PG Web Extra: The Frontier of Soup


When developing products, Gurnee, Ill.-based Frontier Soups, a maker of all-natural soup mixes, balances the competing needs of consumers with creative aplomb.

Take the case of the company’s latest offerings. “Frontier Soups' two newest soups, which were introduced at the Summer Fancy Food Show, shine a light on a dichotomy within the soup category,” says founder Trisha Anderson. “Consumers definitely are seeking out exotic flavor profiles in cuisines from other cultures. To satisfy that desire for more culinary adventure, we introduced Pacific Rim Gingered Carrot Soup Mix with Thai and Indian influences. On the other hand, consumers crave comfort food classics, so our other newest mix is Kentucky Homestead Chicken and Rice Soup.”

This delicate balancing act also involves convenience, authentic taste and healthy attributes. “In the case of the gingered carrot soup, coconut milk not only adds a Thai influence, but is an ingredient consumers are seeking,” explains Anderson. “With the chicken and rice soup, consumers are looking to add more beans as a great source of nutrients, soluble fiber and plant-based protein, so we have added quick-cooking baby garbanzo beans to the mix.”

As further evidence of the company’s creativity, when it comes to marketing its soups, Frontier takes an out-of-the-box approach. “One of our best retail strategies actually doesn’t take place in stores at all,” says Anderson. “For many years, we have gone on the road to holiday marts every fall in areas where we have a strong retail presence. We have a chance to interact with consumers who are sampling our soups and get on-the-spot feedback from them for some informal, anecdotal market research. Our display always includes signage that tells consumers what retailers carry our soups locally, which is great promotion.”

Soup (and More) From Small Farms

Last November, the Beekman 1802 Farm Pantry line of 40-plus products, including soup mixes and soup seasonings, debuted exclusively at 900 Target stores, with an additional 300 stores to feature the items this month. According to Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer, founders of the Sharon Spring, N.Y.-based lifestyle brand, “The products use ingredients partially sourced from small American farms and give back up to 25 percent of profits to help support small-scale agriculture.”

Why should shoppers care about small farms? One key reason is the kind of food they produce. “There are more companies and brands than ever offering better-quality foods, and consumer demand is certainly growing for these products,” explain Ridge and Kilmer. “The most important thing that food producers can do is help educate the consumer on why they should pay a premium for these products. This is the real cost of real food.”

Despite spreading the word through social media, they are aware that achieving this goal will be a challenge. “Our customers know that the mission to get small-scale agriculture represented in the middle aisles of the grocery store is going to take a sea change,” note Ridge and Kilmer. “We’ve asked them to join the ‘farm-to-shelf’ revolution and to take to their own social media platforms and encourage others to do so.”

When consumers purchase products from the Beekman 1802 food line, the message sent is a simple one, they note: “Selecting an item from our Pantry helps support small farms in America.”

Going forward, the company’s founders anticipate that the current trend toward clean products will only intensify. “We will continue to see the trend toward less fillers, additives and artificial ingredients,” they assert. “For so long, consumers were trained to buy only on cost, but taste and quality are finally making a comeback!”

Package Deals

Given the brief of creating innovative packaging for iconic brand Progresso’s new line of cooking stocks, Seattle-based design firm Hornall Anderson employed vibrant, classic imagery; up-to-date typography; and a fresh color scheme to communicate the brand’s craftsmanship and love of ingredients. Meanwhile, the side of the packaging references Progresso’s history and enthusiasm for food, as well as providing suggestions to home cooks.

The resulting containers, according to Hornall Anderson, “radically broke category conventions — building on years of heritage to create a fresh, new perspective.”

In other packaging news, Hartsville, S.C.-based Sonoco introduced the clear, retortable plastic TruVue Can as an alternative to the traditional metal can.

“With more than 47,000 products competing for attention in the average supermarket, standing out from the crowd is increasingly important,” says Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders.  “This is especially true for processed and shelf-stable foods like soups, sauces, fruits and vegetables, and even wet pet foods – products traditionally sold in a metal can in the center of the store, an area which is losing share to fresh products found on the perimeter. This new solution creates multiple placement opportunities around the store, including high-traffic areas like the perimeter.”

Made with Sonoco’s patented Fusion Freshlock Technology, the TruVue Can is made of a highly engineered, multilayer plastic substrate that enables shoppers to see the product within. It incorporates the easy-open metal lid and metal bottom that consumers prefer on a traditional metal can. Most significantly, Sonoco notes, TruVue is the first clear plastic can to withstand the rigors of continuous retort systems without overpressure, performing in high-temperature and high-pressure environments. Further, TruVue’s unique construction can provide a more uniform heating experience, a quicker retort cycle and greater strength performance throughout the supply chain, compared with competing formats. The can is also non-BPA for food contact.

A byproduct of Sonoco’s i6 Innovation Process, TruVue offers excellent contact clarity, which in turn creates dramatic shelf impact and conveys a fresh brand image.


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