Evolution Fresh Stays True to its Name
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods catches up with Evolution Fresh, our 2015 Refrigerated Foods Processor of the Year.
Evolution Fresh can trace its roots to the beaches of Santa Monica, California, when founder Jimmy Rosenberg was squeezing fresh juice for beachgoers in the early 1980s. He called his creations Naked Juice, which were so popular, they were subsequently sold in L.A. grocery stores. Business continued to grow to the point where Rosenberg eventually sold Naked Juice, but he jumped back into the industry in 1993, founding Evolution Fresh.
Starbucks bought Evolution Fresh in 2011, and since then, the brand has continued to redefine the super-premium cold-pressed juice category, while adding new beverages like kombucha, probiotic smoothies, and more. Their foundational business remains cold-pressed juice, much of it organic and sourced within 400 miles of their juicery in Rancho Cucamonga, California. They’re also pioneers of high-pressure processing (HPP) in the juice industry, which their products have used from the start.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods named Evolution Fresh its 2015 Refrigerated Foods Processor of the Year due to their HPP initiatives, commitment to cold-chain logistics and technology, and their success in retail markets. Thanks to the resources of Starbucks, Evolution Fresh was available in 7,200 Starbucks company-operated locations, and grocery retailers in all 50 states in 2015. Today, Evolution Fresh distributes juices that are cold-pressed using HPP to 8,400 company-operated Starbucks stores and more than 1,100 licensed stores nationwide.
“As consumer interest in functional beverages continues to grow, we continue to explore ways cold-pressed juices and functional beverages intersect,” says Michelle Chin, general manager of Evolution Fresh. “As a result, we expanded our super-premium organic cold-pressed juice portfolio. In 2019, we entered the $54 million plant-water category with Organic Celery Glow, a new customer favorite, joining our organic cold-pressed line, which also includes flavors like Organic Sweet Burn, Organic Greens & Ginger, Organic Defense Up and Organic Orange.”
The introduction of new products combined with speed to market has been a major focus for Evolution Fresh since 2015. “We’re always innovating and looking to craft new, exciting ready-to-drink beverages for our customers. We come together as a team to brainstorm, assess customer feedback, ideate around new and emerging ingredients we want to explore and ways we can transition our big ideas into new beverages. We also have the ability to be agile and move quickly. Organic Celery Glow is a great example of how we were able to craft a beverage and bring it to market nationally in less than 90 days,” Chin says.
“We’re highly conscientious of maintaining a sustainable production process, from using fuel cells to offset energy consumption to having the juicery intentionally located near the farmers providing our produce,” says Evolution Fresh’s Michelle Chin.
Efforts to Educate
HPP has grown significantly as an application for food manufacturers since our 2015 cover story, but outside the industry, Evolution Fresh is taking proactive steps to educate consumers about the benefits of HPP, through labeling modifications on its bottles.
“Evolution Fresh helped found the Cold Pressure Council to spread awareness of why HPP is important to food safety, quality and clean label products,” Chin explains. “Many of our beverages now list the ingredients on the front of the bottle, so customers can easily see the real quality ingredients in each juice. As a part of this new look, customers will see the Cold Pressure Council’s first-ever High Pressure Certified (HPC) Seal on all Evolution Fresh bottles. This seal provides confirmation that our products are made following industry best practices and have been verified by an independent third party to assure the safety and quality of our juice.”
The Cold Pressure Council’s first-ever High Pressure Certified (HPC) Seal is featured on all Evolution Fresh bottles.
Back at Evolution Fresh’s 265,000-square-foot juicery in Rancho Cucamonga—which was new at the time of our 2015 cover story—HPP technology is augmented by “automatic detection systems to ensure the safety and quality of our products, and state-of-the-art MES (manufacturing execution system) with automatic mix-proof valving to blend and clean our processing systems. Our products are Cold Pressure Certified, and we’re highly conscientious of maintaining a sustainable production process, from using fuel cells to offset energy consumption to having the juicery intentionally located near the farmers providing our produce,” notes Chin.
Evolution Fresh has stayed true to its name since our 2015 cover story, with continuous innovation and new product development, while utilizing regional ingredients and HPP to maintain freshness from farm to bottle.
To see the original 2015 Evolution Fresh Refrigerated Foods Processor of the Year cover story and plant tour, visit here.