Health-conscious Consumers Revving up Blenders and Juicer Sales

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Everyone loves smoothies and fresh juices, so it comes as no surprise that a growing number of operators are investing in blenders and juicers.

Whether visiting a bar, restaurant, juice or breakfast haunt, the quest for healthy drink options is ongoing. That’s why Jessica Risi opened Raw Chemist Juice Bar in Toronto in July 2014. “The goal was to provide really nutritious options for smoothies and cold-pressed juices,” she says.

Given the growing demand for fresh smoothie options, she invested in one of the most powerful industrial-grade blenders that fit her budget. She looked at the Cleveland-based Vitamix and Orem, Utah-based Blendtec. Ultimately, she purchased two Blendtec Stealth blenders for $1,200 and $1,400. The price includes a cover to block the noise. Risi also chose an optional accessory called the Rapid Rinse Station, a small countertop system, which feeds hot water into empty jars for quick cleaning at the touch of
a button.

Choosing a juicer, on the other hand, involved a lot of research. That said, from the onset, Risi wanted a cold-press juicer rather than the more conventional and lower cost centrifugal juicer. Centrifugal juicers feed produce through fast-moving blades. While it is faster, the blades generate heat that can deplete nutrients. “That’s fine if you want to consume the product within 30 minutes. [But] a cold-press juicer doesn’t have blades and won’t produce heat, so the vitamins and enzymes last 72 hours,” Risi explains. Her first purchase was three countertop Angel juicers from South Korea, which ranged in price from $1,250 to $1,750. The most expensive one is made of certified surgical stainless steel and has reverse blade functions.

However, demand was so high for her bottled juices that Risi invested in a new Goodnature X-1 commercial cold-press juicer sold out of Buffalo, N.Y.; it’s a six-foot free-standing system, which costs $25,000. She plans to expand production to supply local gyms and other establishments. “Out of all the cold presses, it’s really durable and gentle and produces juice with a very vibrant colour,” Risi says.

But blenders aren’t just for specialty shops. Martin Proulx, director R&D and purchasing director of the Cora Franchise Group Inc. in Ste-Thérèse, Que., says blenders are a mainstay in its 131 franchise locations across the country for meeting the daily need for fruit cocktails and smoothies.

Cora’s fruit cocktails have been favoured for more than 25 years, and basic blenders used to be enough to get the job done, but that changed when smoothies began to gain popularity, circa 2006. “We went through all kinds of blenders and breakage when we started with smoothies,” Proulx confesses. “We had so much difficulty, because you use frozen fruit, and the motors were burning out.”

These days, he sources his blenders from Rougemont, Que.-based A. Lassonde Inc., the company that supplies Cora with its fruit and vegetable juices. Lassonde is currently supplying commercial-grade MX1100XTXP blenders from Torrington, Conn.’s Waring (one base and three jugs per franchise outlet). And, since the blenders are at the front of the kitchen, covers — which are included in the $1,000 price tag — are used to muffle the noise. The blending needs at Cora are simple. “We have two settings: one for smoothies, one for cocktails and that’s it,” Proulx says.

Lauren Mote, bar manager for Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar and co-proprietor of Bittered Sling Extracts in Vancouver, is always on the lookout for new blender technology. These days she has two Vitamix Vita-Prep blenders, which cost $2,200 apiece, for her commercial kitchen. “The Vita-Prep is great for fine-blending specific things like rim salt or cinnamon bark, or [for] pulverizing the crap out of fibrous ingredients, like celery, without the fibres getting wrapped around the blades. I’ve had them for six years, and they’re still going,” she says. She’s also a fan of Melbourne, Australia-based Breville blenders, immersion blenders and juicers. “The customer service is great, and they are very high-quality products,” adds Mote.

When it comes to juicers, she suggests looking for something that’s “crazy durable,” especially if it’s being used daily. She cautions that the heat and friction can change the flavour of the final product, which is why they work best for citrus fruits.

One of Mote’s favourite juicers is the Juicepresso from Memphis, Tenn. It’s a compact, slow, cold-press machine, which costs between $300 and $400. “I use it to make our fresh syrups. The yield is a bit lower, but you can take the pulp and run it through up to three times, dehydrate it and eat it or use it in soups or smoothies. It’s all about recycling,” she says.

Another popular item in Mote’s kitchen is the Thermomix from Wuppertal, Germany-based Vorwerk, which costs approximately $2,000. And, since it has a temperature gauge, it can be used for everything from ice cream to soup. “We like to call it the super kitchen machine,” she says.
Regardless of whether your blending and juicing volumes are high or low, there is one constant in making the right purchasing decision. “The main thing is finding something that will last for the long haul and stand the test of time,” Mote advises.

Written By: Denise Deveau

Issue 48, Number 5

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