Before he was selling soda, Peter van Stolk was slinging freshly-squeezed juices out of his truck in Edmonton. Nearly 30 years later, the Jones Soda founder’s latest venture is bringing him back to his juicing roots.
In 2010, three years after his abrupt departure from Jones, van Stolk became CEO of SPUD, a Vancouver-based organic produce delivery business. Today SPUD employs over 350 people, bringing organic and local groceries to consumers in Vancouver, Edmonton, Victoria, Calgary, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
In 2014 SPUD served as the platform for van Stolk’s entry into the cold-pressed juice beverage market. Last July the company launched its own private label juice brand The Juice Box, delivering 100 percent organic cold-pressed juices throughout Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Richmond, with plans to enter a fifth city in 2015. The brand carries 19 juices and nut milk varieties.
SPUD’s private label juice brand didn’t remain all that private for long. The Juice Box has since been made available at two of the largest retail grocers in the Vancouver area, Save-On-Foods and Marketplace IGA, as well as many of the city’s independent coffee shops. According to van Stolk, it’s slated to enter Whole Foods later this year.
“It’s got such an offering that people want to sell it everywhere,” he says. “It feels good selling a product that doesn’t have Blue Bubble Gum attached to its name,” he adds, with a laugh.
In addition to now selling a health-conscious beverage, another major difference from his time at Jones is that van Stolk’s now dealing with a product with a 4-5 day shelf life, and he intends to keep his juices raw. With no plans to pasteurize The Juice Box’s products in any way, including high pressure processing, the SPUD CEO says he’s in a unique position to handle the challenges of a limited shelf life.
“The typical beverage model is you have one facility and you ship your product from there across North America. Under that model, I’d have no choice but to HPP,” he explains. “But the wonderful thing is I’m a retailer, and my retail operations have their own warehouses in each location where they’ve got tons of fresh produce. So we have no plans to go HPP. The plan is to put more juicers in more of our facilities.”
van Stolk’s already expanded on this marriage of being a retailer and a beverage brand with the like-minded The Soup Box. Offering 1-day, 3-day, and 5-day organic soup cleanses, The Soup Box launched in Vancouver earlier this month, giving Juice Box customers a warmer alternative for getting their nutrients.
“We’re creating these private label brands that we know will get picked up by large retailers,” he says. “Because they’re just really good brands.”