Leaning on high-pressure processing (HPP) as a way to bring its super-premium juices to a growing class of health-focused consumers, Suja has quickly emerged as significant player in the rapidly expanding field of raw juice companies.
Despite being less than a year old, the San Diego-based company now distributes single serve bottles of its juice products in nine of the 11 Whole Foods’ regions across the country, recently purchased its own HPP machine, and is close to completing the construction of a new production facility in Philadelphia, which will enable Suja to expand its reach along the East Coast and Midwest.
Launched in 2012, Suja began as a home-delivery business with its raw and organic juices bundled in “lifestyle” and cleanse packages. In September, the company scored its first major retail deal with Whole Foods’ Southern California region, and over the past six months, Suja has gained new distribution across the U.S. and through to Massachusetts.
As the notion of a “raw” product has resonated with health-focused consumers, a significant driver of growth for Suja is its use of HPP, which, in addition to making its products safe to drink, extends the shelf life of the raw juice blends. Along with Suja, HPP has generated a high level of new demand from a growing number of raw juice companies looking to give their products greater commercial viability.
In an interview filmed at Suja’s booth at the recently held Natural Products Expo West show, BevNET founder and CEO John Craven sat down with Jeff Church, CEO, Suja and Joyce Longfield, an independent HPP consultant who has worked with the company to develop its HPP strategy, to discuss Suja’s plans for a deeper footprint in the natural market, and even beyond.
“I see [HPP] as a natural evolution toward a healthier and healthier product,” Church said. “I think it’s the next generation of where pasteurization was and has been in the past.”
While HPP may be the eventual future for super premium juice, the costs associated with its use are currently a significant hurdle to overcome. Lacking the capital to invest in highly expensive HPP machines, juice companies are most often forced to transport their products to one of a handful of HPP facilities around the country. However, in a bid to reduce its dependence and the cost of sending its products from San Diego to an HPP facility in Long Beach, Suja recent purchased an HPP machine at a cost of $1.2 million to begin processing some of its juice on its own.
Watch this video as Church offers more on why Suja is banking on HPP, as well as how he views the brand as one that can move beyond the cleanse category and become a leader in the overarching health and wellness movement. In addition, Longfield presents a brief technical and regulatory overview of HPP and why the system offers companies a leg up in offering consumers drinks with a higher nutritional retention rate than via pasteurization.