While BRU Broth is not ready-to-drink in the sense that you have to heat it up first, it is targeted at the same consumers that shop the cold-pressed juice category, says Soo-Ah Landa, who co-founded BRU Broth with friend Mary Butler in 2014 in the San Francisco Bay area.
However, she admits that while she nailed the formulations pretty much from the get go, deciding how to package and position the product has proved more challenging, because while bone broth is “centuries old”, it is also a new concept to many US consumers.
We need to show people how the product is consumed
“We thought it would be fairly straightforward [to explain to consumers that BRU Broth is designed to be consumed warm] so we used messaging such as ‘pour, heat and drink’, or ‘heat, sip, smile’, and we had HPP labels on the cap saying ‘keep me cold, drink me hot’,” Landa told FoodNavigator-USA.
“But as we’ve been doing trials, consumers don’t always get it, and you realize that for a product so new to the market, the education piece is very significant.
“We’re redesigning the labels right now to really bring out the fact that this is warm nourishment and show people how the product is consumed,” she added.
“We’re also exploring if there are other areas for us in the grocery store that may be more appropriate [than the grab & go beverage chiller], for example by the packaged soups and sandwiches, but I’d say the jury is still out right now [about where to put it].”
Early adopters: Crossfit and paleo communities
But are consumers willing to cough up between $7.49 and $8.99 for a 16oz bottle of premium bone broth, albeit one containing at least two servings and packed with high-value ingredients?
So far, the answer appears to be YES, said Landa, who initially introduced BRU Broth to crossfit gym members and paleo diet enthusiasts, who have started to build bone broth into their routine as a nourishing mid-afternoon pick-me-up, a warming evening beverage, or for breakfast or lunch as a meal replacement.
“It’s not high in calories – 60-80 calories per serving (around half a bottle) – but it is very satiating,” she said. “A lot of people in the paleo community make their own bone broth, but it’s much easier to have someone else do all the work for you. Endurance athletes, crossfit and paleo communities are early adopters, but this is a healthy beverage that appeals to a far wider demographic.
“It’s healthy, warming, it has 6-8g of easily digestible protein per serving, so 12-16g per bottle, which is a pretty significant number considering the calories are quite low.
“We’re also very different to the big commercial brands of stock [which is typically used to make soup or other dishes rather than consumed as a beverage], which are usually sold in plastic pouches or tetra packs [in the shelf-stable aisle] and have a very low ratio of meat to water, something like 120-150 parts water to one part meat protein.
“Our bone broth is cooked for a long time with a curated selection of bones [with meat attached, or in the case of chicken, whole chicken wings] so the density of meat protein is typically much higher, up to 18%. We filter off the particulates and add cold pressed greens and other ingredients.”
But why add the fancy extras (BRUBroth products include on-trend ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, cold-pressed greens, cocoa, spices, coconut and flax oil)?
Because it delivers the benefits of cold-pressed juices in a warming, more satiating beverage with a sophisticated flavor profile, without the sugar, said Landa, who developed the concept in her kitchen after adding cold-pressed juices and other ingredients to home-made bone broth her mother used to bring over:
“I wanted more nutrient density, something warm but light that I could sip and enjoy first thing in the morning when I didn’t want a freezing cold juice.”
Whole Foods is very bullish about the bone broth category
So what kind of reception has BRU Broth – which is manufactured, bottled and HPP treated in Northern California and has a 30-day shelf-life - had from retailers?
So far, buyers have proved very enthusiastic about the product and the bone broth category as a whole, said Landa, who started the business with her own and co-founder Mary Butler’s savings, but raised around $400,000 about six months ago once it became clear that they had got a potentially winning product on their hands.
“Whole Foods loves the product and is very bullish about the bone broth category, which they think could be huge,” said Landa.
“We weren’t prepared for how aggressive they were, so we weren’t ready to deliver what they wanted at first, but they have been patient. They are really waiting for us to get a date when we are ready from a production standpoint. If you talk to distributors, brokers, retailers, they are all very bullish about bone broth being the next evolution of green juice.
“Feedback from pretty much all the stores we’ve talked to has been really positive so we are feeling very confident. We’ve also had great feedback from investors, advisors and entrepreneurs with a huge amount of experience in the food and beverage industry, and I am so grateful to all the people that have given their time to us.
“But with every conversation the list of things you need to do and to think about is magnified by about 10 as they always bring something up that you probably haven’t even thought about!”