Los Angeles-based cold-pressed juice company Juice Served Here (JSH) has inked a deal with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) to add a new line of juices and lemonades in all of its corporate-owned cafes. The new JSH products will debut on Sept. 1 and replace Naked Juice beverages that are currently sold at CBTL stores.
The partnership is part of a strategy by CBTL to offer more upscale and premium products to its customers, according to JSH co-founder and CEO Alex Matthews.
“It’s a philosophical change; it’s a big change,” Matthews told BevNET. “The cold-pressed juices replacing Naked is one of the steps they’re taking, along with quite a few others. They’re embracing the more premium price point.”
Matthews and CBTL executives first met about a year ago to discuss a possible partnership and his view of an evolving and symbiotic relationship between coffee and juice. Upon coming to initial terms of an agreement, JSH spent approximately six months developing a new package size and label for the line, which comes in six high pressure processed (HPP) varieties: four juice blends and two lemonades. The products will retail for $5.99.
Packaged in 12 oz. plastic bottles, the labels prominently feature the words “Cold Pressed Juice” and “Cold Pressed Lemonade.” The front panel also includes the name of each variety, an ingredient list and a small JSH logo on the lower right corner. Hannah Ells, the Brand Development and Marketing Manager for JSH, said that the labels were designed to be “a little bit easier to understand by the masses.”
The line will be initially be available exclusively at CBTL’s corporate-owned locations, however, distribution at the company’s approximately 100 franchise-operated cafes is slated for the near future. Matthews said that “other projects are in the works” for JSH’s 12 oz. size.
The deal with CBTL is a continuation of JSH’s emerging wholesale business, which it launched last year following the construction of a new manufacturing and bottling plant and the development of a secondary line of products that undergo HPP and have a 60-day shelf life. By comparison, the company’s primary line of juices, sold at its 12 retail shops and some local cafes, have a three-day shelf life.
In June natural grocery chain Sprouts began selling JSH’s entire seven-SKU line of lemonades in all of its stores. Premium priced at $6.50 per 15 oz. bottle, the drinks, which are merchandised in Sprouts’ deli section, are “doing really well,” Matthews said. He noted that the brand’s Aloe, Berry and Charcoal lemonades are the top-selling varieties at the retailer.
With 250 locations, Sprouts represents the largest wholesale partner for JSH to date. The company’s beverages are also available at Southern California-based grocery chains Gelsons and Bristol Farms. Meanwhile, JSH continues to see growth in its food service business, and over the past year, it has expanded distribution to a number of upscale restaurant and hotel groups; clients include STK/One, Fairmont, Four Seasons and Ace Hotel.
JSH is also putting greater resources into ecommerce and recently brought on former Red Bull executive Ben Knox to head up online sales and digital marketing. Knox was most recently the national ecommerce manager for Red Bull where he oversaw sales and digital marketing on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Instacart, and Jet.com, among other sites.
Knox told BevNET that he envisions JSH’s ecommerce business to one day comprise 20 percent of total sales for the company, a plan that he hopes to achieve by improving customer experience for its service.
“From the time someone discovers our website to when they become a customer and receive our products in the mail, they should be absolutely wowed with every touch point,” Knox said. “The experience should be so easy and enjoyable they can’t help but come back again and again.”
Although the company has high expectations for its ecommerce platform, JSH retail stores will remain core to its business model, which is evolving to include locations with a dual focus on coffee and juice. Earlier this year the company opened its first such store in Culver City, Calif.
Supporting the expansion of its retail operations is former CBTL president and CEO Mel Elias, who joined JSH as an equity investor and board member in May. Matthews described Elias as someone who “brings a vast amount of multi-unit food retail experience.”
Elias worked for CBTL for almost 17 years, holding the role of president and CEO from March, 2008 to December, 2013, at which point he led the sale of a majority of the company to three private equity groups.
“He has coffee experience, which is core to our [retail] store strategy, going forward,” Matthews said. “He is also an incredible mind when it comes to the investment community. There’s a lot of synergies with Mel and what we’re trying to do.”