The latest generation of cold pressed, HPP (high pressure processed) 100% juices represent a definite step up from the heat-treated juices most Americans grew up drinking, says VP Marketing Rani Quirk, but they still only contain part of the fruit, as the fiber is left behind in the pressing process.
By contrast, Harvest Soul’s blended drinks – which also use HPP and have a 75-day shelf life - retain the fiber in whole fruit, and don’t provide such a sugar rush, she told FoodNavigator-USA. “Although some juice brands look healthy and ‘green,’ they really aren’t! 40 grams of sugar, 0 fiber in a green juice? No thanks!”
The formulations vary, with a 12oz bottle of Harvest Soul containing 100-150 calories, and 13-23g sugar, but a consistently high level of fiber (5-7g), said Quirk: “Because we blend, and don’t press, whole foods, every bottle is high in fiber, reaching up to 25% of the recommended daily allowance.”
As a result, they have a denser texture that’s “super satisfying and delicious as a snack, meal or drink,” she added. “Our juices all start with a vegetable first, and each bottle has over three servings of organic fruits and vegetables.”
I don’t think people realize there’s no fiber in most green juices
But do consumers – and retail buyers – ‘get’ the Harvest Soul difference, and what’s the best way to tell the Atlanta-based company’s story, or even describe the product? Is it a juice? Is it a smoothie? Is it the same as drinkable soup? And do consumers care about all that fiber, given the current obsession with protein (which most Americans are not short of)?
“I think a lot of people just don’t realize that there’s no fiber – or very little fiber - in most green juices [Suja’s Green Delight has 40g sugar and 1g fiber per 12oz, King of Greens has 21g sugar and 0g fiber, while its Green Supreme has 32g sugar and 0g fiber, and its Green Charge has 32g sugar and 2g fiber]," she said.
"But once you talk to them about what makes us different, the lightbulb goes off. It’s not just about the total sugar in our products versus theirs, it’s the carb/fiber ratio.
“We’re not low sugar, although we have less than many juices, but we have that more optimal carb/fiber ratio. It’s like eating an apple versus drinking apple juice.
“But we have had to do a better job of telling the story, so we've revamped our packaging and really emphasized the blended whole food story and the fiber story. If you look at the trends, we’re only becoming more relevant, because people are really paying attention to sugar now, especially when it comes with no fiber. Retailers also get it, and they also want more variety in their juice sets.”
Harvest Soul products - which debuted at Expo West in 2015 - are currently available in around 250 stores from Sprouts to Safeway and Albertson’s in the Rocky Mountain region, where they are stocked in front-of-store coolers looking to target Millennial shoppers seeking grab & go items.
As for terminology, said Quirk, “When we do demos, we sometimes say, it’s sort of like a smoothie, but you have to be careful because smoothies often contain milk or yogurt, or plant-based milks, so we don’t want to confuse people.”
As for merchandising, Harvest Soul has been positioned next to juices and next to drinkable soups, although the former generally works the best, she said:
“I don’t think we’ve cracked the code yet when it comes to positioning, although it probably works better next to juices and other healthy beverages because with the drinkable soups, there are fewer usage occasions, and they don’t necessarily have the turns that juice does, and at the end of the day, our product is a beverage, just a very satisfying one. And while we start with veggies first, they are not savory [like drinkable soup].”
The 12oz bottles typically retail at $3.99, which is comparable with Suja 12oz bottles, she said. “It’s not going to work for every consumer, but it’s a high-quality product.”
The manufacturing set up
From a manufacturing standpoint, Harvest Soul is unusual in that it manufactures its own product at a brand new 30,000sq ft facility where it has also started doing co-packing for other companies, and has blending and pressing facilities, she said. “None are direct competitors to us.”
The facility where the products go through the HPP process is 20 minutes away, she added.
To date the company has raised more than $2m through debt and equity and has just opened a $7m capital raise, which will also be a combination of debt and equity, said Quirk, who is predicting revenues of around $750,000 in 2017, but expects a sharp ramp up thereafter as more co-packing deals come in.
Harvest Soul was a runner-up in this year’s FOOD VISION USA trailblazers challenge, which was won by Hargol FoodTech, The Chaat Company and Funny Farm (Epic Source Food Company), who will be presenting live on stage on November 13 in Chicago.