Juicero found itself in the limelight on Wednesday after Bloomberg ran a piece on the company’s $400 cold-press juice appliance. It seems investors have been disappointed in the juicer after discovering that its primary function—squeezing juice out of a proprietary bag—could be replicated by human hands. In a test by Bloomberg, reporters were able to squeeze 7.5 oz of juice out of the Juicero bags in 1.5 minutes. The $400 juice press got 8 oz out in 2 minutes.
Althoughcontacted the company yesterday, no one responded to our request for comment. But today, Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn, formerly of Coca-Cola, took to Medium to write a defense of his company’s juice maker.
“Juicero’s mission is to make it dramatically easier and more enjoyable to consume more fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, and that’s a really tough nut to crack,” Dunn wrote. (A fantastic turn of phrase that hopefully was intentional, given Juicero’s claim to deliver four tons of force during the pressing process.) “It seems simple, but despite everything we’ve done to-date as a food community, we’ve barely moved the needle.” Juicero is decidedly not a household name, so one is left to wonder how much of a budge from the needle is expected as a result from the company’s (or food community’s?) efforts.
Dunn goes on to write that after seeing the headlines of the last few days, his primary thought was, “We know hacking consumer products is nothing new.” Dunn links a list of YouTube videos about making coffee with K-cups without a Keurig. But despite Keurig’s relative success, that’s also a company that had its share of PR problems, especially after it debuted a machine that would only make coffee from Keurig-approved cups. The outrage led to a 23 percent drop in brewers and accessories in the subsequent year.
Ultimately, Dunn’s defense of the Juicero juicer states that:
Our connected Press itself is critical to delivering a consistent, high quality and food safe product because it provides:
- The first closed loop food safety system that allows us to remotely disable Produce Packs if there is, for example, a spinach recall. In these scenarios, we’re able to protect our consumers in real-time.
- Consistent pressing of our Produce Packs calibrated by flavor to deliver the best combination of taste and nutrition every time.
- Connected data so we can manage a very tight supply chain, because our product is live, raw produce, and has a limited lifespan of about 8 days.
Never mind that the first and the third point are essentially the same. Never mind that remotely disabling Produce Packs seems like an incredibly frustrating experience if you’re someone who doesn’t mind drinking juice 12 hours after the eight-day expiration limit (as long as you never admit your disgusting, disgusting habit in polite society). Dunn says that this allows a busy dad to have juice without cleaning a more traditional juicer and allows an executive to get notifications on her phone if a juice bag is about to expire. “These are just a few examples of the value that the Juicero system offers, and we’re just getting started,” Dunn writes, insisting that Juicero’s investors are committed to helping the company smooth out the “bumps in the road” to getting customers to drink more fresh juice.
Dunn asserts that you won’t get the proper Juicero experience “by hand-squeezing Produce Packs, which to be clear, contain nothing but fresh, raw, organic chopped produce, not juice. What you will get with hand-squeezed hacks is a mediocre (and maybe very messy) experience that you won’t want to repeat once, let alone every day.”
Dunn accompanied this statement with a video that shows a person cutting open a Juicero pack to reveal a pulp of carrots that, to his credit, is not juice. But it’s also still a pre-made pulp in a proprietary bag that cost $5-$8 and won’t be good after eight days.
But Juicero does make an effort to meet any disappointed customers half way. “For the next 30 days, we’ve decided to extend our Happiness Guarantee to any Juicero customer — new or old — who feels that we aren’t making it easier, more enjoyable and delicious to form a healthy habit,” Dunn writes. “That means that if you send us your Press, we’ll refund the money you paid for it. Period.”
Listing image by Juicero