Entering its eighth decade in business, Portuguese juice company SoNatural is available in more than two dozen countries around the world: and now the United States is finally one of them.
The high pressure processed (HPP) juice maker this month announced the opening of a 30,000 sq ft. production facility in the Malvern, Penn. where the company will manufacture its juice products. Speaking with Beverage Industry today, SoNatural sales director Andy Cook said the company’s strict production model — where all juice is pressed and HPP’d within 24 hours at 30 degrees fahrenheit — led it to seek out its new facility, which will handle all U.S. distribution when it goes online at February 1.
“The way our process is, the way that we do things, and the way that we’ll mirror those here in the United States we think really sets us aside [from other juice brands],” Cook told Beverage Industry in a phone call. “The way we’ve been able to integrate those, we’re able to offer a product to the consumers at a quality level, with a no-nonsense clean label that everybody wants, at a price to the consumer that is significantly lower than what you’re seeing on the market right now.”
According to Cook, SoNatural also operates a robust food service business in Europe, but the brand is looking to “get off the ground” in the U.S. via its juice portfolio. The line includes avocado juice with apple and pear; beet juice with apple; carrot and ginger; ginger and apple juice with basil; mango juice with apple and banana; and apple and lemon juice with mint. Each product contains less than 70 calories per 13.52 oz bottle and will retail for $3.99. The company is also producing a line of functional HPP juice shots, including Purifying Charcoal, Turmeric & Cayenne, and Ginger varieties. The shots retail for $2.99 per 3.7 oz bottle.
“As time goes on and we start to increase our footprint and we see more opportunities with retailers and get our chance to pipe our flag in the market we’ll look to expand and mirror things more to what we have in Portugal,” Cook said.
The brand’s products are currently sold in select Fresh Market and Publix stores, but SoNatural has signed several partnerships with retailers for launch in January and February, including chainwide expansions into H-E-B and Central Market, Lidl, Meijer, and Stop & Shop. The company is currently in about 275 Publix stores, Cook said.
Beyond retail, SoNatural is also partnering with food service providers, Cook said. The company is looking to target college campuses, offices, and hotels alongside retail expansion.
Although Cook said the company is aware some consumers may be shifting away from cold-pressed juice due to sugar content, SoNatural believes it is poised to make an impact in the U.S. market with a more controlled product formulation and lower price point. As well, Cook noted the company’s shots line has been a fast mover since launch, in line with overall growing demand for juice shots.
“Our shot is more for everybody as opposed to the Whole Foods, super health conscious,” Cook said. “I don’t want to plug my nose and shoot back a super-concentrated knock-me-on-my-butt shot that I don’t really enjoy, but that I do for the health purposes. We want our customers to enjoy it and get the health benefits. It’s the best of both worlds.”
But as SoNatural plants its roots in the U.S., juice will only be one part of the final vision for the U.S. market. According to Cook, there are plans for drinkable soups, non-dairy fruit and vegetable smoothie bowls, and drinking vinegars.
“As we grow, get the facility up and running, and get the staff that we need here we’ll start to offer some really exciting things,” he said.