“The number one focus right now” of many consumers, retailers and manufacturers “is sugar content and whether or not the sugar is added or naturally derived,” company co-founder Ann Yang said during FoodNavigator-USA’s recent Beverage Entrepreneurs to Watch Forum, which is now available for free on demand.
She added “the fact that people are anti-sugar is definitely something that, on an anecdotal level, we hear all the time from consumers and customers on the retail and individual basis.”
The first way the young company addresses these concerns is directly by “being very transparent about what is in our bottle,” which is just fruit, vegetables and water, and no added sugar, Yang said, noting that the brand tries to educate consumers on the difference between naturally occurring and added sugars.
The company also highlights how its juice has about one-third of the total sugar of many competitors and a fraction of the calories at just 80 calories per bottle.
“A lot of products will have between 35 to 50 grams of sugar per bottle, which is insane. It is in line with a lot of soft drinks, whereas our line has between 10 and 15 grams and none of it is added sugar,” she said. She added that many competitors also “clock in at over 200” calories per bottle.
The company also educates consumers that not all juices are the same, and that those, like Misfit Juicery’s line, made from high pressure pasteurization have a high nutritional concentration.
“We chose HPP because we felt like it was the most nutrient dense way to produce our juice … because it never goes through heat, so a lot of the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables are maintained, while also extending the shelf life and killing some of the harmful microbes that could be a safety concern,” she said.
But, Yang notes Misfit Juicery’s “primary messaging isn’t about health – it is about aspirational brand identity, being a misfit and the sustainable aspects of” how the company sources its ingredients, which brings the company to the second prong in its defense against the current anti-sugar movement.
Turning trash to treasure
Yang explains that Misfit Juicery’s main message to consumers is that by buying its juice they can help combat food waste, which is a “dire problem” in the US, especially for small and medium-sized producers.
She said that about 20 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables in the US go unharvested each year because they are the wrong size, shape or color to be sold at retail – a situation that results in an “extraordinary environmental impact.”
In particular, Yang said, every year in the US food waste costs $218 billion, fills 21% of landfills and contributes to the lost productivity of 18% of land and 25% of freshwater.
“We realized that there was all this produce that was perfectly legit, perfectly edible, that was being graded out. … So, we wanted to create a value chain and a really well made product,” she said. “Our mission, operationally, is to purchase fruits and vegetables from farms and producers at a fair price that is giving them additional revenue and then market a brand that talks about food systems and sustainability in an interesting way.”
More recently, Yang added, Misfit Juicery expanded its supply chain to include fresh cut scraps from retailers offering value added produce, such as pre-cut fruit, carrot and celery sticks or salads made in house.
The company currently has an agreement with Baldor to source 150 pounds of these scraps per week from the roughly 7,000 pounds the retailer generates weekly.
By focusing on this feel-good mission, Misfit Juicery is giving consumers who are worried about sugar another reason to continue to drink juice.
Beyond juice, Misfit Juicery also sees potential to expand into Misfit Foods by making juice pulp bars, soups and other plant-based proteins – a move that not only would diversify the young company’s portfolio but also would help shelter it from the volatility created by the anti-sugar movement.