Which is why the bone broth company has just launched a line of keto soups in four flavors (mushroom bisque, broccoli cheddar, spicy cauliflower, and butter curry) on crowdfunding site Kickstarter with a $20,000 fundraising goal.
According to Mares, it's easier for consumers to transition their snacking to keto friendly food and drink choices, but the real inconvenience kicks in when charting out complete meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
"Sure you can snack on some keto-friendly jerky or some macadamia nuts, and it might fill you up in the short term, but it isn’t truly a satisfying full keto meal," Mares told FoodNavigator-USA.
"That’s when we decided that a good medium to solve this problem would be soup – a meal in a box essentially."
R&D for its line of keto soups began in June 2018 and wrapped up four to six weeks ago, Mares told this publication. The keto soup line uses various fat sources from organic grass-fed heavy cream and butter in its mushroom bisque, broccoli cheddar, and butter curry soups, and organic coconut cream in its spicy cauliflower variety. Each keto soup also incorporates a cup of bone broth, added Mares.
"You’re getting the health benefits of consuming bone broth and we’re checking all the macro nutrient boxes for keto friendly," Mares said.
Keto craze: 'This thing has wheels like we've never seen before'
You could argue that bone broth is already a keto-friendly option for consumers, so why make the investment into a creating an entirely new line of soups marketed as keto?
"Bone broth is already great for the keto diet," acknowledged Mares. However, bone broth isn't the most satiating meal time choice, which makes it ideal for fasting diets and when you're sick, he added. Launching a separate line of keto soups with a higher fat content will help Kettle & Fire tap into a the growing keto devotee audience.
'Keto' has surpassed 'paleo' in Google searches:
"Launching a keto-specific product will be a great way for us to break into a space that’s growing at such a rapid clip. This thing has wheels like we’ve never seen before," he said.
Kettle & Fire also wants to provide a more convenient way to consume bone broth, which can take up to 48 hours to prepare in crockpot or on the stove top and requires easy access to stock pile of chicken or beef bones.
"It’s really just a massive time commitment," Mares said. "The goal is to solve for the inconvenience issue and expose more people to bone broth through a different delivery mechanism."
New go-to-market strategy: 'Rinse and repeat'
When Kettle & Fire first launched in 2016, it took some convincing of retailers to stock a shelf-stable broth product into the center-store soup category that had already been stagnant for quite some time, Mares remembered.
Euromonitor market data shows that the US soup category experienced a 2% volume decline between 2012 and 2016. However, data from Grand View Research shows that things are turning around for the soup category with growth being driven by wet broths/stocks as well as frozen/refrigerated soups.
"We’re kind of following this rinse and repeat process," Mares said.
"In 2017, natural stores took a chance on us (launching nationally with Whole Foods) and we proved ourselves, and then in 2018 we expanded the brand into conventional (Kroger, Safeway, Publix, and more)."
Mares feels that having a suite of products as opposed to just three bone broth SKUs a few years ago will gain further buy-in from major retailers across channels.
"We've been able to perform way above retail expectations and now we have an entire product suite to demand the entire shelf and [secure a] big shelf presence," added Mares.
In addition to its keto soup line, Kettle & Fire will be launching four seasoned bone broth products later this year.
Slightly similar to when Kettle & Fire launched in 2016 and was available exclusively online for its first year, launching its keto soup line on Kickstarter will help the brand engage an active online community and drum up excitement before entering retail further down the road, explained Mares.
"It will allow us to gauge the response. It also allows a grace period between when people place orders and when we can fulfill them because we’ve learned things never go according to plan, especially when it comes to craft a high quality product," Mares said.