When you operate in a highly competitive market, which is what the pressed organic juice industry has become, you better make sure that you differentiate yourself from the rest.
San Diego-based Solti has that box checked for sure, as it is one of the most innovative juice brands I have ever come across.
The first question that pressed juice companies ask themselves is whether they are going to do raw juice, which has a three-day shelf life, or have its juice undergo high-pressure processing (HPP), a process that kills harmful bacteria and allows it to last many weeks. This decision impacts the entire strategy of the business because it determines how quickly a company can grow and where it can be distributed.
Selling raw juice at third-party locations is either illegal in most states or forbidden by retailers. HPP juice, however, can be sold at third-party retailers but also requires the use of plastic bottles.
Solti founder Ryne O’Donnell refused to answer this typically binary question of raw or HPP juice.
Instead, his curiosity and ingenuity led him to a new solution.
“UV light filtration had been used in water and beer for a while. I thought if it is being used in these drinks, why couldn’t it be used in juice as well?”
So, after extensive research, he launched his pressed organic juice line in early 2015 using UV light filtration, and it has taken nearly two years and $1 million dollars to perfect.
“We have microbiologists come in all of the time. We have engineers come in all of the time. This is still a work in progress. However, we’ve done countless tests and the nutrient counts are incredible,” he said.
Ryne believes that UV light filtration offers a nutritionally superior product to HPP, yet the one indisputable difference between the two processes is that UV light filtration allows for the use of glass bottles, something of great importance to Solti.
The other thing that this technology allows for is for the juice to be packaged in any container, such as kegs and bulk tanks. Yes, kegs of pressed organic green juice!
And this led Solti to create its first tasting room in San Diego where consumers can come in, try all of the company’s juice on tap, and watch the entire production process behind a glass wall, similar to what you would experience at a brewery.
“Juice is very much of a closed-door operation and it is all done behind the scenes, whereas beer is very open. We wanted to connect the dots in terms of showing people where organic comes from, how gentle we are in the process, and how it is bottled in our facility. For us, it is all about transparency, and the tasting room is a way to show consumers how we make our product and to be very open about it,” acknowledged Ryne O’Donnell.
The eight-tap tasting room features the company’s core products, such as Pure Green, Watermelon-Mint, and Chlorophyll Lemonade, along with its tonics, teas and other beverages in development. Additionally, Solti has partnered with local cafe Peace Pies to offer a menu of raw organic foods.
Founded originally under the name Shakti in 2014 and rebranded as Solti in 2016, the company also sells its juices at retailers throughout Southern California.
With a capital infusion of more than $5 million, led by executives from Ballast Point, expansion is imminent. Solti intends to replicate this brewery-style, juice tasting room in major areas throughout the country, including one on the East Coast.
“We want to win people on quality and price, as we believe that we’re giving the customer huge value,” said Ryne O’Donnell.
There is no question that Solti is delivering on this promise. I’ve tasted the juices, and they are exceptional.
But Solti is winning on something else – being a real innovator in the pressed organic juice industry and going where no one else has gone before.
Similar to how Jimmy Rosenberg, the founder of Evolution Juice, was a pioneer for being the first person to use HPP in pressed juice several years ago, Ryne O’Donnell is blazing a new path with UV light filtration. I know of no other pressed organic juice company in the world utilizing this technology.
Solti deserves tremendous credit for its outstanding juice, phenomenal innovation, and unwillingness to accept the status quo.
After all, anyone who can think up and execute pressed organic juice in a keg deserves a medal.