An unwrapped rendering of the redesigned label shows the soup’s clean-label messaging and other key elements.
Summer label changes and retail challenges
After months of on-shelf experience, Allan came to the conclusion that the bottles, wrapped in transparent shrink labels, should be made less transparent. This would to address the fact that these were natural, light-sensitive products with batch-to-batch variations and results that were not always aesthetically pleasing.
That called for a label design change.
“Consumers are accustomed to highly processed, homogenous products,” Allan explains. “Starting in June we had the shrink label converted with the product’s key color—red, orange or green—printed on three of the wrapped sides while leaving the back transparent. Consumers can see that it’s a fresh and delicious high-quality product on the back, but it’s protected from the light on the other three sides. It also jumps off the shelf a more with the printed color versus the organic products’ natural, somewhat dull blended color—we use no dyes. The response has been positive because there’s a nicer presentation on shelf.”
It’s on-shelf where the unique brand also faces the hurdles of merchandising and consumer education, which are the biggest of Allan’s challenges.
“In effect, we are creating a new category with soup in a bottle and have to create a place for it in a supermarket,” he says, noting that stores’ tendency is to put it with juices “because it looks like a juice, but it’s not. We’re adamant about locating the products near salads or sandwiches or grab-and-go items. Tío Gazpacho is filling and it’s convenient for when you are hungry and don’t have time for a meal.
Having this unique packaging for soups is great, but it is a challenge as well.”
What’s been learned and what’s ahead
What about the products’ reception?
“Once people try it, they love it,” Allan responds. “We’ve had a pretty aggressive in-store demonstration program. People sample it and then buy it. There’s nothing out there like it, it’s really unique and we’re finding a lot of repeat customers who are telling their friends—it’s growing organically through word of mouth.
And the retailers are happy because it’s a unique, premium product with a nice profit margin for them.”
What has he learned about packaging?
“I’ve learned about the basic difference between aseptic packaging and hot-fill and cold-fill and HPP and pasteurization using preservatives and how all that relates to packaging,” he responds. “That has made me a smarter consumer, too.
“People ask me if I can sell it in a glass bottle, but I say no, because glass can’t withstand the HPP process.”
Allan considers the product and its packaging a work in progress. He is already looking at changing from a stock shape to a bottle that’s a little more customized, “just to make it my own, perhaps using a slight variation of this bottle. We’re small and can’t do everything exactly how we would like it, but we expect to grow and can make some changes.”
Also in the works are additional products, typical and atypical, to be launched by the end of 2015.
“We plan to launch one more gazpacho and then an additional three SKUs that are still in development,” he tells us. “They will also be drinkable, plant-based soups, but they will probably be more like a bisque or broth.”
Authenticity and high praise
Allan points out there are packaged gazpachos commercially available in Europe, but Tío Gazpacho is distinctive from those, too, in that they are all heat-pasteurized. “That cooks it, though by definition gazpacho is a soup made from raw ingredients and served chilled. It just doesn’t taste like gazpacho once it’s pasteurized.”
That was in contrast to the restaurant versions made-from-scratch and served cold that he loved and has tried to emulate.
“The beauty of HPP is that it never heats the product, so it still tastes raw and fresh. People ask me all the time, ‘how do you do this? It tastes like it was just made.’ That’s because it uses HPP. At events, I’ve had Spanish people say to me, ‘this tastes like my grandmother’s gazpacho!’ That’s the ultimate compliment.”
Lastly, we asked when he expected that major brand owners might get wind of what he’s doing. “They already have because I’ve had meetings with them.”
We think that’s pretty flattering feedback, too.
For more on HPP processing, see the PD article Performance under pressure.