San Diego Company Makes Millions Off Juicing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    "Juicing," a produce-based liquid diet, is a nationwide phenomenon that is sometimes referred to as "cleansing." One of the market's top juicing companies is based in San Diego. NBC 7's Nicole Gomez speaks to a registered dietician about this health craze.

    Thanksgiving is here, and you’ll probably be loading your plate with enough food to keep you full for days.

    So on Friday, when you're still in a food coma, you may think about the growing trend of juicing.

    Some people call it cleansing or detoxing, but either way, it’s a nationwide phenomenon. In fact, one of the market's top juicing companies is based in San Diego.

    These companies that sell prepackaged bottles of organic juice, often for close to $10 per bottle.

    “There's 2-3 pounds of produce in each bottle. It's non-GMO verified. We have a very low carbon footprint. We try to source locally,” Suja co-founder Annie Lawless said.

    Suja, based in San Diego, launched in Sept. 2012. Before that, Lawless sold her concoctions to her yoga students in La Jolla.

    “We weren't looking to do a business like this at all. We were this little home delivery service, unofficially doing it out of our house,” she explained.

    In just 18 months, Suja says it's a $20 million revenue company.

    “Suja is the number one selling juice brand at Whole Foods, which a year ago, we weren't even on the map,” Suja CEO Jeff Church said.

    Suja, like other brands including BluePrint and Starbucks' Evolution, use cold press technology along with high-pressure processing to extend shelf life.

    That drives up costs. Suja's three day cleanse is about $200 with shipping to Southern California residents.

    Some dieticians say that's a high price to pay for something that isn't any better than eating whole produce.

    “A low-calorie liquid diet might give you kind of a quick fix,” Alia Altamimi, UCSD Medical Center Registered Dietician, said.

    Altamimi believes weight loss is possible on a cleanse, but the results are temporary. She also says that the sense of detox purity only lasts with a sustained healthy lifestyle.

    “Once you juice all these fruits and lose all these features and characteristics of fiber, I think you're losing,” Altamimi said.

    Health experts say the vegetable drinks can be good for you, but supplemental ingredients, like apples and pineapples, can add a lot of sugar.

    “Even though there's a lot of benefit to detoxing and cleansing, it isn't the magic bullet,” Kerry Tepedino, Holistic Health Practitioner, said.

    Suja plans to open up a Philadelphia plant next year to have better access to the East Coast market.

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