JUICERS ENTER THE MAINSTREAM, THANKS TO EDUCATED SHOPPERS
NEW YORK-Juicing has moved beyond trend and made a place for itself in the mainstream market, despite the fact that many early joiners have since left the business. Those who remain say they are dealing with a more informed consumer today, one with a fairly lengthy list of expectations.
Simplicity has proven important to Oster consumers, who also “expect their juicers to last long, have the ability to almost duplicate the taste of juices purchased at Whole Foods or Jamba Juice, handle large quantities of fruits or vegetables without having to replace the basket and not make a mess,” said Lisa Pappas, global product manager at Oster.
This might sound like a tall order, but vendors maintain that the consumers here are generally out for specific results and, as Jamie Pascotti, chief executive officer of L’Equip, noted, the juicing consumer “becomes more and more educated every day.”
“The price points have really come down drastically,” Pascotti said. “If you look at the market, ’91 to ’92 was really the boom. Whoever made them then, they were sold as fast as you could make them.” He noted that much of the hype was thanks to the Juiceman infomercial craze, a point others raised as well.
“It was almost a fad,” Pascotti continued, “but it leveled out and became an actual category because it had merit in that it actually put live food into your body, and nothing else was doing that.”
Companies in the category today stressed the importance of durability and the necessity of stainless-steel, as opposed to plastic, mechanisms and strainers. Tim Fields, vice president of sales at Omega Products, said his company “uses as much stainless steel as possible in the juicing mechanism.”
Omega also manufactures its products in California, while many of its competitors’ products find their way here by way of the Far East, although L’Equip’s Pascotti said he is “not yet convinced” of China’s quality level and works instead with factories in South Korea.
“It costs a lot,” Fields said of his “Made in the USA” stance, “but it’s a family business and we’ve always done it this way.” Omega also keeps its blades and baskets as separate pieces, where many ejector models feature them as one unit. As separate pieces, though, if one piece ever needs to be replaced, there is no need to replace both. There has been expansion in the category with multifunctional machines that operate via slower motors and can not only grind down greens as fine as wheat grass, but can also do things like knead dough and make butter or pasta. Pascotti said similar machines were used first in South Korea, where they are used to extract juice from things such as pine needles. L’Equip’s Visor Wheatgrass Juicer has become a big hit for the European market, which Pascotti said might be in part due to smaller kitchens abroad and, therefore, less space for multiple appliances.
But here, the standard extractor still takes the lion’s share of the market and Fields said he doesn’t see that changing. “This would absolutely never replace the juice extractor because the American mentality has always been to want to have the best of each individual product.”
That said, Pappas contends that the juicing market in general shows great growth potential. “One of the fastest-growing trends in America is `prevention and wellness,’ ” she said. “At a time when America’s 80 million baby boomers are cruising into their golden years, nothing will be as important to them as their personal well-being and longevity.”
She added that juicing can also help in the country’s battle against the “growing obesity problem, which extends beyond adults down to the nation’s children. They are beginning to realize that juicing is the perfect way to fit the most vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants in their daily routine. And let’s face it, how many Americans get their recommended five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables today?”