NutriFresh Shifting Focus Away from Juice Co-Packing

Pivoting to embrace its growing e-commerce and high-pressure processing (HPP) business, Nutrifresh has ceased in-house juice manufacturing operations at its Edison, N.J.-based production facility. The decision closes a unit Nutrifresh launched in December 2015 to specialize in cold-pressed juices, nut milks and other fresh beverages.

On Tuesday, NutriFresh announced in a press release it had made a “strategic decision to move all its juice manufacturing to its network of partner co-pack facilities,” including East Coast Copacking in Brooklyn and True Fresh in California. As those operations are shifted over, the company announced it is “investing significant resources into expanding its e-Commerce fulfillment and Direct-To-Consumer capabilities.”

“NutriFresh personnel spent significant time and resources in the last couple of months assisting our partner facilities with training and equipment transfers to allow for the smoothest possible transition for our juice clients,” said NutriFresh COO Chris Jenkins, in the statement. “We understood that this process could be extremely disruptive to any brand and wanted to make sure we allow them the most painless transition possible.”

The fresh co-packing unit was part of NutriFresh’s Edison production and warehousing facility, which includes three Hiperbaric HPP machines and 140,000 sq. ft. of refrigerated storage.

In a call with BevNET last week, NutriFresh CEO Guy Ironi said he began personally calling the company’s “six or seven” co-packing partners to inform them about the forthcoming change between two months to six weeks before the facility’s final production run on Oct. 10. He said his company is assisting its now-former clients in transitioning to new facilities that can service their needs.

“The reason for the change is simple: we see hyper-growth in our HPP and our refrigerated perishable e-commerce fulfillment,” he said, adding that NutriFresh is currently shipping around 10,000-25,000 e-commerce order fulfillments per week, with the goal of reaching around 100,000 fulfillments per week. “We are seeing six, seven times growth between quarters. When we had to look at the core effectiveness of the the facility to service this, we saw that there were excellent facilities in the area that we felt were ready to take over these projects. So we felt it was a win-win for everybody.”

Ironi said that as the HPP and e-commerce divisions were growing, NutriFresh had to decide whether to expand its existing space or spin off its juice production. Shifting away from in-house juice production will allow the company to “do what we do best, which is HPP and ecommerce fulfillment,” he said.

Ironi said he has taken steps to ensure quality remains consistent during the handover; NutriFresh employees have acted as a liaison with former clients and their new co-packers, and Ironi noted the company has donated tanks and other efficiency and volume generating equipment to those manufacturers. He said the company delayed its original date to end production on Oct. 1 to allow clients more time to prepare for the transition.

Paul Baudier, managing director of East Coast Copacking, said around “ten to 15” brands were coming over from NutriFresh into the company’s Brooklyn facility, which offers cold pressing and cold storage but not HPP. He said the company is at around 65 percent of its total output capacity, including the new additions.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure [the new clients] are happy and that there’s been no drop off in consistency,” Baudier said of the transition. “Were they happy with the way things happened? Maybe not. Are they happy with what we are doing for them? Absolutely.”

Functional beverage company Dirty Lemon had been working with NutriFresh since 2016, or “basically the entire history of the company,” according to COO Adam Louras. In addition to Dirty Lemon moving the majority of production to its West Coast co-packing partner, he told BevNET the company has shifted its East Coast manufacturing to East Coast Copacking for two production runs so far, and that it is working with the Brooklyn facility to find solutions to some of its unique requirements. While the co-packer has the on-site cold storage and 28mm capper machine needed to make Dirty Lemon’s products, he said, batch volume has been an issue.

“If you don’t have a tank big enough for the entire production run, we have to break it down into smaller components,” Louras said. He noted the company is transporting product from East Coast Copacking back to NutriFresh for HPP, which “introduces chances for mistakes.”

He continued, “The product tastes exactly the same; it’s more of a logistical challenge. Our supply chain has to change to accommodate [the change]. It’s the beginning epicenter of a ripple effect of challenges.”

According to Ironi, all of the company’s former co-packing clients are still using its HPP services. Representatives for WTRMLN WTR and Tio Gazpacho, both of which were co-packing with NutriFresh, declined to comment for this story.

Meanwhile, at NutriFresh, Ironi said the company installed new picking lines and automated technology to its Edison facility. The company is also launching a same-day delivery service with coverage in New York’s five boroughs, to be followed by future expansion into “the majority of the East Coast’s major metropolitan areas.”

“NutriFresh personnel spent significant time and resources in the last couple of months assisting our partner facilities with training and equipment transfers to allow for the smoothest possible transition for our juice clients,” said NutriFresh COO Chris Jenkins, in the statement. “We understood that this process could be extremely disruptive to any brand and wanted to make sure we allow them the most painless transition possible.”