Business

Starbucks buys into organic-juice market

Friday, November 11, 2011

Starbucks bought San Bernardino-based Evolution Fresh for $30 million on Thursday, making its way into a new arena of organic juices.

Evolution Fresh already has a niche in the health food industry. The company's products are currently sold at Clark's Nutrition and Natural Foods Markets and grocery chains on the West Coast.

Evolution is one of the few larger juice companies that still cracks, peels, presses and squeezes its own fruits and vegetables rather than using pureed or powdered ingredients. It also uses a process called high-pressure pasteurization to make the juice without heating it. Starbucks sees these methods as a competitive edge over juice makers such as Odwalla or Naked juice, which it currently carries in its stores, as it allows the juice maker it to keep a higher nutritional quality in the juice while maintaining the taste.

Starbucks did not disclose how many of stores the new chain carrying Evolution products will have or where the locations would be. But the company said the chain will launch on the West Coast and be roughly the size of a traditional Starbucks cafDe. Starbucks also plans to upgrade some of its existing stores to make room for the Evolution products and distribute Evolution's products to other retailers.

Starbucks customer Julie Swafford of Colton likes the idea of having another option.

"Why not? We just got back from England and most places do sandwiches and fruit and all sorts of things and coffee, so it's the next natural progression for Starbucks," said Swafford.

On the other hand, customer Melissa Martinez of San Bernardino said she likes her coffee hangout just the way it is and doesn't want it watered down.

"They'll be all over the place and won't focus on what they do best already. I think they should just stick to coffee, you know, stay true their name," she said.

By entering into the juice bar market place, it will add a bit of competition to chains like Jamba Juice, which is known for its own variety of fruit and veggie drink offerings.

Starbucks plans to take the Evolution Fresh brand nationally next year when it begins offering the bottled juices in its retail stores.

Thomas Nunez of San Bernardino thinks Starbucks' latest venture will be a success.

"People are into health and good tasting coffee, good natural juices. I think that will be a hit," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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