Turning on the Juice
College campuses cater to all-day juice demand
By Scott Hume, Managing Editor
Consumers interest in simple and pure ingredients starts in the morning, when sales of freshly squeezed juices, straight up or in creative combinations, are strongest.
Demand for fresh beverages is especially robust among young adults, and college and university dining-services departments are meeting it by making juice drinks available in dining halls throughout the day. Many schools also have created juice bars to cater to freshness cravings.
When dealing with college students, remember that they keep unusual hours. Breakfast may be at noon, so juices are popular all day, says Maureen King, director of campus dining at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Fresh juices always are offered at Vassars All College Dining Centermanaged by Philadelphia-based contractor Aramarkand are available at the on-campus Starbucks unit. The Atrium Juice Bar, located in the four-story vaulted lobby of the colleges recently opened health and fitness center, is the only location on campus offering freshly squeezed juices (in addition to coffee drinks, bottled water, fruit smoothies, pizzas and sandwiches). Fresh orange and grapefruit juices are popular, as are signature blends such as Shakespeares Garden, a mixture of cranberry juice, strawberries, raspberries and ice.
College students put a premium on freshness, making fruit and vegetable juices all-day choices. At Vassar College, customers gather at the Atrium Juice Bar after exercising.
The Atrium is a campus destination, but it also caters to students who have come to the health center to work out, says King. They can get a juice drink and relax.
Before and after workouts at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., students congregate at the juice bar in the campus 7-year-old George Smathers Wellness Center. At the home of the Hurricanes, the most popular drink is Cane Passion, a blend of orange, guava and peach juices with strawberry sherbet.
Fruit smoothies account for about 50% of sales at the juice bar, says Leland Rapport, resident district manager for Chartwells, a unit of Charlotte, N.C.-based Compass Group North America, which manages campus dining. The Citrus Hurricane combines pineapple and apple juices with strawberries and vanilla yogurt.
Fresh juices sell well too, he adds. Fresh orange, carrot and celery are popular, along with bottled juices.
An organic-foods dining concept Sodexho plans to add to selected campuses is Herb'n Farm. Created by Mill Valley, Calif.-based Wild Sage Foods, the prototype unit opened in 2003 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs (a Sodexho contract), initially under the Wild Sage name.
Herb'n Farm's "Clean Cuisine" is all about freshness, says Michael Wahl, its corporate chef. More than 80% of ingredients used are certified organic, with as many as possible locally sourced. All menu items carry symbols to indicate if they are vegetarian, vegan or nondairy. "But it's not just a vegetarian or vegan concept," Wahl says. "It's about fresh, clean eating." Free-range chicken and hormone- and antibiotic-free beef are well represented on the menu.
Herb'n Farm offers an extensive selection of fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Apple and orange are the top sellers, but carrot juice is coming on strong, Wahl says. The concept also sells smoothies, with top choices Pink Passion (fresh orange juice, strawberries and strawberry sorbet) and Verry Berry (orange juice, blueberries, strawberries and strawberry sorbet).
Sodexho has exclusive development rights for Herb'n Farm through 2005 and plans to open another three to five campus locations for the school year beginning in September 2004. Sourcing adequate supplies of organic foods was a hurdle for the first unit, Wahl says, but Sodexho has signed an agreement with a national organics distributor.
The campus Hurricane Food Court includes a licensed Jamba Juice unit where fresh-squeezed juices are available.
In Middlebury, Vt., where the weather is a bit less sunny and sports activities tend to take place in snow, self-op Middlebury College houses its juice bar as a cash operation in the McCullough Student Center.
Fresh orange juice is a popular choice, says David Kerin, juice bar manager, especially during cold-and-flu season. Specials include limeade in summer and hot mulled cider when the leaves fall.
Juices' bright colors are natural merchandisers, but memorable names help too.
Fruit smoothies are big year-round, but when the temperature is -10F outside, students tend to drink them here, Kerin explains. You dont want a cold smoothie in your hands outside on days like that.
Juices and cider drinks sell for $1.50, while coffee is $1.20 and espresso drinks $2.25 to $2.75. The bars Frosts line of smoothies costs $1.75 each.
We've kept prices stable for four or five years, Kerin says. But students who like juice will buy it; theyre not looking at price.
Juices on-campus appeal makes commercial brands popular additions to college food courts. The Jamba Juice unit at the University of Miami is one of nearly a dozen campus locations the San Francisco-based chain operates.
At its University of California, Santa Barbara, unit, choices include Berry Lime Sublime (raspberry juice, strawberries, lime sherbet and ice); Peenya Kowlada (pineapple juice, coconut, banana, pineapple sherbet, nonfat frozen yogurt and ice); and Orange Berry Blitz (fresh-squeezed orange juice, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple sherbet and ice).
The Irvine, Calif.-based Juice It Up! chain operates at California State University-Fullerton, and Los Angeles-based Robeks Juice has a store on the California State University-Long Beach campus.
Gaithersburg, Md.-based Sodexho USA pursues the most aggressive campus juice strategy, choosing to develop brands.
In 2002 it joined with Atlanta-based Freshëns Quality Brandsfranchiser of the Freshëns Frozen Treats and Freshëns Smoothie Company chainsto create ZiA Juice, a smoothie/juice concept. Sodexho, which had since-expired exclusive development rights to the concept, has opened eight units on campuses it contracts.
The first ZiA Juice opened in January 2003 in the student union at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. With 700 transactions a day, its volume is 50% greater than the Freshëns Smoothie unit it replaced, says Mike Scheffres of Sodexho, general manager of the ZiA unit.
Squeezed-to-order juices are centerpieces of the 23-beverage menu. Apple, carrot and orange juices are available as well as blended fruit or vegetable combinations such as Beet the Heat (beets, carrots and celery). ZiAs smoothies, branded as Squeeze Freezes, also include freshly squeezed juices. The Hi Hawaiiya? combines fresh orange juice with organic mango, tangerine sorbet and toasted coconut. A 24-oz. Squeeze Freeze is $3.95, the 32-oz. $4.95.
We were so popular immediately that we were burning out blenders, says Scheffres. I had to call the supplier and get a sturdier model.
ZiA Juice opens at 10 a.m., and theres always a line of students waiting, he says. It closes at 9 p.m. on weekdays, 5 p.m. on weekends. Beverage orders are about equally divided between juice drinks and Squeeze Freezes, with late morning through lunch the busiest.