The company's products are heavily distributed through the East Coast of the US, but the West Coast remains a white space for the Florida juice company.
“It is our goal to build presence on the west coast. We think the consumers out there, not only do they deserve Natalie’s but demand it,” Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice director of marketing, Natalie Sexton, told BeverageDaily.
Founded in 1990
The juice company has been using Florida-grown citrus fruit since the company first started making its freshly-squeezed orange and grapefruit juices back in 1990.
“Twenty eight years ago the fresh juice market was essentially nonexistent because there wasn’t the infrastructure for it,” Sexton said.
When Sexton’s parents founded the company, the freshly-squeezed juice market was hyper local because refrigerated trucks were mainly reserved for transporting meat products.
“Back then the only competitor for truly fresh juice were the roadside stands or if you were squeezing it at home,” Sexton said.
Juice trends ‘come and go’
Today’s juice market has expanded significantly to capture trend-oriented consumers with products made through HPP (high pressure processing) and cold-pressed production processes. While Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice has felt the competition in the juice category, it has preserved a niche spot because of its simple, transparent ethos, Sexton said.
“Five years ago, our juice truly sold itself, but in the past three years these niche cold pressed juice brands have become our competition,” Sexton said. “Trends come and go. The new trend is HPP, but that doesn’t really mean it’s better; it’s still processed.
"...What we have done is produce juices as fresh as we can while still doing as minimal processing as possible.”
The company capitalizes on its Florida-sourced identity and minimal processing techniques including squeezing the fruit and pasteurizing it for three to six seconds at the lowest temperature allowed by the FDA resulting in a refrigerated shelf life of 12 to 14 days.
The company has been able to use this minimal processing method to expand distribution to 33 US states and 27 countries.
Aside from updated labeling, the packaging has not changed. Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice uses the same bottles and closure since its first day of production, Sexton said.
However, one current trend that aligns with the company is consumer demand for transparent ingredient sourcing.
“We capitalize on being from Florida,” she said.
However, Sexton said that sourcing its citrus fruit from Florida can result in steeper prices for the customer.
“Each year there is a potential for a price change,” she said. “Our orange juice is the highest priced orange juice on the shelf; no matter what we’re always going to be more expensive.”
Single flavor juice
While Natalie’s Orchid Island has extended its line of flavors to include blends such orange beet juice, Sexton believes there is a market opportunity for one-ingredient juices like its original products.
“There’s nothing wrong with making blended juices, but what happened to one-ingredient juices? Let the fruit or vegetable stand on its own,” she said.
The company is currently working on re-introducing consumers to its refrigerated tomato juice freshly made the same way as its other fruit juices. However, when the juice first launched it did not perform well, according to Sexton, because very few consumers had been exposed to a fresh tomato juice product that wasn’t shelf stable or mixed in a Bloody Mary cocktail.
“I think it would be really popular but consumers have never had a fresh tomato juice available,” she said.
“It would take millions of dollars to re-educate the consumer on what fresh tomato juice is.”