With more than 20 years as a beverage solutions provider, Fresh Blends expanded its footprint across multiple channels—retail, quick-service restaurants, hospitality hotels. Currently, its beverage units are featured in Wisconsin Kwik Trip stores, 7-Eleven in US and Australia, A&W in Canada and Circle K within US raceways.
Rains explained that while the company continues to address consumers’ demands for fresh, natural and convenient prepared beverages, it’s also focused on developing solutions to reduce waste and labor to create a more seamless experience for consumers and operators.
The all-in-one beverage unit creates blended and non-blended drink options including smoothies, lemonade, shakes and coffee drinks.
Each Fresh Blends unit makes up to 53 unique recipes from eight two-gallon bibs located at the base of the machine.
The bibs contain puree concentrates of blended and concentrated ingredients devoid of additives, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup, underscoring consumer demand for simplicity with natural snacks and beverages.
“When we say you’re getting strawberries, we want to make sure you get strawberries. We don’t want to add a bunch of ingredients you don’t need,” Rains explained.
Because the beverage is dispensed and blended in one location, users "don’t have to worry about prepping or cross contamination or waste…we definitely want to be cognizant of eliminating as much waste as possible,” Rains emphasized.
Rains added that the all-in-one format, including daily and weekly automated self-cleaning features, can help operators save $10,000 per store.
“When you think about a traditional smoothie, there are a lot of steps that go into it. If you’re just doing it in a normal blender, you must source all the ingredients, you have to prep it including cleaning, cutting, measuring and adding it into the blender, then transferring it into your actual serving cup … A lot of companies spend a lot of many in labor and ingredients to create one smoothie. From our end, we have essentially taken all of that out of the equation. We’re able to be a lot more consistent while offering better or same quality, without them doing any of those steps," he elaborated.
Using its cloud-based platform, Fresh Cloud, operators have access to an online dashboard to manage the equipment and request inventory restocks remotely.
Through Fresh Cloud, Fresh Blends leverages its customer data to create different marketing plans or campaigns for operators to “make sure they do different promos…to drive traffic into their location,” Rains said.
He added, “We’re trying to make sure our platform can be dynamic, meaning that the consumer always wants something new, fresh and fun. Our platform already offers that, but at the same time we’re able to solve for the labor issue as well. We’re able to be dynamic and change our recipes on a dime for these different applications…without being a burden to the operator."
With the rise of more electric vehicle charging stations at c-stores, consumers will have more time to explore different options in c-stores. Rains explained that the self-serve and self-pay components align with consumers’ interest in healthy and convenient snacks or meal replacements.
“So when people go in, they charge a car for 30 minutes, and there’s a new offering and a new look and feel so they get to have a new experience, but also they know that they’re going to get the best high quality drink out of that machine,” he said.