Crush Cubes, which Startz launched in December, are perfectly-portioned, flash-frozen cubes of herbs, butters, sauces and seasonings that come in an ice-cube like try that allows consumers to quickly and easily pop out a cube to add flavor to a dish.
“Freezing is the oldest method of preservation that can be done naturally” without chemicals that many consumers are avoiding, Startz said.
He explained his propriety freezing technology protects the bold, natural colors of the herbs and sauces as well as their “true taste” without having to add artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.
Likewise, the packages, which include a thin film of plastic to seal each cube in the tray, protect the product from freezer burn. At the same time, users can conveniently push a cube through the plastic for a fast flavor addition to a meal.
Each cube is a teaspoon, which means the product is designed for small families to use without waste, but can easily scale up for larger families cooking more food at once, Startz said.
Recognizing that consumers often want fresh foods as a way to avoid ingredients in packaged products that they perceive as lower-grade, Startz said Crush Cubes are made with the highest grade ingredients.
The herbs have no added salt or oil and are vegan. The butters are hormone-free and the seasonings and sauces are all natural, he said. He added that when the Crush Cubes have oil, it is a small amount and is heart-healthy olive oil.
Because the items are frozen, consumers can enjoy them out of season and don’t have to worry about using them up before they go bad, he added.
Freezing is a double-edged sword
Crush Cubes primary selling feature – that they are preserved through freezing – also is one of the brand’s weakest points.
Consumers are not browsing the freezer aisle as often as they used to and instead are sticking to the outer edge of the store. Also, they might not think to check the freezer section for fresh herbs, flavored butters or seasonings.
“The frozen aisle does not have a great reputation right now because no one is making anything new and exciting. It is all pizza and TV dinners,” Startz said.
So, he plans to drive consumers to the aisle by aggressively promoting Crush Cubes in healthy cooking magazines, talk shows and blogs that feature the ingredient in recipes.
He also is encouraging retailers to place the Crush Cubes next to logical pairs to create meal solutions. For example, placing the Maple Butter next to frozen waffles and breakfast items, and the Garlic Butter next to frozen vegetables.
He also hopes to create seasonal displays with the products by placing the seasonings, such as pesto, teriyaki and chicken, next to proteins during grilling season for a full meal solution.
A diverse platform
Startz hopes to build on the Crush Cubes line going forward by adding beverages and cocktail mixers, such as bloody Mary mix that can be used to make one or two drinks at a time.
He also is considering making a coconut oil cube that consumers could easily measure without first melting – a major drawback for the popular ingredient.
Overall, Startz said, the Crush Cubes platform is extremely versatile and offers something for everyone – including retailers who might want to create store brand versions and food service providers who want the product in bulk.