What does $70 million and a new 264,000 sq. ft. production facility have to do with the future of cold-pressed juice? For Evolution Fresh founder and “Chief Juice Officer” Jimmy Rosenberg: everything.
In recent interview filmed on location at the company’s vast headquarters and juicery in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Rosenberg sat down with BevNET CEO John Craven for a wide-ranging interview in which Rosenberg offers his views on the emergence of the cold-pressed juice category — and its impact on the overall juice market — as well as his long term vision for Evolution Fresh.
Rosenberg, who also founded Naked Juice (now a PepsiCo-owned brand) and has been in the juice business for over 30 years, praised the innovation and entrepreneurial activity taking place within the juice category. Change is certainly more gradual than transformative, however, Rosenberg believes that sustained consumer interest in highly fresh and nutritious juices, particularly of the cold-pressed/high pressure processed (HPP) variety, is a trend that he views as the next evolution of juice.
Nevertheless, he expressed significant concern that some new and upstart juice companies, many of which market their products as “raw,” are missing the technical skills required to ensure safety standards for raw juice, a liquid known for its high potential for contamination. And despite their passion and excitement for the cold-pressed category, most juice entrepreneurs lack the upfront financing for the often high incremental costs associated with HPP toll processing, nor the massive investment required to purchase, or even lease, an HPP machine.
“In order to hit the freshest, cleanest, safest, you need to invest some big dollars to achieve that, because when you don’t do that, you’re going to compromise some of level of cleanliness and safety, and that’s not acceptable,” Rosenberg said. “There is a responsibility, because if somebody tarnishes the new category of cold-pressed [juice] by not doing it right, it’s going to bring down potentially the whole category.”
Certainly, funding isn’t an issue for Evolution Fresh, which was acquired by Starbucks in 2011 and opened its new juicery in October. Evolution’s state of the art facility is complete with shimming steel pressing units, massive (and high-tech) floor to ceiling juice vessels, and four Hyperbaric-built HPP machines (likely cost: upwards of $10 million, or more), with room to add four more. Add to the equation Evolution’s established and long-term agreements with local farms, and it’s easy to understand Rosenberg’s mindset on quality and freshness standards, which the company proactively guards.
Yet, despite the seemingly vast advantages that Evolution Fresh has over competing brands, a critical question remains: can cold-pressed/HPP juice become the norm at some point? While cold-pressed juices have achieved explosive growth in the natural channel, their high price (most range from $4-12 for a 15-16 oz. bottle) is limiting to mainstream acceptance. However, Rosenberg believes that at the level in which Evolution can scale its business (the juicery has the capacity to produce 140,000 gallons of juice per week, according to Chris Bruzzo, senior vice president, Evolution Fresh), the company will be able to eventually reach an affordable cost for everyday consumers.
“I believe that there will always be some different quality standards of juice out there, because I think that it pertains to price point,” Rosenberg said. “The pasteurized companies, I call them ‘blend factories,’ because they’re bringing in pre-processed juices, and it is more cost-effective, in a sense. Now, if you’re doing [cold-pressed/HPP juice] on a scale that we’re doing it in and you’re having relationships with farmers and making the upfront investment in building a state-of-the-art juicery, we believe we can get the price down.”
Watch this video to hear much more from Rosenberg on the development of Evolution Fresh since its acquisition by Starbucks, his thoughts on HPP vs. raw juices, as well as an in-depth and behind-the-scenes look at the company’s new juicery. (For juice enthusiasts and others alike, BevNET’s exclusive footage of the facility is can’t miss stuff.)