The advantage Zoup! has in the bone broth space is 19 years of foodservice experience, Zoup! founder and CEO Eric Ersher told FoodNavigator-USA. “It gives us the legitimacy and credibility that many other brands don’t have—the reality is we serve soup face-to-face, to around 1 million people every two weeks,” he added.
Available in chicken and beef varieties, Zoup!’s bone broth is made in kettles and prepared in small batches, now available nationwide in 4,000 stores including Safeway, Fresh Thyme, Central Market, Kroger, and Albertsons.
These two bone broths round up the line of jarred stock to five offerings, including chicken broth, beef broth, and low-sodium chicken broth. This line is the first, and so far only, retail item into which the restaurant chain forayed.
Growth in the bone broth category
Zoup! jumped on the bone broth bandwagon at the right tine—it launched the broth line five years ago, around the time which Bon Appétit magazine defined as the turning point when ‘stock’ started to go by its trendier name ‘bone broth,’ thanks to the rising popularity of the Paleo diet.
Sales numbers from retail sales data firm SPINS provide some evidence of how the category is burgeoning. Though relatively small, US retails sales of bone broth more than tripled to $19.7m in the 52 weeks to January 22 this year.
In this small space, Zoup!’s differentiator is its flavor profile, Ersher said. “We were focused on creating a broth that was good enough to drink,” he said. “It’s not a niche product that’s going to anyone’s particular dietary needs or preferences—it is really out there to compete with all of the major brands in the center of the aisle.”
The brick-and-mortar advantage for route to market
Ersher argued that launching a line of bone broth for retail wasn’t about following trends; it was in fact based on real feedback from the restaurant chain’s dine-in guests. “It’s one of the benefits of having the brick-and-mortar locations, we get real-time feedback from our customers,” he said.
“We heard from [them] that really good broth that you would make at home just wasn’t available in grocery store shelves,” he added. The company did side-by-side blind tests comparing its prototype broth with available grocery store brands, and the consumer panel continuously chose Zoup!’s as better tasting.
With the success of its broth line so far, Ersher said the company is looking at other opportunities to venture deeper into the retail grocery space. ”Our experience in foodservice certainly gave us the know-how to develop these products,” he said.