Up Close With... Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Co.
The juice aisle is ripe with products that are described as wholesome, pure and fresh. Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. prefers to describe its citrus juices as transparent, says Marygrace Sexton, chief executive officer for the Fort Pierce, Fla.-based company. Transparency reflects Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice’s commitment to providing consumers with fresh squeezed, gourmet pasteurized and fresh frozen citrus juices and blends made from the fruit that’s listed on the label.
“It’s the most transparent juice there is,” Sexton says. “All it is, is an orange squeezed and put into a container and shipped to the customer. There’s nothing added. It’s just fresh juice.”
Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice is committed to providing “the highest quality juice in the world,” Sexton says. The company offers its 17-day shelf life Fresh Squeezed Orange and Grapefruit juices as well as Gourmet Pasteurized varieties of citrus juices from Chicago eastward, Sexton says.
The Gourmet Pasteurized line has a 26-day shelf life and includes Orange, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Lemon and Lime juices as well as Natural Lemonade and Pink Lemonade. Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice’s Gourmet Pasteurized 100 Percent All Florida Orange Juice has won taste tests by the “Today Show,” Cook’s Illustrated, Real Simple and Good Housekeeping magazines. The orange juice has been heralded as having the closest to fresh squeezed taste, which due to the company’s process, Sexton says.
“Our gourmet pasteurized juice is very different than the conventional pasteurized juice,” she explains. “The orange is squeezed just like the fresh squeezed orange juice and then very quickly and at a very low temperature, it’s pasteurized. Then it’s packaged and it’s shipped. So it’s treated and made just like the fresh squeezed. In fact, our gourmet pasteurized juice is so lightly pasteurized that our enzymes are still alive.”
The company also offers Natalie’s and Just Pik’t frozen fresh squeezed juices that are distributed in the United States and in countries such as Japan, Belgium and France.
Branching into blends
In addition to its single fruit juices, this summer the company created a line of Hand Crafted Seasonal Blends in Blackberry Limeade, Orange Raspberry and Orange Mango Peach varieties. For autumn and winter, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice introduced Pineapple Ginger Orange, Sweet Florida Grapefruit with Honey and Cranberry Orange juices.
Pineapple Ginger Orange is made with fresh puree of American ginger that is suitable for drinking and for use in cooking, says Lisa Rymer, marketing director for Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice.
Made with honey sourced near the company’s headquarters, the Sweet Florida Grapefruit with Honey seasonal blend was inspired by Sexton’s husband, who thought the blend would be beneficial during flu season, Rymer says.
“The grapefruit has so much vitamin C and then the honey for the sore throat, what a wonderful combination,” she says. “Also, some people don’t like grapefruit juice because of its tartness, so there’s something that’s appealing about that Sweet Florida Grapefruit with Honey.”
The Cranberry Orange variety was inspired by a visitor to the company’s booth at the NASFT Fancy Food Show in June in New York, Sexton says. The visitor suggested combining cranberry puree with fresh squeezed orange juice. The orange juice would provide the necessary sweetness to counteract cranberry’s inherent tartness and align with the company’s transparency commitment, she says.
“On the Cranberry Orange, that’s all you’re going to get,” Sexton says. “In fact, we had to put ‘No Sugar Added’ on the outside because you know people are just going to assume there’s sugar. It’s cranberries and oranges; that’s it.”
To make its juices, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice buys only the highest quality fruit from Florida growers, which is important to the company, Rymer says.
“We support American jobs,” she says. “We only use American-made packaging with our products right down to the tape. We support the Florida farmer. With our blends, we try to support first and foremost American farmers.”
The fresh squeezed orange juice’s label design remains the same as when the company started 21 years ago. The label features an illustration of the company’s namesake, Sexton’s daughter Natalie, with an orchid and hunter green color scheme, which were chosen to differentiate the brand in the juice aisle, Sexton says.
Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice’s commitment to quality also includes its stringent production standards. In 1999, the company was the first and only fresh squeezed juice pilot plant for the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). It continues to work with the FDA on juice Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points as well as with the Florida Department of Agriculture, which inspects the fruit, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects the final product. The company also received Safe Quality Food status from the Global Food Safety Initiative for its juices.
Going forward, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice is eyeing growth in the U.S. market and abroad. The company now maintains an in-house international sales staff and this year Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice placed its own inventory overseas for the first time, Sexton says. BI