Jamba Juice works to make smoothies more healthful

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When you compare calorie and sugar content of McDonald’s smoothies with a classic version at Jamba Juice, they look very similar. How are they different?

Calories and sugar don’t tell the whole story, especially when you’re talking about whole fruit that’s blended and fruit juice. It’s really hard to distinguish where the sugar is coming from. I can’t tell you what’s in McDonald’s smoothies, but you’d have to drill down. Are they starting with whole fruit or a juice blend? When you use whole fruit and 100-percent pure fruit juice, you’re getting vitamins and minerals and fiber that you’re not getting from a smoothie base or blend that a lot of places start with.

The mayor of New York has proposed a ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. As proposed, fruit juices may be exempt, but by description, many larger-sized smoothies would not be allowed under the ban. What do you think of the proposal?

What Mayor Bloomberg was going for was trying to get people to stop drinking sugary drinks because of empty calories. People are downing these calories with no nutrients. A 16-ounce smoothie from Jamba Juice is head and shoulders above a 16-ounce lemonade or soda. If fruit juices are exempt, I would assume fruit smoothies would be exempt. The intention of the proposal is very important to consider. We want you to get away from drinks that are offering nothing for the calories. When you’re consuming 200 calories, you want to get vitamins and minerals and protein.

Jamba has fruit-and-vegetable smoothies, for example, and they make a great combination. It’s a way to work in your vegetables, especially with kids. Getting them to get their vegetables is a daily challenge. Jamba’s All Fruit smoothies are all under 250 calories at 16 ounces, and they offer multiple servings of fruit.

Jamba Juice is moving into schools, where many states restrict food offerings to those that meet certain nutrition standards. How has the chain dealt with that?

We have restrictions about what we can take on campus. There are size restrictions in elementary and middle schools, and we only use All Fruit or Fruit & Veggie smoothies. When you get into high school, sizes can get larger. Typically we’re part of a weekly menu, so a school might have them once in a week. Foodservice directors are designing menus with smoothies as an alternative to soda. It doesn’t replace things like milk, water or juice.

Can you share other ways you’d like to see Jamba Juice evolve as you work with the chain’s Healthy Living Council?

We’ve had discussions that have been really fruitful. I can’t tell you everything we’ve talked about, but I am incredibly impressed by how receptive everyone has been to our ideas. You will see even more innovation, and smoothies will continue to get better as they strive to serve their customers' needs. Everyone has their wish list, and we will see them come to fruition. It’s how we’re helping consumers. As the Healthy Living Council we have so many plans for helping people live better. It’s not just delivering the product but supporting the lifestyle. Keep your eye on Jamba Juice because you will see them lead even more.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout