The wifi-enabled juicers – which allow consumers to select a refrigerated pack of finely chopped fresh organic fruits and veggies and ‘cold-press’ an 8oz cup of juice with zero mess – will be road-tested in 11 stores in southern California, with a flat price of $5 per juice, Dunn told FoodNavigator-USA.
"We think that the commercial channel – grocery retailers such as Whole Foods, to offices, foodservice, colleges, and hotels – is going to be a great way to introduce consumers to the Juicero concept. And as Whole Foods evolves its store formats to include more self-service opportunities, it feels like it could be a great platform for them too.
“We’ve created beautiful pre-fab juice bars that roll into the store so you can pay for your juice, select a package and serve yourself. But we’re also working with [the offices of concert producer] LiveNation, a bunch of hotel chains, and several colleges, so we are systematically getting into lots of different commercial locations.”
While shoppers could buy a bottle of HPP (high-pressure-processed) juice at the same Whole Foods store for $3.99, the Juicero product was superior, he claimed: “We know once people try it, they can taste the difference. You can also see the difference as you don't get that rapid separation and settling.
"While HPP products are better than thermally processed juices, we’re providing a very differentiated product experience. It’s offering the same convenience, but there’s really no comparison in terms of the taste, and the phyto and micronutrients in the product.
“It’s such a new business so we’re still learning about the potential for immediate consumption locations versus home locations [direct to consumer]," added Dunn.
The simpler and easier you make it for people to engage in healthy habits, the more likely they are to sustain them over time
He acknowledged that the original price point for the connected counter-top device had put the Juicero out of reach for many consumers, but said the new $399 ticket price had put it “in the game,” although it remained at the high-end of the spectrum of what people will pay for a kitchen appliance, however ground-breaking.
The ultimate aim, however, is for the machine to be accessible to as broad an audience as possible, added Dunn, who joined Juicero in late October 2016 from Campbell’s C-Fresh division.
Raw organic juice at the touch of a button
And there is no question that Juicero changes the game in terms of the juicing experience, he said: “The feedback on this is very consistent. The simpler and easier you make it for people to engage in healthy habits like making fresh juice, the more likely they are to sustain that behavior over time, and make it part of their daily routine, and Juicero makes it incredibly easy to make a product that is superior to even HPP juices in your home, without any mess or preparation time.
“But it’s also got to be affordable, so we expect over the next 24 months to launch a v2 that’s going to have a more attractive price point. It’s the razor blade model [you make money on the blades not the razor]. We don’t have to have a lot of margin on the machine, it’s really about our packs business.”
Each Juicero pack has a unique QR code that the Juicero Press reads, which enables users to see where the produce comes from, and ensures that users don't press a product that has passed its expiration date (in which case, the machine won't press it). Equally importantly, this feature also means that the juicer will not accept knock-off juice packs, and will only press packs created by Juicero.
I fully expect to have a $4 pack by the end of this year
The produce packs, which are currently delivered to Juicero customers’ homes, could also be made available in stores or via grocery delivery services such as FreshDirect as the business scales, he predicted. "As we build distribution density for our commercial business it will make it easier for us to offer other options for distribution for our home consumers."
Today, the price tag per produce pack is currently $5-7 depending on the juice, but prices would come down “across the board” as the business built scale, he predicted. “I fully expect us to have a $4 pack by the end of this year.”
Asked whether interest in 'juicing' is fading as consumers become more concerned about sugar, Dunn said Juicero had chosen more 'vegetable-forward' recipes that kept sugar levels down.
Right now, Juicero produce packs - which contain LDPE, LLDPE, and PET - are not compostable, but that's the long term goal, says CEO Jeff Dunn. "Because of the compostable fiber left in the pack [after the produce has been pressed], it intuitively makes sense that the pack should also be recyclable."
Today, consumers can remove the fibrous material left inside (which can be composted or added to recipes) and take the empty packs to recyclers that accept plastic bags and film packaging. Alternatively they can mail them back to Juicero, which sends them to Terracycle (which turn them into post-consumer materials).
We've shipped close to half a million packs
So how is Juicero - which is the brainchild of entrepreneur Doug Evans (who is now chairman) - doing?
"We soft launched about nine months ago in San Francisco and came into sourthern California about four or five months ago," said Dunn.
"And we're only in California, Arizona and Nevada today, so it's still very early days - like an advanced beta - and we're learning before we launch into other geographies, both from a commercial and a consumer standpoint.
"We'll launch our first campaign in Los Angeles in about a month and so we really want to make sure that as we expand this platform we are creating the best possible customer experience, so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves and talk about national distribution.
"But we've shipped close to half a million packs, so we're really starting to get the numbers now where we can project much better what it's going to look like at larger scale."
Watch the Juicero in action: