Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 134 of 203

Stonewall also prominently displayed that citrus-themed packaging online. Soon, Lombard started hearing from consumers in Maine and then from more far-f lung locales like California, Florida, and Montana. These people weren't just reaching out via email; they were calling his cell phone directly. "In all my excitement," he admits, "I'd kept my phone number on the labels I'd originally made, so people kept calling to tell me what they thought of it." Turns out this gaffe gave him valuable insight. "When talking to these people, I came to realize that my packaging failed to properly convey the intended usage. I meant [the product] to be something that they could mix with seltzer or alcohol, the way I'd done originally. But because the product said 'tea' in giant letters on the label, they were only using it as tea. People didn't grasp that it was meant to be a soda or cocktail mixer." Recognizing he needed help on the branding and operations side, Lombard hired Michael Fourgere, a former vice presi- dent of Honest Tea, to consult, and then enlisted Portland's Pulp & Wire branding agency to revamp his website and create a strategic public-relations and marketing plan. The team's first step: rebrand the product as Finest Kind Mixers & Modifiers so consumers would better understand the products can be used with seltzer, as a cock- tail mixer, or as an instant iced tea. They dropped the blueberry f lavor, as it proved difficult to obtain naturally, and came up with four new f lavors: green tea with hibis- cus and honey, rooibos tea with orange and vanilla, oolong tea with ginger root, lime, and honey, and black tea with lemon juice and cane sugar. New Customers, New Markets The revamped line has been well received. Stonewall Kitchen, West Elm Market, Southern Season, and Whole Foods Markets are among the stores carrying Finest Kind. Most recently, Lombard received an order from Cost Plus World Market for 24,000 bottles. He is also self-distributing to select stores in in the North Atlantic region while negotiating larger distribution for the Northeast. Next up is a stronger focus on foodser- vice. "We are getting tremendous interest from bartenders and chefs," Lombard notes. The business is also working with Portland chef Roxanne Dragon on recipes for the Finest Kind website to showcase the prod- ucts' versatility beyond beverages in entrees and desserts. John Searles has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and other publications. producer profile 132 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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