How Equipment Investments by Two U.S. Food & Beverage Producers are Paying Off
There may not be anything more satisfying to innovators in the food and beverage industry than to see consumers respond positively to a new food or beverage product. To be sure, it’s a good problem to have, but when the demand for new products begins to outpace supply, increasing output is critical for continued success.
When Kimmye Bohannon began making and selling raw, unpasteurized juices out of her home kitchen three years ago in Lexington, Ky., she had no idea how quickly the demand for her juices would grow. Weekly door-to-door deliveries soon turned to a storefront juice bar appropriately named The Weekly Juicery, with subsequent locations opening in Louisville and Cincinnati. Since her juices contain no preservatives to maintain shelf life, it was important that she choose a juicing method that would extend the freshness of her products and meet her customers’ delivery times.
Food and Beverage Manufacturing Equipment Challenges
Bohannon chose to invest in cold press juicers because this method maintains shelf life for much longer than blender-type juicers, from which juice must be served almost immediately. But, at that time, cold press juicer options proved to be very limited. In fact, there was only one available on the market, and it was designed for low-volume residential use.
“We juice every night, all night, and had ten or 12 of them running here to meet the demand of our business,” Bohannon said. “But, because they are designed for residential use, we found we were spending too much money repairing them from overuse, and knew it was time to find a new option.”
As luck would have it, two companies out of California began making larger cold presses that were just what The Weekly Juicery needed to keep up with demand. But these juicers were out of the young company’s price range, so Bohannon would have to find a way to pay for one.
“We have contracts with local growers and, because of this, the Kentucky Agriculture Development Board offered us a grant to pay for a new cold press,” Bohannon said. “A capital purchase like that would have been inaccessible to us. Being able to make that purchase has been a game-changer for our company and has allowed us to grow.”
Another food and beverage producer who has utilized grant money as a way to invest in new, more sophisticated equipment is Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants, which operates restaurants in seven states and produces some 350,000 cases of its exclusive wines each year.
“Our biggest challenge is finding and developing the right people, which is why efficiency and productivity in the winery and restaurant business is absolutely critical,” said Tim McEnery, founder and CEO of Cooper’s Hawk.
Beyond investing in new turbo chef ovens for its restaurants, Cooper’s Hawk has purchased a new wine glass polishing machine and a stateof-the-art wine bottling recycling machine. Because of its potential to reduce the company’ environmental impact, the state of Illinois provided Cooper’s Hawk with the funding to develop the customized wine bottle recycling machine, the only one of its kind in the U.S.
“We wanted to find out how we could recycle our wine bottles but discovered that, in the wine business, nobody was doing that,” said McEnery. “So, we looked to the bottled water industry and found a company in Milan, Italy that we worked with on the design and the specifications of the machine. We were dealing with the third generation of this company, so the technology has actually been around for quite some time, we just haven’t been using it in the U.S.”
Last year alone, Cooper’s Hawk saved over 215 tons of glass from landfills and one of every five bottles was reused again for upcoming vintages.
“If you can figure out a simpler, more efficient way to do something, it’s worth its weight in gold, and we’re willing to pay for that.”