Issue Winter 10
Juice is a mainstay for many refrigerators, but its freshness is momentary, and its shelf life is brief. Likewise, it’s not easy for beverage companies to stay fresh in the marketplace, and their industry clout may be short-lived. Freshness has been the foundation of Sun Orchard’s success, not just in the quality of its products, but also in its approach to business.
“Sun Orchard has a 26-year tradition of making premium-quality juices, but we’ve evolved to be so much more than just our products; we’re an innovative resource to develop customized beverage programs for our clients that are unique and profitable,” President and CEO Marc Isaacs says.
The Tempe, Ariz.-based company began in 1984 as a citrus packinghouse adjunct that made orange and grapefruit juice for local restaurants and hotels. “That citrus packing house is no longer here, but we’re still going strong,” Isaacs says.
Today, Sun Orchard produces juices, fruit-based beverages and teas, smoothies and bar mixers under its own brand and proprietary or custom products for private-label customers. It serves multi-unit hotel and restaurant organizations, and distributors that deliver its products to a variety of end-users across the United States and Canada.
“Sun Orchard prides itself on its award-winning customer service and sales teams, which offer a wealth of experience and are strategically distributed throughout the country to optimize the personal nature of our services,” Isaacs says.
The company operates two year-round facilities in Florida and Arizona, “which serves as an excellent contingency plan for our national customers so that if there is a hurricane in Florida or a freeze in California, our customers won’t have to worry about product availability,” Isaacs says. “We can also meet the taste profiles and preferences of consumers in each respective growing region.”
Focus on Food Safety
Private labeling and customization are a high point of differentiation for Sun Orchard. “Even during these tough economic times, which may create some traffic challenges in our customers’ place of business, we’ve worked closely with our research and product development teams to bring products to the marketplace and assist our customers in enhancing the diversity, innovation and profitability of their beverage programs,” Isaacs says.
“Those capabilities allow us to add value to our customers’ businesses,” says Adam Isaacs, marketing and sustainability manager. “We can help them provide consumers with the highest-quality product tailored to the specific operational standards of their businesses.”
Quality assurance is a key focus at the organization every day. “We know first-hand the challenges associated with food safety,” Marc Isaacs relates. “But we have a quality assurance staff at each of our facilities led by team members with Ph.D.’s in food science and all of whom have food science, biological and nutritional backgrounds.
“We have a comprehensive HACCP plan that is inspected and reviewed by the FDA on an annual basis,” he adds. “At the Florida facility, the USDA is on site year-round. On behalf of our large customers, we also have third-party auditors inspecting our facilities. In all instances, we have received high ratings and are fortunate to have external input so that we can continue to improve our quality and production capabilities.”
Adam Isaacs, Marc’s son, joined Sun Orchard almost three years ago. His background in sustainable business brought a unique perspective to the organization. “I looked back at the company’s history and realized Sun Orchard’s tradition is steeped in sustainability,” he says. “The reason why this company got into making juice in the first place was to find a valuable way to discard our waste and make juice out of the citrus that was not attractive enough for retail.
“Our objective was to communicate the value of sustainability both internally and externally,” he continues. “The company developed a sustainability program with a three-pronged approach: healthy products, healthy people and healthy planet. Our No. 1 priority is to always deliver safe, nutritious and tasty juices, beverages and bar mixers. We’re also certified to produce organic products at our facilities.”
Under the ‘healthy people’ category, Sun Orchard encourages its employees to give back to the community by donating to a variety of philanthropic causes. Under its ‘healthy planet’ initiative, “We have a zero citrus waste program where none of our waste goes to landfills,” he says. “It’s used as a healthy, all-natural feed for cattle and hog farmers throughout the country. We’ve also implemented a comprehensive recycling program in both facilities that allows us to continuously reduce the amount of non-recyclable solid waste we generate. In the last year, we reduced our water use by literally millions of gallons in our Florida facility alone.”
“We’re not just talking about it – we’re doing it,” Marc Isaacs adds. “We want to create opportunities for our team members to grow and improve their capability to provide for their families. As a result, there have been many people who have been with us for many years, and I think that says a lot about Sun Orchard. We want to make our working environments safe and enjoyable. And we want to continue to assist our customers in providing excellent, value-added products to their guests and customers.”