Newman's Own, Kettle Foods, and Naked Juice In Sync with Customers

Newman's Own Organics, Kettle Foods and Naked Juice are in sync with their customers in ways envied by mega competitors.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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"We feel it's important to help people cultivate values that are about integrity, respect, honesty and love," says Green. "We've found that the workplace is a great environment to demonstrate this."


Eastward ho!

To meet increasing demand, production at Kettle's flagship facility in Salem, Ore., is getting a boost next month from a $2 million investment in new fryers, expanding the plant's capacity by 30 percent. Production capacity has tripled since 1999, resulting in job growth of 112 percent. Kettle Foods currently employs 280 people at its Salem facility, compared to 132 in 1999.

Kettle Foods recently announced it would expand to meet demand on the East Coast by building a facility with 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space in Beloit, Wis. Critical to the company's decision is the fact that Beloit is centrally located in one of the strongest Russet Burbank potato growing regions in the Midwest. Ground breaking is slated in April, and when production begins toward the end of the year, the plant is expected to process 50 million lbs. of Russet potatoes a year, boosting overall company production by 50 percent.

We've experienced double-digit growth consistently over the past 10 years, fueled by the great taste of our Kettle brand Potato Chips," says Tim Fallon, president/GM North America. "Demand is particularly high in the East Coast where consumers still struggle to find our products on store shelves. Building a plant in Beloit allows us to keep pace with demand while reducing the environmental impact of fuel and distribution."

Not only will the plant's location help cut down on fuel use and cost, the new facility will be built to environmentally sensitive standards. Kettle Foods has been working with A. Epstein and Sons International of Chicago to evaluate suitable locations for the facility, as well as plan for its design, construction and sustainable business practices.


Naked Juice: Nothing to hide

Tropicana and Minute Maid may dominate the juice market, but Naked Juice Co., Azusa, Calif., is riding high on the growing superpremium juice segment of the $14 billion healthy and new age beverage category (ready-to-drink iced teas, sports drinks, bottled water, fresh and refrigerated superpremium juices). This category experienced an estimated 18 percent compound annual growth rate since 1991, nearly seven times that of the overall beverage industry. And the $640 million superpremium juice category grew 42 percent last year and is projected to hit $1.4 billion by 2008.

Prompted by both a revised food pyramid and waves of research calling for more fruit and vegetable consumption for disease prevention and overall health, interest in the superpremium juice category is soaring. Nutrition-savvy consumers are coveting pure, unadulterated (and sometimes exotic) juices, especially those believed to promote elasticity of the arteries, better blood flow and healthy cholesterol levels.

Company strategy is simple but effective. Naked Juice encourages consumers to get rid of their inhibitions and "Get Naked," albeit metaphorically, by consuming its all-natural, preservative-free ("naked") fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and superfoods drinks enhanced with protein, vitamins or herbs. According to Information Resources Inc. data, the company generates the highest amount of sales per store and enjoys the highest brand loyalty in the superpremium juice category.


Rising Stars: Naked Juice's Pomegranate Acai juice Naked Juice makes it easy for juice-lovers and juice newbies alike to pick among inventive flavors to match a spectrum of lifestyle needs. It divides its products into functional categories so consumers can easily choose the right drink for specific nutritional benefits.

More than two decades after its 1983 founding, Naked Juice is thriving as a national brand that delivers unique flavor combinations and highest quality. "Each 15.2-oz. bottle delivers on the ‘pound' promise, with a pound of bare-naked fruits, no added sugar and no preservatives," says Hicks. "That translates to more than two servings of fruit and vegetables per day."

How do they do it? "It isn't easy," says Hicks. "We take the best bare-naked fruits available and juice them to perfection. Plus, you'd be surprised how much juice you can fit into one 15.2-oz. bottle when we leave out all those fillers, water, sugar, artificial colors and flavors."

"Despite the overwhelming evidence that eating more fruit brings strong health benefits, families are busy and don't have time to clean and peel fruit before they run from one commitment to another," says director of marketing Kimber Ward. "Our products' grab-and-go convenience and innovative flavors allow the time-challenged to incorporate fruit into their daily diets, particularly during stressful times when tempted to grab an unhealthy snack."

A superpremium price

Available in the refrigerated section - think fruit in a bottle - Naked Juice is kept at temperatures below 38°F, and the suggested retail price for a 15.2-oz bottle is a pricey $3.

All of the ingredients are hand-inspected by the quality assurance team, who reject several trucks of fruit daily. Safety is equally important. "All our juices and smoothies are gently pasteurized [via flash pasteurization] to provide a great tasting product that doesn't compromise safety," explains Hicks. "They are heated quickly and brought back to a cold temperature in a flash, so the natural bacteria found in produce are destroyed while keeping nutritional benefits, aromas and original flavors intact."

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