Rita Salgado and Douglas Gilman are (very) visionaries who founded the Sonatural brand 15 years ago. “There was already a trend to consume fresh products,” recalls the businessman. “We quickly realized the high pressure cooling technology, called HPP [sigla de High Pressure Processing], just released in the US, and we jumped at the chance. But it’s very difficult because the price is twice as much as pasteurized juice,” he now admits.
“It took a long time to convince distributors to put the product in supermarkets. We were lucky that a year later some Dutch people were betting on the same technology. Suddenly, two companies, one Portuguese and one Dutch, went Going out to the supermarket in Europe offers fresh juice just like the juice you make at home and can be consumed within 70 days without losing its nutritional qualities,” recalls Douglas Gilman.
“GL [empresa que detém a marca] There are always two very strong matrices, innovation and differentiation. We always invest in innovative and differentiated products. We always intend to launch new things that make us different. Launch of Benecol [o primeiro iogurte lançado em Portugal com ação comprovada na redução do colesterol no início da década de 2000] It’s totally bold. At the time, we even had a little fun, but it turned out to be an important market,” recalls Rita Salgado.
“In fresh juices, none of that. We’re a bit ahead of the market. Consumers don’t realize the importance of consuming fruit and vegetables today. Today, our struggle is different. There are a lot of brands that are sold in the same place as our juices. Fresh products using the same code,” criticized the company’s co-admin, who reformulated the labels on Sonatural’s fresh drink packaging earlier this year.
“Our rebranding of the brand is a way of emphasising that. We added the word Under Pressure to the name so people can understand that they are fresh products,” explains Douglas Gilman. “We choose the freshest ingredients, use techniques that preserve nutrition and flavor, and contain no sugar, preservatives or even water. It’s no accident that our products have the color, aroma and intense flavor of fruit and vegetables”, the entrepreneur assures.
In 15 years of brand building, there have been many challenges. “We were also teased when we launched green juices. The distribution only wanted juices. We stuck with fruit and vegetable juices, which was a trend in Europe and the US, and the fact was that the response was good,” he recalls. Rita Salgado. “The introduction of ginger was also considered stupid, the reality is that it was our first reference in the European and North American markets”, the manager stressed.
“It was undrinkable, the distributor told us,” recalls Douglas Gilman. “We’re on a very long and safe road in America,” Rita Salgado said. “We have our own factory in Pennsylvania, built with Portuguese investment. It’s a sense of pride”, the businessman assumes. “In Europe, we operate in 10 countries. We export to Spain, France, Iceland, the UK, Finland, Switzerland, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine. Ukraine is an extraordinary market,” he said.
“We still don’t sell in Poland or Germany, but these are the markets we want to be in,” the businesswoman hypothesized. More than 80% of the fruits and vegetables used in Sonatural juice production (known as Sofresco in the US) are of Portuguese origin. “Mango is not yet, but it will be one, ginger must always be imported because we have no climate here to grow it. Oranges, pineapples, pomegranates and apples are our base, 100% country”, explains Ritaza lgado.
In addition to juices, Sonatural manufactures and sells kefirs, smoothies, probiotic pills, wraps, sandwiches, porridge, salads, snacks, and spreads of animal and plant origin. “Most humus on the market is rich in preservatives. Our humus is not, thanks to high pressure technology,” says Douglas Gilman happily. “We have good news this year, but we can’t reveal it yet,” warns the businesswoman.