Video: Expo West 2014 Profile — Garden of Flavor

When we’ve seen companies fuse disparate categories into one beverage, it’s the consumers who often inspire the innovation.

We saw it with Joth Ricci, the president of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, who paid heed to the loyalists of his 10 cafes. Ricci saw that they were adding milk to their cold brew coffee and then he packaged it for them. We also saw the practice with “Dirty Chai,” the tea and coffee blend from Sweet Leaf Tea. When the company discovered that coffee shop pros were already adding a shot of espresso to their tea, Sweet Leaf created a ready-to-drink version.

It’s the same story with Cleveland-based Garden of Flavor, which blends cold-pressed juice with probiotics.

“Many of my customers already find the need to take a probiotic in addition to juicing and yoga,” said Lisa Reed, the founder of Garden of Flavor.

She said that many juice drinkers and health-conscious consumers of the Midwest take probiotics in a capsule form, which they pick up in a refrigerated section of a natural grocer. They’re interested in the ability of probiotics to aid with digestion and support the immune system. However, with Garden of Flavor, she’s aiming to provide these consumers with another option that’s more pleasant than ingesting a capsule and less expensive and more convenient than separately buying juice and probiotics.

Despite the functional benefits innately packed in juices via protein and antioxidants, among a number of other properties, Reed isn’t adding probiotics just for the sake of deploying yet another trendy ingredient with a positive perception. She’s meeting consumer demand.

Garden of Flavor offers probiotics (the same strain used by GT’s Kombucha, Reed said) in Turmeric Tonic, an organic blend of lemon, blue agave, turmeric root, ginger root, mint and cayenne pepper; Green Harmony, an organic blend of cucumber, apples, romaine lettuce, kale, celery, lemon, spinach and parsley; and Appleade, an organic blend of apple, lemon and ginger root. Appleade has a more basic ingredient profile because Reed markets the beverage toward children as well, she said.

Another five of Garden of Flavor’s juices contain no probiotic strains — Goji Pineapple, Cucumber Fresh, Mean Green, Twisted Roots and White Knight.

“We’re still giving the customers a choice,” Reed said.

Grocers who have already sold cold-pressed juices are most interested in the point of differentiation offered by Garden of Flavor’s probiotic juices. However, Reed added that most retailers haven’t yet passed the surface of the cold-pressed juice movement. This could be the first time that many retailers are thinking about carrying this kind of product. Reed said that only about 30 percent of the juice she sells contains probiotics and it could be a while until that number significantly spikes.

“Just the idea of cold-pressed juice is still very new and fresh,” she said.

Coming from the Midwest — Cleveland, specifically — Reed said that she knows plenty about the tendency of people to overlook and disrespect the region, which is seemingly borderless and hard to define. However, some of those same factors have enabled Garden of Flavor to generate a strong following in an underserved but health-conscious part of the country, she said.

The West Coast is well stocked with juice companies, she said, so she’s in no hurry to distribute there. In the meantime, the company is searching for an investment partner with similar goals. Garden of Flavor has also been working on a distribution deal with UNFI and KeHE and hopes to soon scale the brand in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southwest regions.

As a 9-month-old brand in one of the beverage industry’s hottest categories, Garden of Flavor doesn’t mind a quiet rise from an equally quiet locale.

“It allowed us the ability to fly under the radar for a while and get our footing,” Reed said, “without the competition you’d get on the East and West Coast.”

Watch the embedded video, which was filmed at Natural Products Expo West 2014, to learn more about Garden of Flavor and why Reed chose to include probiotics in her cold-pressed juice line.