By Eric Peterson | Apr 14, 2014
Healthy Snack Food
Employees: about 8
Ian Lee founded Pressery with his wife, Mimi, one year ago and began selling juice at farmers' markets in Boulder and Denver in spring 2013.
"There was a convergence of trends," says Lee of the company's genesis, pointing to advances in juicing technology, health consciousness, and demand for convenience as catalysts for the company's launch.
"Instead of drinking coffee all day, what's really good is swapping juice in, and you get pounds of nutrients," he says. "The nutrient content is astronomical." Juice "bridges gaps between meals and can also be used as a meal replacement," he adds. "Fast food can be healthy."
As for the technology, Pressery uses high-pressure processing (HPP) instead of traditional thermal pasteurization; the hyperbaric pressure replaces heat to kill any potential pathogens and ensure food safety, allowing for retail distribution.
"We use pressure so we don't cook the product," Lee explains. Beyond safety, the process makes for a longer shelf life. "It helps manage the supply chain."
The company makes nine SKUs in all: five different cold-pressed juices, two nut milks (coffee cashew and almond cashew; Lee calls them "a healthy indulgence"), and two chia blends. "Chia seeds have more fiber than oatmeal, more calcium than milk, and more omega-3s than salmon," says Lee.
Of the juices, Pressery's Kale Pear is a top seller, as is Beet Carrot Apple. The common characteristics: all-organic and great flavor. "They're healthy, but they're also palatable,” says Lee. "They taste good."
This comes from the chef-driven recipes. Habanero Lemonade has hints of lime, orange, and maple, Apple Spinach also has lime, green grape, cucumber, collard greens, celery, and ginger, and Beet Carrot Apple has a pineapple-pepper kick. "That gives it a really unique flavor," says Lee. "Very few people who try it don't like it."
Pressery is taking a "multichannel approach," says Lee, with delivery of the "Pressery Reset," a multi-juice cleanse, and booths at seven to 12 farmers' markets and other events a month. As of late 2013, Pressery juices are also available at Whole Foods in Boulder and Denver, making Pressery the first Colorado cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juice on the stores' shelves, and a Pressery juice bar opened at the Source in Denver's RiNo neighborhood in March 2014.
The company is now targeting other retail locations as well as yoga studios and gyms. "It fits with the Paleo approach and it fits with the yoga mentality," says Lee.
Pressery has facilities in both Boulder and Denver. "It's an amazing food ecosystem...the Silicon Valley of food," says Lee of the metro area, which in turn makes for a deep talent pool, underpinning the success of Pressery. "Nothing really happens without an amazing group of people," he adds.
Lee says farmers' markets on the Front Range are a great incubator/proving ground/R&D lab for companies like Pressery. "We've sold tens of thousands of bottles” at farmers' markets, he says. "It's a great opportunity to engage personally with customers and potential customers...a great way to grow from the ground up."
It also gives consumers the chance to try something that they might otherwise not. "People don't usually drink cabbage...but when they taste it, they love it," says Lee.
Challenges: “Consistent & affordable locally sourcing. We source as much as possible in Colorado…but not everything is available year-round," he adds, acknowledging the need to look to more out-of-state producers to keep up with growth during winter months. "Dealing with the variation in the weather and the price of produce, that's something we're getting better at, but it's certainly a challenge."
Opportunities: Dynamic growth. "People want something organic and local," contends Lee. "The [cold-pressed juice] category is exploding. There's a huge opportunity if you can get it right."
Needs: "People, space, and capital would be the three things," says Lee. "It's about building the infrastructure to execute."