Jamba Juice Targets Healthy Consumers

With the looming decision on the New York ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, the status of ambiguous beverages, such as Jamba Juice Smoothies and Starbucks Frappuccinos has come into question. When Jamba Juice launched in 1990, smoothies were seen as a healthy option in the often confusing and indulgent fast-food landscape, but recently, the high sugar and calorie content of these treats has given them a bad rap. Now, the brand is trying to change that.

In the past two years, Jamba Juice worked to evolve its image into a more health-conscious brand. This summer, Jamba Juice launched a Make It Light option, similar to Starbucks' light Frappuccino spin-off. The light option cuts the calories and sugar in 10 popular smoothies by one-third. Most recently, Jamba Juice has created the Healthy Living Council, composed of nutritionists and dieticians, to push the brand into healthy territory.

While the calorie and sugar content of these frozen fruit blends has been questioned, it is important to keep a few factors in mind. "What Mayor Bloomberg was going for was trying to get people to stop drinking sugary drinks because of empty calories," said nutritionist and Healthy Living Council member Elizabeth Ward to Nation's Restaurant News. "A 16-ounce smoothie from Jamba Juice is head and shoulders above a 16-ounce lemonade or soda."

Fat-filled Frappuccinos are often consumed as beverages, even though most have as many calories as a full meal. However, it's not all bad in the world of blended drinks: one of Jamba Juice's All-Fruit Smoothies contains three servings of fruit and only 250 calories in a 16-ounce, which serves as a healthy snack or part of a meal. Said Ward, "Making something with fewer calories is great, but you also need to look at what else is in there, like higher protein content or the vitamins and minerals that are delivered in these drinks. The focus is on what can I get in that cup, and that's where Jamba is going."

Ward said she doubts the ban will negatively affect Jamba's business. "If fruit juices are exempt, I would assume fruit smoothies would be exempt," she said. So if your favorite Frappuccino gets nixed from the menu, you may still be able to find a healthier alternative in a Jamba Juice All-Fruit Smoothie — it just might not satisfy your chocolate or whipped cream craving.