When companies are consciously driven to deliver beyond expectations, success is bound to follow.

It’s wasn’t that long ago that Fruit 66, a beverage company located in Richmond,VA, set out to create a juice product that delivered something different. But today, just four years since they launched, the company is trying to keep up with the demand that reaches to Canada, Guam, the Cayman Islands and China. “We started with a juice concept, but we wanted our product to fit the needs of what the schools and kids in the U.S. needed,” said owner, William Hargis. Discovering what that universal need was meant digging deeper than the claims touted by trend reports and industry papers; Hargis set out to conduct his own research.

“I sat down with the USDA, the School Nutritionist Association, the Institute of Medicine and key food directors across the states and simply asked, ‘What do you want…what is the perfect beverage?’ and they truly had a hand in crafting what Fruit 66 is today,” says Hargis.

There’s no greater health concern exploding right now than the war on childhood obesity. But how does a juice drink combat this epidemic behemoth? In the school lunch line, Hargis would suggest, specifically on the tray.

Childhood obesity doesn’t mean depriving kids of taste; it means our country needs to stop feeding kids empty calories. But Hargis says traditionally, dropping calories also means the bottom drops out on nutrition – this is the zone where some juice companies hit a wall but where Fruit 66 sparkles.

Most drink manufacturers strike with three standard nutrients that meet the regulations and guidelines. Then they water it down, add sugar back in and ratchet up the calories. That whole process left Hargis unquenched. “Why not beat the standard?”, he asked.

“I thought, why only produce the minimum they need; let’s give this product everything we possibly can. That’s why we fill our juices with five essential nutrients,” Hargis says of his sparkling juice that is 6 ounces of pure juice and 2 ounces of sparkling water.

And kids love the flavor profiles and they haven’t a clue they are getting 30 percent less sugar and their daily allowance of key nutrients. The product is selling so well and even moms are hounding their grocery stores to carry the product on a retail scale.

Hitting the Lunch Line
Believe it or not, Fruit 66 carries enough nutrient value to replace the fruit serving on the lunch tray. With whole grains increasingly bountiful in everyday food items, Fruit 66 can leave the fiber of the apple behind and deliver mainly on nutrients.

When you enter the school arena, you have to drop the carbonation…Done. Fruit 66 emerges this year with a noncarbonated product line that is 100
percent juice, all natural and still low on calories. Today, Fruit 66 is in 15,000 schools nationwide and is available to students who have tested and some even submitted their ideas for the new flavor profiles that include passion fruit mango, strawberry melon and mixed berry.

Setting the Sights
The next sight for Fruit 66 is in food service where the demand is smaller and the volumes are manageable for Hargis’ distribution.

“This is where Jordano’s is playing a big part in our expansion; we’re able to reach the exact market we want to be in,” Hargis says. “It’s the right fit for us. We’re well matched in coffee shops that want a quality juice drink to meet the non-coffee drinking needs of children who accompany Mom to their local coffee shop, or where an option over sugary drinks is available at the local deli or pizza restaurant.”

Growing in today’s economy is evidence Fruit 66 is onto something good.