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Originally published February 25, 2014 at 3:00 AM | Page modified February 26, 2014 at 6:46 AM

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Evolution Fresh begins distributing juices in Midwest

Starbucks’ Evolution Fresh unit said it’s bringing its vegetable and fruit juices to Chicago and other midwestern cities, as the coffee giant flexes its logistics muscle in pursuit of the lucrative market for premium juice.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Starbucks’ Evolution Fresh unit said it’s starting to sell its vegetable and fruit juices in Chicago and other Midwestern cities, as the coffee giant flexes its logistic muscle in pursuit of the lucrative market for premium juice.

Produced on the West Coast, Evolution Fresh juices became available in the East Coast a year ago.

Selling in the Midwest plugs a big distribution hole, and follows the opening last October of a $70 million juice-making facility in Southern California.

The facilty enabled Starbucks to quadruple Evolution Fresh’s juice output and widen its distribution, said the division’s general manager, Chris Bruzzo.

Evolution Fresh’s arrival in Chicagoland underscores Starbucks’ aggressive strategy to grow in the consumer and packaged food segment, which opens more avenues for expansion in North America than its traditional coffee-shop business.

Starbucks’ acquisition of Evolution Fresh in late 2011 was a way of breaking into what it estimates is a $1.6 billion market for premium juice. It’s also a beach head into the huge market for products for the health-conscious, Starbucks has said.

Unlike most fruit juice available in grocery stores, which is heated at some point during processing to kill germs, Evolution Fresh cold-presses its juices and uses high pressure instead to get rid of pathogens. Fans of the method, which has caught on in recent years, claim this makes the juice tastier.

It’s also pricier than run-of-the-mill juice. Fifteen-ounce containers of Evolution Fresh juices retail from $2.99 to $6.99.

The juices are now available in more than 9,000 outlets — both Starbucks coffee shops and grocery retailers. Starbucks expects to have Evolution Fresh juices all over its network of company-operated locations by the end of the year.

Evolution Fresh also has four of its own stores-- three in the Seattle area and one in San Francisco.

Ángel González: 206-464-2250 or On Twitter: @gonzalezseattle

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