The high pressure processed (HPP) treated brand, which launched in 2014 as an organic brand in 12oz bottles priced at around $7.99; has since switched to a 10oz bottle, moved from an organic to an ‘all natural’ positioning, and slashed its MRSP to $4.99, which instantly made it more accessible, founder Austin Allan told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We did some focus groups and learned that while organic is a nice to have for most consumers, they are not willing to pay that much more for it. People told us very clearly that the maximum they would pay for a product like ours was $4.99, so that’s what we’ve gone with, and it’s made all the difference in the world.
“We’re in around 800 doors now and we’re now in Wegmans in the NorthEast, Fresh Thyme in the Midwest, we’ve got into Target, and then Whole Foods in Northern California, so we’ve seen tremendous growth this year.
“Everyone else - brands such as ZÜPA NOMA and Bonafide Provisions Drinkable Veggies - seems to be a dollar more than us, so we’re well positioned in the category, even though we’ve still got a very high quality product and really satisfying flavors.”
When it comes to merchandising, Tio Gazpacho – which can serve as a hearty mid-morning or afternoon snack/beverage or a meal replacement, especially at lunchtime – can work in the produce section, the chilled grab & go beverage set, or by chilled soups [that require heating] and other fresh prepared items, or in some emerging fresh snacking sets (click HERE and HERE).
The partnerships with José Andrés and General Mills 301 Inc
The partnership with José Andrés – who contacted Allan shortly after news broke that General Mills’ 301 INC arm was the lead investor in a $1.25m funding round into Tio Gazpacho – should also help the brand move into the foodservice channel, and has already enabled Allan to tap into Andrés’ sourcing network of produce suppliers, he said.
“They have a produce person on staff that has been helping us source amazing ingredients and get great prices, and we’re also working on some new products together.
“General Mills has also helped us with recipe development, costing and plant trials, and were able to help us do the focus group testing.”
While it's been a slow burn - as drinkable soup is a new category for retailers and consumers to get their heads around - awareness is slowly rising, he said.
"It's good that there are competitors. Three years ago, it was a case of, 'Who's this guy selling soup in a bottle?' whereas now, people take me more seriously. Industry and consumers are catching up to where we were three years ago."
Tio Gazpacho uses high pressure processing (HPP), whereby foods or beverages are put into a high-pressure chamber that is flooded with cold water and pressurized (hence the term ‘cold-pressured’) in order to kill pathogens without heat. This enables the brand to produce products that tastes exactly like fresh gazpacho you’d make at home, with no preservatives or added flavors, and a shelf-life long enough to secure national distribution.
The soups come in six flavors: Clásico (vine-ripened tomato, green pepper, cucumber); Gazpacho Verde (kale, spinach, avocado, mint); Gazpacho de Sol (yellow tomato, yellow pepper, carrot); Rosado (watermelon, cilantro, cayenne); Maiz (corn, roasted poblano, lime); and Fresa (strawberry, basil, romaine).