale bars and restaurants in the regions. Boissy indicated that over the next 8-10 months, FreshBev will look to push west for greater distribution of RIPE via a large natural foods distributor and DSD partners in key markets.
FreshBev’s launch of Project Fresh in 2013 came amid greater emphasis by Whole Foods to increase its selection of cold-pressed and HPP juices. FreshBev collaborated with the natural retailer on the development of the brand, which Whole Foods distributes through its refrigerated warehouse in Cheshire, Conn. and services its Northeast region. The internal distribution center is mostly reserved for produce and other perishable items, Boissy said, however the retailer also distributes a handful of packaged goods, including FreshBev’s juices, which Boissy positions as part of the produce set.
“We kind of have a produce focus, more than grocery,” Boissy said. “With the produce model, we were lucky enough to get into [the distribution center].”
While Project Fresh had initially been marketed as a “raw organic craft cleanse,” Boissy said that the word “raw” is something the company is “trying to get away from,” particularly considering that the use of “raw” by HPP juice brands has a been target of class-action lawsuits. He also noted that “cleanse” wasn’t representative of the everyday refreshment occasion of Project Fresh.
Boissy said that the process of registering “craft juice” took about 12-18 months, and that FreshBev is gearing for further development of its brands through an expansion in production infrastructure, greater distribution and strategic partnerships. Yet while the company continues to grow, Boissy said that the mission of delivering ultra-high quality juice to consumers will always remain the same.
“Our model is to extract juice, get it in the bottle within an hour, HPP it and sell it next day,” Boissy said.