Evolution Fresh Cracks Chicago Market, Preps for Label Update

Making a major push into the Midwest, Starbucks today announced that its Evolution Fresh cold-pressed juices are now available in the company’s Chicago area cafes. Although Evolution Fresh products are sold across the U.S., the brand’s presence in Chicago was limited to Whole Foods stores and other natural grocers in the region. Now with placement in more than 360 Starbucks stores in and around the Windy City, the company is aiming for greater awareness and trial of Evolution Fresh juices.

Although Chicago represents a critical market for consumer brands with national aspirations, Evolution Fresh had yet to establish a significant foothold in the city. Chris Bruzzo, senior vice president and general manager for Evolution Fresh, said Starbucks’ decision on entering Chicago was a matter of timing and resources, but that juice brand will now benefit from “even more critical mass in that marketplace.”

In a statement about the distribution expansion, Starbucks stated that “in addition to Chicago, other areas benefiting from Midwest distribution include most of Illinois, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Cleveland.” The company also said that it will continue toward nationwide distribution of Evolution Fresh in company-operated Starbucks stores throughout 2014.

Bruzzo said “a big part of being able to tell the Evolution story is in Starbucks stores” and that the Midwest expansion, much like the brand’s foray into other major markets, will enable the company to educate its baristas about Evolution Fresh, and, by extension, consumers that are not yet familiar the cold-pressed, high-pressure processed (HPP) juices.

“Teaching our partners about Evolution Fresh is of critical importance [to the development of the brand],” Bruzzo said.

Bruzzo also noted the Evolution Fresh bottle and label continue to play a key role in educating consumers about the brand and how the juices are processed, particularly as cold-pressure and HPP have yet to reach mainstream awareness and understanding. To that end, Starbucks will introduce an updated label later this year, one that will give greater emphasis to the cold-press process and include key information about ingredient content. The new label will also include the Non-GMO Project verification seal, which is not featured on the current label.

Discussing sales growth outside of Starbucks stores, Bruzzo said that strong same-store sales of Evolution Fresh have propelled the brand to a 1.7 share of the juice category in the grocery channel. And within the natural channel, Evolution now owns more than a 12 percent share of the juice market, according to Bruzzo, who cited data from SPINS, a leading provider of syndicated market research.  Bruzzo noted that price point for Evolution Fresh juices, which range from $3-7, has been an important part of the growth. Evolution’s prices represent a very accessible option for consumers as they look to trade up from traditional and pasteurized juice options, he said.