Video: Suja CEO Church – New Essentials Line Will be “Scale Driver”

With a major round of investment in hand, Suja is set to launch a third line of cold-pressed/high pressure processed juice products, one that CEO Jeff Church hopes will catapult the brand into mainstream consciousness and attract a broad base of consumers.

Suja Essentials is a new five-SKU line of products that bares a number of similarities to the company’s Elements line — which was co-developed by Whole Foods and is sold exclusively at the natural retailer — in terms of the products’ texture and ingredients. Unlike Elements, however, Suja’s latest expansion will debut in two of the largest mainstream grocers in the U.S.: Kroger and Safeway.

The launch of Essentials follows news that private equity firm Alliance Consumer Growth has made a significant investment in Suja, a round of funding that the company will primarily use to pay for increased capital expenditures in juicing and pressing equipment.

Aside from branding, of which Essentials more closely resembles Suja’s primary line, the new juices feature somewhat simpler formulations as compared to Elements products. Example: Elements’ Green Charge contains apple, pineapple, banana, mango, kiwi, kale and spinach combined with chia seed, flax seed, barley grass, spirulina, chlorella, and alfalfa. Essentials’ Green Delight is a green juice made with apples, spirulina and chlorophyll.

As might be expected, Essentials comes in at a lower price point than Elements, which retails for $4.99 per 12 oz. bottle. Essentials will launch with a suggested retail price of $3.99, putting the brand more in line with retail prices of Naked and Odwalla, the two most visible and heavily distributed super-premium juice brands. For Church, Essentials, which he refers to as the company’s “scale driver,” is Suja’s opportunity to offer a significant point of differentiation from Naked and Odwalla — each of which blend and pasteurize their products — in terms of quality and taste, and establish an affordable base line for organic, cold-pressed juices.

“We very much view [Essentials] as the product line of the future of the company, and where people all around the country will have access to it at a very affordable price point,” Church said in a recent interview with BevNET CEO John Craven. “It’s really going to be the product that we think becomes the much larger product. So if you look at it almost as a pyramid with the classic line at the top of that pyramid — given its price point and what’s in it – and then as you get more to the base, you’ve got the Elements product line and then the broader base, which is the Essential product line.”

Essentials will debut this month at 700 Kroger stores around the U.S. and approximately 400 Safeway locations in California, and Church said that Suja will introduce six additional SKUs of Essentials at the upcoming Natural Products Expo West show.

In this video, filmed at Suja’s headquarters in San Diego, watch as Church discusses much more about the launch of Essentials and the company’s expansion into mainstream retail, a significant step for Suja which, until now, has sold its products primarily within the natural channel. Church also offers details on how the build-out of its San Diego facility as well as the construction of its new plant in Philadelphia, which is scheduled to come on line later this year, are expected to bring total production up to approximately 800,000 bottles per week.