A tech startup is promoting a juice machine that it said uses four tons of force, but a Bloomberg Tech report showed that two hands work just as well as the $399 juicer. The video was published on 19 April 2017 alongside a report saying that the company, Juicero Inc., promoted the machine as being necessary for buyers to turn its proprietary fruit and vegetable packages — which are also sold by the company — into juice.

Juicero founder and former CEO Doug Evans described the process on the company’s blog:

Place a Pack onto the Juicero Press, press a single button, and you have fresh cold-pressed juice in just over two minutes. The Press itself creates three to four tons of pressure—enough to lift two Teslas—and enough to squeeze out every drop of organic fresh kale, spinach, apples, and other fruits and vegetables into your glass.

But Bloomberg’s video showed an unidentified person squeezing a Juicero pack and producing juice as efficiently as the press:

In Bloomberg’s squeeze tests, hands did the job quicker, but the device was slightly more thorough. Reporters were able to wring 7.5 ounces of juice in a minute and a half. The machine yielded 8 ounces in about two minutes.

Juicero refused to comment on Bloomberg’s story, but a source with ties to the company disputed the report, saying that they had never been able to get “more than 6 ounces” of juice when they tried squeezing the packages by hand. They added that the packages were not built to be squeezed by hand and could burst.

The source also said that while each package has an expiration date printed on it, the company also ensured product freshness through the use of the Press and its own app. The app, they said, alerts buyers when packs approach their expiration date; in the event of a food recall, Juicero can remotely stop any affected packages from being squeezed by the press.

Bloomberg reported that while some investors were unaware that Juicero packs could be squeezed by hand, some businesses using their products had no complaints about using the juice machine, saying that the packs could be disposed of efficiently.

Evans was replaced as Juicero CEO by Jeff Dunn, but still chairs the company’s board. The story was published a day after the company announced it had expanded its distribution to 17 states.

Dunn released a statement on 20 April 2017 defending the machine and his company’s product, saying that its value was “more than a glass of cold-pressed juice.” He also said:

The sum of the system — the Press, Produce Packs and App — working together is what enables a great experience. However, you won’t experience that value by hand-squeezing Produce Packs, which to be clear, contain nothing but fresh, raw, organic chopped produce, not juice. What you will get with hand-squeezed hacks is a mediocre (and maybe very messy) experience that you won’t want to repeat once, let alone every day.

In a separate statement on 1 September 2017, Juicero announced that it would stop making their juicers and packages effective immediately. It is also offering refunds on Juicero Press purchases for buyers who email the company at help@juicero.com by 1 December 2017. The announcement came a month after Juicero said that it wanted to focus on lowering the price of both the device and its food packs. According to the statement:

During this process, it became clear that creating an effective manufacturing and distribution system for a nationwide customer base requires infrastructure that we cannot achieve on our own as a standalone business. We are confident that to truly have the long-term impact we want to make, we need to focus on finding an acquirer with an existing national fresh food supply chain who can carry forward the Juicero mission.

Updated to note Juicero's suspension of sales on its juicers and product pacts, as well as its refund offer through 1 December 2017.

Sources:

Huet, Ellen and Zaleski, Olivia.   “Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze.” Bloomberg Technology.   19 April 2017.

“Do You Need a $400 Juicer?”
   YouTube, via Bloomberg.   19 April 2017. 

Evans, Doug.   “Our Founder’s Perspective: The Journey to Juicero.”
Juicero. 30 March 2016.

@juicero. “Ready, Set, Press! Starting today Juicero is now available in major metros and select zip codes in the Western US: http://bit.ly/get-juicero.”
  Twitter.   18 April 2017. 

Juicero. “A Note from Juicero’s New CEO.” medium.com/@Juicero. 20 April 2017.

Juicero. “Company News.” 1 September 2017.