The brand's founder, Matt McLean, reflects on the mission that has driven the organic juice leader for the past 21 years.

Hannah Esper, Managing Editor

December 15, 2020

3 Min Read
Uncle Matt's Organic bottles

The first U.S. juice company to be certified Glyphosate Residue Free by the Detox Project, Uncle Matt’s Organic is (and always has been) a pioneering organic company. After a brief stint under Dean Foods until its bankruptcy in 2019, Uncle Matt's Organic returned to its roots earlier this year, lifted up by a team of successful industry investors including Gary Hirschberg and John Foraker, via a new parent company named Harmoni, Inc.

The leading brand of organic orange and grapefruit juices didn't sit still for long, however. When the pandemic roared in this spring, the team got to work creating an immunity product to meet the moment. The brand's elderberry-enhanced Ultimate Immune juice was awarded the Spark Change 2020 NEXTY Award for Best New Organic Beverage.

We spoke with Matt McLean, who founded the company in 1999, about staying true to your mission while continuing to take risks and address customer needs.

What do you think consumers are looking for when they turn to your products?

Matt McLean: Consumers tell us over and over that they love our delicious organic juice for its consistently great fresh flavor, and because it has a real story about a family that has a passion for healthy living and organic farming. Uncle Matt’s Organic has stayed true to its mission for more than 21 years.

Have there been any changes in consumer purchasing behaviors of your products since the onset of the pandemic? Are there any specific products or categories that have seen marked changes in sales?

MM: The orange juice category has experienced strong sales growth since the onset of the pandemic. The overall category was flat—or declining—for the last decade but since the pandemic there’s been a resurgence with over 20% growth. Consumers understand orange juice is proven to support your immune system and it’s a nutrient powerhouse. With naturally high vitamin C and powerful bioflavonoid antioxidants like hesperidin, our organic OJ is a valuable tool for supporting your health and wellness.  

Do you think consumers are making more conscious choices about what they buy based on how products might affect their own health, society’s health and the health of the planet?

MM: Yes, I believe this continues to be an ongoing trend. Natural and organic foods continue to garner more market share and shelf space at retailers. When you look at new product launches in particular, you will see most are positioned as "better for you" in some form. It’s what’s really driving growth in the CPG industry.

What does innovation mean to Uncle Matt’s Organic and how do you approach innovation in terms of new product development?

Matt McLean Headshot.jpgMM: Innovation is the lifeblood of Uncle Matt’s Organic business. We’re not afraid to take risks on new products to address our customers’ needs. We were pioneers with the organic OJ segment 20 years ago, and most recently, we were the first to add functional ingredients like turmeric and probiotics. Now, we’re innovating with ingredients like elderberry. We believe you should always put your customer first to help fill a need. If you do that well, the market will reward you. Our new Ultimate Immune (with elderberry, 300% vitamin C, 50% vitamin D and 25% zinc) just won a NEXTY Award for Best New Organic Beverage.  

Mission is more important than ever to consumers, how does your brand Spark Change as a champion of organic agriculture and the health of people and planet?

MM: Uncle Matt’s Organic has been fighting the good food fight for over 21 years, and we’re thrilled to see how far organic food and farming have progressed. Leading by example and never settling for something less helps spark change. Our mission has remained the same: to produce the highest quality organic products while educating consumers and farmers on the benefits of an organic lifestyle. It’s a mission I live by every day.   

Natural Products Expo Spark Change logo

Learn more about Uncle Matt's Organic and see its latest products in the Spark Change Product Discovery Zone virtual expo. Visitors can:

  • Find the latest products.

  • Get sales sheets and other downloadable information.

  • Connect with the sales team.

Head to the Product Discovery Zone.

About the Author(s)

Hannah Esper

Managing Editor, New Hope Network

Hannah Esper is the Managing Editor for New Hope Network’s Nutrition Business Journal. She’s an editorial professional with more than 10 years’ experience of creating content strategies and overseeing their implementation process.  

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