When the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira invested in the health-drink chain The Juice Press, he joined a crowded field in the natural-beverage business. The competition is stiff, especially from other high-profile athletes.
Tennis star Venus Williams, 31, recently signed a deal to open five Jamba Juice outlets in the Washington, D.C. area. Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez, 36, now backs the coconut water bottler Vita Coco after parting with Zico. The players join an already competitive market, as Starbucks, a beverage industry slugger in its own right, bought the juice outfit Evolution Fresh for $30 million in November.
It's no coincidence that older athletes are involved, the 31-year-old Teixeira told The Huffington Post this week, because they're looking for a nutritional edge to stay in their sport longer.
The premium juice industry is valued at $1.6 billion, and the broader health foods category is generating $50 billion a year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Teixeira, a two-time All-Star, and investing partner Kenny Dichter are teaming up on a Juice Press store in Greenwich, Conn., where Teixeira lives. They are also putting an undisclosed amount of money in the entire company. The Juice Press has three stores and a soon-to-open fourth in Manhattan, according to its website. They feature cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices for refreshment and for the juice-only fasts called cleanses. The stores have also gained a following among raw-food devotees. The Connecticut outlet is expected to open in the spring.
In addition to Teixeira's heavy-hitting profile, The Juice Press apparently got a determined entrepreneur. The first baseman said he was looking for a worthwhile investment to help manage, not a celebrity endorsement gig. "It's not like I'm getting free juice for life to like it," he said. "I am much more interested in long-term partnerships."
Teixeira paid $25,000 for a new company domain name, juicepress.com, because it was easier to remember, store officials said. The address will become active soon.
Juice Press co-founder Marcus Antebi called Teixeira a "clipboard-and-pen guy" who asks a lot of questions. Store regular Ramona Sidlo, wearing a Yankees cap Wednesday, met the two-time All-Star the day before when he visited one of the East Village venues.
"It's great that he's a part of it, but I was drinking it before," she said.