November 16, 2011: Juicy News

Sometimes ideas and concepts that have settled in and lost their “hotness” can be reborn into trendiness because of new circumstances. This could easily be the case with juice bars. Juice bars were the talk of the town two decades ago when Jamba Juice reinvented and revived the juice and smoothie categories.

Today there are more than 700 Jamba Juice locations across the country. Add hundreds of juice outlets from Jamba’s competitors and you might think the juice category is pretty mature, with no room for new players. Unless, of course, you’re the legendary Howard Schultz, the chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks—the man who reinvented coffee.

With an eye on the burgeoning health and wellness market, Schultz is entering the juice market in a big way. Just two weeks ago Schultz spent a reported $30 million buying Evolution Fresh, a super-premium juice maker with a brand presence in grocery stores on the West Coast. Schultz plans to expand the brand by distributing the juice to more retail outlets, adding it to the menu at Starbucks, and launching juice bars in 2012. According to The Wall Street Journal, the juice bars (the name has not yet been revealed) will also sell other health foods. CSPnet.com (which reports on news about convenience stores and products) says the super-premium juice market is currently a $1.6 billion industry, which is a small part of the $50 billion health and wellness sector.

There’s been rampant speculation about whether this move had anything to do with Starbucks dropping the word coffee from its very familiar logo several months ago.

Will Starbucks’ entry into the juice bar business be a category killer? If you’re Jamba, you might be worried. But if you’re an entrepreneur in a smaller town or city, where there’s no dominant juice bar (or none at all), you might think about opening one before the new Starbucks venture takes hold. Often smaller areas get left for last, or the big chains never even open there.

This could be your chance to squeeze out some juicy profits.