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January 11, 2019 Staff

How to Start a Healthy Juice Bar Food Truck in 2019

Happy 2019! The start of a new year always marks a time for reflection and looking ahead to the future. Some of the top resolutions you’ll find each year is the goal to eat better and get healthier overall. According to a 2017 poll by YouGov, eating healthier is actually at the very top of the resolution list, tied with saving more money and working out.

While eating better is a common goal it’s not as easy to accomplish as you might already know. Eating consistently healthy meals means investing the the time required to meal plan, prepare and shop for healthy food items.  This can be tough if you’re busy running a business, have a job, or a family to take care of. It’s easy for busy people to fall back into a routine of eating fast food or other meals out of convenience only a few weeks into the new year.

Enter the business opportunity of the increasingly popular juice bar food truck. A smoothie or juice truck provides customers a no-hassle way to get their daily serving of fruits and vegetables. The juice and smoothie bar industry overall has continued to grow over the past 5 years according to IBISWorld industry reports. According to the report industry revenue will hit $3 billion 2019. In the United States alone there will be approximately 5,861 businesses that fit into this business classification.

With a mobile food unit, you can deliver this healthy product to customers with money to spend, but the lack of time to make a healthy drinks themselves. Some proven popular locations for smoothie trucks to serve are at large corporate offices and special events that focus on active lifestyles like 5K runs. You can take a video tour of a Smoothie King ProMaster Food Truck below that was built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks below.

Depending on your needs a truck, trailer or step-van can be all be converted into mobile juice bars so plenty of flexibility in the build out of these units.

You should expect to invest well over $100,000 to start a retail juice bar location. You will be able to invest well under $50,000 on a mobile juice unit. Aside from a lower cost to get started, some of the unique advantages to mobile juice bars is that you won’t be locked into a longterm lease. One of the biggest risks with a juice bar when starting out is finding a profitable retail location. If you end up opening in a location without sufficient foot traffic or the wrong demographics of people, the business could fail. Finding the perfect location is not as important when going mobile because  you can move to greener pastures at any time.

Crafting the Right Menu

Coming up with a menu for your juice truck is part art, part science. You may need to tweak the recipes of the beverages you sell depending on the location you plant to vend. If you are willing to listen to your customers and continually refine the menu overtime, you’ll figure out what’s most profitable.

With that being said here are a few type of beverages you should consider for your future menu:

Cold-Pressed Juice – This is an increasingly popular form of juice that is made without heating up the fruit to retain its vitamins and minerals.

Organic Juices – If you’re catering to a more healthy conscious audience, knowing whether or not the fruit you use is organic or not is important. You will need to pass along the added cost of organic ingredients to customers.

Traditional Smoothies – Traditional smoothies made with fruit have gotten a bad wrap as of late since so many of them contain high amounts of sugar. Still these beverages remain top sellers at juice bars nationally.

Coffee and Other Beverages – While you may not specialize in serving coffee or other drinks, it can be beneficial to offer this beverage. It’s not at all uncommon for juice establishments to sell a type of coffee that aligns with overall mission of the business.

Equipment List Considerations for a Juice Truck

Some basic things to keep in mind is that if you want to keep the cost lower of these units, a van or trailer conversion will be more lower cost than a food truck. If you plan to serve drinks and basic add-ons like pre-made muffins or energy bars a van can be a great option and will run well with regular maintenance for years to come.

If you plan to have more than two people working in the juice van or if you need larger menu, a van won’t typically work due to the space limitations. If you need to fryers, prep table, coffee makers, and blenders all installed onboard a step-van the equipment can be extremely tight. Give us a call if you’re working to determine the layout and type of equipment that will fit comfortably into your unit.

The final equipment consideration to make is that blenders, ice machines, and other equipment that you need on a juice truck is going to take a lot of power to run. If you plan to serve gourmet coffees on the unit, you’ll need even more power and will need a generator with sufficient wattage. You can read our previous post on how to determine the electrical power needs of a food truck if you want to go more in-depth on this topic.

Here is a list of commonly installed equipment on a juice truck: 

  • Prep Table / Cutting Boards – You’ll need plenty of space to cut fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Refrigerator – This will keep product like milk, fruits and veggies cool.
  • Ice Machine – Products like smoothies and juice require ice so you’ll need a reliable machine that can keep up with sales volume.
  • Commercial Juicers – A way to quickly extract pulp and seeds from oranges and other product.
  • Commercial Blenders – You’ll need at least two reliable blenders installed on the unit to keep up with rush time periods.
  • 3-Compartment Sink + Hand Washing Sink – This is a requirement for washing knifes, spoons, cups and other utensils on the truck.
  • Coffee Maker – Even if you specialize in juice and smoothies many vendors increase their sales by offering coffee as well.
  • Display Unit – We recommend installing a customer facing display unit into the vehicle to increase sales. You could choose to display food or drinks in this area.

Market Analysis and Competition

Before jumping into any business opportunity, it’s wise to check out what the local competition is doing in your area. More than likely there will already be some brick-and-mortar juice bar locations operating successfully in your area. Two of the most popular franchises in this industry are Smoothie King and Jamba Juice. Smoothie King has over 1,000 locations globally with an average gross revenue of $681,724 for the top 25% of locations in the United States. Jamba Juice has over 900 locations according to their franchise website. You can’t hit this level of locations without strong market demand for the product.

If you do plan to open a smoothie truck, you should visit these local stores to view their menu and taste their products. You should also hang out in these locations and observe the clientele. What kind of people frequent these establishments? How busy are the locations? Does this seem like the type of business you would like to operate? What is the price being charged in your area for a small, medium, and large size juice? This is an easy and fast way to help determine if this is a business opportunity you would like to explore further.

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