The category of cold-pressed juice has matured, and at Whole Foods, the largest retailer in the natural grocery channel, there’s not much more room — if any — for brands seeking a national presence within the chain. That’s the assessment of a high-ranking Whole Foods executive who spoke with BevNET on the floor at the 2015 Natural Products Expo East, which featured many cold-pressed/cold-pressured brands, but seemingly fewer than at the two previous editions of the event. Although Whole Foods, which has played a prominent role in the rise of the cold-pressed, high pressure processed (HPP) juice brands, remains a key destination for new entrants to the category, it appears that most opportunity for placement will come at the regional level.
The good news for brands of all sizes is that the rapid pace at which the category has drawn interest is creating new distribution opportunities outside of Whole Foods and beyond the natural channel. Moreover, growing consumer demand for emerging ingredients, such as matcha and probiotics, has enabled brands to innovate beyond basic green juices and fruit juice blends, something that was widely visible at Expo East.
Beverage innovation seen at the show was certainly not limited to juices, as attendees were privy to a range of new and unique offerings, as the event showcased growing use of HPP for products that fall outside of the cold-pressed juice category, including Rebbl’s coconut milk-based “elixirs,” Temple Turmeric’s Holiday Lassi and Fire Cider products, Cham, a chamomile tea drink, and Tio Gazpacho. Expo East also featured the continued development of tree-based waters, in particular those of the maple variety, as well as that of beverage brands expanding into snacks and other foods.
Watch this video as BevNET CEO John Craven and BevNET Managing Editor Ray Latif discuss in detail the evolution of emerging trends and innovation seen at Expo East, their assessment of nascent beverage categories and brands within them, and what to expect for the natural beverage industry in the months ahead.