Jamba Juice on growth, JambaGo


Jamba Inc. chief executive James White said he is ready to grow the Jamba Juice smoothie chain into a global brand — starting with local elementary and secondary schools.

By next week, the 752-unit chain will have opened about 30 pilot locations of a new platform called JambaGo, designed as a licensed outlet that could go into self-service venues. White spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News on Wednesday at an investor conference in Santa Monica, Calif.

Though JambaGo has potential at other venues, the focus will be the move into elementary and secondary schools, where foodservice providers are looking for more healthful options as a growing number of states prohibit the sale of junk food on K-12 campuses.

“We’re leveraging technology and a system that makes us more accessible in venues we don’t have access to,” White said. “We think it’s a really incredible growth opportunity.”

Taking roughly the space of a soda fountain beverage dispenser, the JambaGo format, which White calls a wellness center, includes the chain’s branded packaged products, as well as the option of several pre-blended smoothies that White said would rival the blended-to-order quality of those made in traditional locations.

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And for parents who fear the smoothies would simply add another dose of sugar into their kids diets, Jamba Juice now offers more healthful options made from all fruit with fewer calories, designed to meet the nutritional standards many states and school districts mandate for campus meals and snacks, he said.

JambaGo is the latest in a series of innovations White has spearheaded at Emeryville, Calif.-based Jamba Juice since he became chief executive in 2008, attempting to recreate Jamba Juice from a made-to-order smoothie chain into a potentially $1 billion healthy lifestyle brand.