Odwalla was created in 1980 by Bonnie Bassett, Gerry Percy and Greg Steltenpohl in Santa Cruz, California. The three founders thought of marketing fruit juices and started the business by using a secondhand juicer to extract orange juice. They then sold their product to restaurants in the area.
Five years after its foundation, Odwalla became incorporated and by 1988 had expanded its business to San Francisco. In 1993, Odwalla became a public company with about 200 employees, earning roughly $13 million every year. The company then acquired business in the area of Colorado and the Pacific Northwest, allowing them to expand operations in those areas.
In order to meet the demand for their products, the company built a new production plant in Dinuba, California. A year after, the company relocated to a new headquarters in Half Moon Bay, California. Over the succeeding years, Odwalla continued to grow and expand until it was considered one of the largest fruit juice companies in the United States in 1996.
What made Odwalla beverages appeal to consumers was the idea that the company’s products were healthier, because they were not pasteurized. However, not undergoing pasteurization raised concerns about bacterial contamination. Eventually, an E. coli outbreak that was linked to Odwalla’s apple juice product led the company to review its food safety procedures. Although it was concluded that no E.coli contamination was found on the company’s production facility, Odwalla had already suffered a major blow and lost millions of dollars in sales. In the same year, the company began adapting the process of flash pasteurization on its fruit juice products in order to prevent bacterial contamination.
In 1997, Odwalla introduced a new line of food products: food bars and shakes. In 2001, Odwalla was acquired by the Coca-Cola Company and was made part of the Minute Maid department. Because of the acquisition, Odwalla was able to expand to new markets and continued to launch new products which included energy drinks, soy-based drinks and pomegranate juice.
Today, Odwalla still continues to achieve very good sales from its organic beverages and snack bars. The company has also become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola.
Headquarters: Half Moon Bay, California
Ownership Type: Private, a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company
No. of Employees: 900
Geography: United States, Canada
Demography: Retail beverage consumers