Scott Schuette Reveals Fresh-Squeezed Juice Investments for Fresh Thyme Market
- by Jordan Okumura
DOWNERS GROVE, IL - This past year has presented a dynamic fresh produce market as consumers have leaned even more into healthy eating and drilling down what goes into their daily diets. Some categories have seen an enormous boost, which has motivated many retailers to pivot their investments. As is the case with Fresh Thyme Market, which has seen sales rise across a surprising candidate: fresh-squeezed juices.
Scott “Shooty” Schuette, the specialty retailer’s Vice President of Produce and Floral, joins me to discuss a look back at the year in sales, supply, and demand and what is next for Fresh Thyme Market.
“Since March, all fresh produce sales have shown a significant double-digit increase. Certain categories over-performed during the early ‘pantry loading’ phases of COVID-19 like bagged potatoes, onions, and carrots,” Scott shares with me. “But, three months into the pandemic, new category leaders began to emerge with even higher sales increases. Both packaged salads and fresh-squeezed juices began a swift uptick in sales over the summer and have not slowed down.”
And that growth has not been subtle, with a sales increase of 20 percent or more in the fresh-squeezed juice category. This success has made the timing perfect for Fresh Thyme to re-invest into a category that will continue to pay it back many dividends.
“The biggest opportunity for increasing fresh-squeezed juice sales is during the ‘healthy living and healthy eating’ time frame of January through April. We are anxiously preparing for the prime time, fresh juice season!” Scott reveals.
Currently, the company has over thirty fresh-squeezed SKUs in the department. This includes three sizes of juice bottles for many flavors: 16 oz, 32 oz, and 64 oz. Fresh Thyme’s first step in expanding the program is to have a local third party production facility “cold press” a number of these SKUs for the retailer.
As Scott adds, this will allow some labor relief at the store level while giving the Fresh Thyme team the ability to better serve each and every customer. On top of an already progressive plan to expand the fresh juice category, Fresh Thyme is taking its strategy one step further by ramping up with a wider selection of certified organic juices as well.
“We currently use organic carrots as the primary source for fresh-squeezed carrot juice, but would like to expand our options into many other organic ingredients,” Scott says.
The newly expanded organic juices will mimic many of the company’s current conventional juice recipes, such as the very popular Green Thyme, Red Thyme, and Orange Thyme.
- Green Thyme – Green kale, spinach, Italian parsley, cucumbers, Granny Smith apples, and lemon
- Orange Thyme – Italian parsley, Granny Smith apples, lemons, oranges, and carrots
- Red Thyme – Beets, Granny Smith apples, celery, Italian parsley, spinach, cucumbers, limes, and ginger root
With so much to celebrate in the present and on the horizon, how are suppliers helping to elevate this burgeoning fresh-squeezed juice category? Stay tuned as we bring you more from Scott “Shooty” Schuette himself in our follow up piece.