The Los Angeles-based company’s original, dairy-free coconut smoothie – which is made from coconut meat (straight from the coconut, not the pre-prepared stuff you get in cans with xanthan gum and water added) and coconut water (straight from the coconut) – has 240 calories per 12oz bottle, 6g protein, 4g fiber and 20% of the DV for vitamin C.
A refreshing – but satiating - alternative to coconut water or cold pressed juice, Genius juice smoothies first hit stores in 2014 in 16oz bottles ($8.99), with a smaller 8oz bottle ($5.49) quickly following, says co-founder and CEO Alex Bayer, who is just finalizing a fresh round of seed capital to help him grow the business.
However, moving to a 12oz bottle (as RAU has recently done for similar reasons) will allow for a price point of around $6.49.
This is still at the premium end of the market, but is not prohibitive for an organic product that can also serve as a meal replacement it is so filling, says Bayer.
We didn’t want to sell me-too products
He has also axed all of the Genius stock-keeping-units apart from the best-selling, flagship original coconut smoothie, and plans to launch two new products – a coffee coconut smoothie and a vanilla coconut smoothie with pea protein – in March and April respectively.
“It’s hard to do this [axe slower-selling product lines] but 80% of our sales were from the original smoothie, and some of the other products we had such as coconut water did not have a strong point of difference in the market and we didn’t want to sell me-too products.”
Bayer, who has secured listings for Genius Juice in around 200 natural food stores on the West Coast including Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, and Gelson’s Market, is also aiming to secure shelf space in conventional accounts, but recognizes this may require a tailored approach.
“We would like to come out with a second line that is more suitable for the conventional channel, which could be in a smaller bottle, and really compete with coconut waters like Harmless Harvest, to show how we are different because we use the whole coconut.”
HPP and coconuts…
Another recent change (prompted by the FDA’s recent probe into the use of high pressure processing on higher pH products such as coconut water) has been a switch to a new co-packer that uses a different technology to ensure product safety rather than HPP, revealed Bayer.
While HPP was something Genius Juice used to reference on pack via the term ‘cold pressured’, it was never key to the brand in the way that it was with Harmless Harvest, he claimed.
(Harmless Harvest – which stopped using the word ‘raw’ on its wares last year - has been engaged in an ongoing dialog with the FDA after receiving a warning letter from the agency outlining concerns about its protocols to tackle botulism. It has since promised “process enhancements” to satisfy the regulator.)