Although many children avoid eating their vegetables, adults also are guilty of consuming fewer veggies than they should. The Dietary Guidelines for AmericansVeryBerry drinks fruit and vegetable recommend that adults consume more fruits and vegetables to develop healthier diets. It Tastes Raaw focuses on supporting these healthier lifestyles by offering 100 percent natural fruit-and-vegetable juice blends that deliver nutrition in a tasty, convenient format.

For example, when creating the first of the brand’s two wheatgrass juices, Paul Gregg used his own not-so-delicious experiences with the vegetable as inspiration. “My wife had given me wheatgrass for years and years, and I’d say, ‘Honey, what am I going to chase it down with?’” recounts the executive vice president of Raw Foods International LLC, the Miami-based parent company of it Tastes Raaw. The result was it Tastes Raaw Passion Fruit Wheatgrass, which balances 1.5 ounces of wheatgrass with the juice from two passion fruits, according to the company’s website.

“I’d like to say we make wheatgrass taste good,” Gregg says. “You’ll find that when you try [it Tastes Raaw juices], you get both [the fruit and vegetable flavors], and you’ll absolutely be able to identify both, but we’ve done it in a way that there’s a very clean aftertaste.”

After Passion Fruit Wheatgrass launched, it quickly became the brand’s top seller and inspired the company to later create a Very Berry Wheatgrass juice as well.

Whenever the brand creates a new flavor, it places special emphasis on taste, Gregg says. “All of the new juices have been developed by [President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Decker] and myself, and we literally go into his kitchen, we bring a big bucket of fruits and a big bucket of vegetables, and we mix and match what we think would be great-tasting flavors,” he explains. However, great taste is not always good enough, he notes. “Any juices that we introduce have to be as good as or better than our current best seller,” he says.

Operating on this research and development model, the brand has expanded from its original four flavors — Pineapple Cucumber, Better Beets, Cranberry Ginger and Carrot Lemonade — to nine total juices, including Passion Fruit Wheatgrass, Raspberry Lemongrass, Very Berry Wheatgrass, Strawberry Purple Carrot and Mango Guarana. Although Passion Fruit Wheatgrass is still one of the top varieties, two of the brand’s newest releases, Strawberry Purple Carrot and Mango Guarana, round out the brand’s Top 3 best-selling flavors. All of the juices are flash-pasteurized, Non-GMO Project Verified, preservative free, certified kosher, vegan and gluten free and do not contain artificial flavors, artificial colors, added sugar or added water, Gregg says. The company also plans to launch two or three more flavors before the end of the year, he notes.

Beyond a flavorful product, it Tastes Raaw works to deliver consumers “Refreshment anytime, anywhere,” as the acronym in the brand’s name suggests, Gregg says. “Research is starting to say that we’re a snacking society, … [so] if you’re looking to snack between meals, it’s a wonderful way to do just that, and we’re finding people are consuming [it Tastes Raaw juices] certainly in the morning but also throughout the day and into the evening,” he says.

Besides nutritional value, the juices offer some functional benefits that can come in handy at different times of the day, he notes. For example, the Mango Guarana juice offers an energy boost from guarana, which is a natural energy source, he says.

Part of the anytime, anywhere aspect of the brand comes from its widespread availability. Through its broadline distribution model, the company is available in grocery and natural foods stores in all 50 states plus the Caribbean and parts of Mexico, South America and the Middle East. The brand also launched in Canada in April, Gregg notes.

Another part of this aspect centers on the brand’s portable packaging size. When the brand first launched in November 2009, the juices were packaged in 16-ounce bottles. However, consumer research later revealed that consumers wanted a smaller package size they could use for grab-and-go occasions, Gregg explains. As a result, the company launched a 12-ounce bottle. The smaller packaging size also enabled the brand to lower its price point to $2.99, Gregg notes.

The trifecta of size, price and taste has helped the brand continue to grow. “Year-over-year, we have at least tripled our revenue, and this year we’ll probably more than quadruple our revenue,” Gregg says. In addition to new flavors for this year, the company is looking to enhance it Tastes Raaw with line extensions next year to add more to the growth trend, he says.

 “We’ve got all sorts of stuff on the research and development side, and we’re very excited,” Gregg says. “It’s the right time, it’s the right product, [and] it’s a great-tasting product. Because we are produce in a bottle, [the brand is] clearly heading in the right direction and [embodies] what the fresh category is all about.”

Giving back

Looking past Miami-based Raw Foods International LLC’s it Tastes Raaw juice lineup, the brand is committed to forming deeper connections with its consumers and their communities through service events. “Life is a service, and the sooner you learn that, the better your life is going to be, and [that]’s a philosophy that we’ve tried to permeate into everything we’ve done,” says Paul Gregg, executive vice president of the Miami-based company. As the brand team travels to different events across the country, it also seeks out new opportunities to contribute to local communities.

For example, the company donates leftover product from tradeshows and other promotional events to local food pantries and soup kitchens as well as organizations that help feed the homeless and less fortunate nationwide, according to the company’s website. Most recently, at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif., in March, the company highlighted its partnership with Feed the Children, an international charity that provides hope and resources to children in the United States and 23 other countries who do not have access to living essentials. Through this partnership, Raw Foods International donates products to assist kids in achieving better nutrition. In other cases, the brand team will participate in beach clean-ups and other activities to give back to the communities they visit, Gregg says.

Raw Foods International also works to give back to the global environment by reducing its environmental footprint. When the brand team travels to tradeshows and promotional events, it reuses its show supplies and displays to reduce waste and locally rents items that the team cannot travel with for a more energy-efficient method of setting up company displays, according to its website.

The company also encourages its consumers to give back to the environment through it Tastes Raaw’s cap buyback program. “Most caps in the industry are not strongly recyclable — they’re actually [polypropylene] No. 5, so they need a special form of recycling,” Gregg explains. “So we have a program where, if people send us some of their caps, we’ll [give] them some free product.” For every 10 caps mailed to the company’s “Giving Back” caps program, the company will send the consumer a coupon for a free bottle of it Tastes Raaw, according to the company’s website. 

Giving back whenever possible also will be an integral part of the brand’s business promotional plan going forward, Gregg notes.  “Instead of just going broad this year in terms of distribution and in terms of additional sales, we’re also trying to grow very, very deep into the stores and work directly with our [retail and distributor partners] and a number of consumer organizations to really grow very deep into their communities so that people are more aware of the brand and happy to pull it off the shelf.”