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Hain Celestial's BluePrintCleanse Takes Cold-Pressed Juice Battle to Starbucks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hain Celestial's (HAIN - Get Report) BluePrintCleanse and Starbucks (SBUX - Get Report) cold-pressed juice line Evolution Fresh have been waging a battle on grocery store shelves.

That battle could morph into a full-fledged war because of advances from BluePrintCleanse, which was acquired by Hain Celestial in 2010. Starbucks acquired Evolution Fresh in 2011 for $30 million.

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According to Nutrition Business Journal, an independent research firm, sales of natural and organic food increased at a compound annual growth rate of 12% from 1997 to 2011, reaching a total market size of $43 billion in the U.S. Nutrition Business Journal estimated that the CAGR will be 10% for the category from 2011 to 2020, no doubt supported by folks striving to live healthier lifestyles.

Sheila Stanziale, president of Hain Celestial's U.S. baby and refrigerated segment, assigned a value on the super-premium cold-pressed juice market at "about $500 million" but that number is fuzzy as it could include people home-pressing their own juices. Stanziale, who joined Hain Celestial in January, said estimates on the market's value aren't "specifically tracked" yet, but said the industry is expanding "rapidly."

That's hard to dispute when looking at the expanding list of products from BluePrintCleanse and Starbucks' Evolution Fresh as well as the sales figures from the former.

For Hain Celestial's fiscal year ended in June, sales for BluePrintCleanse "have just about doubled to $40 million" said Stanziale, from the $20 million logged when the brand was acquired in 2011. That makes BluePrintCleanse roughly 1.9% of Hain Celestial's business on a sales basis. That figure may be small but Stanziale said BluePrintCleanse could now be found across most of the Whole Foods (WFM) system and its "rapidly moving into Safeway" and other upscale grocers.

Evolution Fresh from Starbucks (my firm, Belus Capital Advisors, rates SBUX a hold because of its balanced risk-reward ratio for investors) "is a very small part of our overall sales mix," according to Starbucks vice president of investor relations, JoAnn DeGrande. Sales for Evolution Fresh aren't publicly disclosed and the brand is only available in the United States. 

Since February, BluePrintCleanse has launched five new products, including three in a larger 32-ounce bottle that retails for $15.99. The company also has launched in the last 10 days, "two new SKUs (stock-keeping units) at Whole Foods: coffee cashew and spicy apple," Stanziale said. These products are so fresh to Whole Foods' shelves they can't be found at Whole Foods' online store.

Taking a page from Pepsi's (PEP) grocery store marketing playbook, Hain Celestial started positioning BluePrintCleanse products closer to the parent company's dry goods, such as carrot chips. If a consumer "buys them together," noted Stanziale, they will save a couple of dollars.

For years, Starbucks has visually dominated checkouts at grocery stores with coolers for pre-made frappuccinos, which could open the door for Evolution Fresh juice coolers down the line. Hain Celestial, too, said it plans to introduce cold-pressed juices inside a cooler found by the checkout. At 30 inches wide and five feet tall, the BluePrintCleanse cooler will be "open air" according to Stanziale, as "doors impede a purchase."

Stanziale said there will be "more news soon" from Hain on a follow-up to the "green" drink product that launched the brand onto the cold-pressed juice drink scene.

Hain Celestial, Starbucks and lesser known names continue to push the cold-pressed category forward with new grocery store items. Investors in either Hain or Starbucks could benefit from the great race to provide fruits and vegetables inside a single bottle.

-- By Brian Sozzi CEO of Belus Capital Advisors, analyst to TheStreet. This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff. At the time of this publication, Belus Capital Advisors rated Starbucks a hold. Brian Sozzi is the CEO and Chief Equities Strategist of Belus Capital Advisors. He is responsible for developing and managing an equities portfolio of mid- and large-cap positions, in addition to leading the firm's digital content initiatives. He is also a personal finance columnist for Men's Health magazine.

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