High pressure processing (HPP) might be drawing attention to green juices and other high-nutrient blends, but according to at least one natural products veteran, when it comes to merchandising — with all due respect — the rent is just too damn high.
That’s why Made in Nature is trying to zig while others are zagging, introducing a new set of nutritious, premium juices called Telula in the shelf-stable juice aisle, long considered something of a center store backwater. Coming at a time when some older juice companies, most notably Campbell’s and Ocean Spray are trying to make a break for the produce section and cold box, where new, independent brands are commanding high prices for single serve packages, the Telula line hopes to update the set, rather than flee it.
“There hasn’t been any innovation in shelf-stable juices for 25 years,” notes Brian Ross, who joined natural products powerhouse Made in Nature last year as head of innovation following a long stretch as part-owner and CEO of Cheribundi. “They’re all in the same bottles, the same blends they’ve always been in. Everyone has forgotten about that set.”
Telula, which will launch at the Natural Products Expo West show on Friday, brings many of the 100-percent juice, whole-fruit-and-vegetable blends, along with other trendy ingredients like chia and tumeric, into a 10-SKU line of multi-serve bottles. The brand includes varieties like Green Fusion, Green Zing, Melon Mint and Tart Cherry Chia. The idea is to bring a lot of the high-function ingredients that are currently found in the Sujas and BluePrints of the world — all dependent on cold-chain distribution and careful handling to preserve their limited, pressure-enhanced shelf lives — to a more accessible price point.
The 32 oz. proprietary glass bottles have organic, non-gmo, not-from-concentrate ingredients, Ross noted, and carry calorie counts equal to or lower than category leader Suja. The suggested retail price is between $5.99 and $7.99, and if the juices start to sell, Ross sees Telula as a potential platform for more center store innovation.
“Anything that’s happening in the cold box, we feel we could take to center store under this brand,” he said. “We could be looking at a category reset.”
Despite the trendiness of its processing methods, which use pressure to control bacteria that can cause spoilage, HPP juices themselves have some detractors, who claim that its products aren’t able to compare with the nutritional value of fresh-pressed produce. Ross said he believes the shelf stable side of the store has its own advantages.
“I’m not a big believer in HPP,” he said. “You’ve got consumers paying twice as much — or more — when they’re really trading heat for pressure. It’s still pasteurization. So we’re bringing juice for the people.”