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 79 of 131

store awareness as we can," Burke says. Consistent advertising to the trade has been an important tactic to boost buyer confidence. "I've heard that some buyers will wait until they see that a small company is standing on its two legs before taking this risk of ordering," she explains. "I think that by having a market- ing and advertising plan in place they could tell we were here to stay." Key successes for the company include gaining national approval by Whole Foods Market—meaning it got to bypass the usual regional-specific applications—and being picked up by Barnes & Noble, where they are now available in more than 600 stores. But the real sign of success in such a short time is seeing the range of stores that sell the candies, including Fresh Market, Dean & Deluca, Wegmans, Central Market, Market District, Earth Fare, New Seasons, PCC, Mollie Stone's, Hy-Vee, Kings, D'agostino, and Fairway, to name a few. Foodservice clients include a slew of hotels—Caesars Palace, Harrah's, MGM Grand, Bellagio, Paris, Mandalay Bay—as well as UCLA Dining Services. The University of California, San Diego is selling Torie & Howard candies at several locations around campus, including a grocery store, coffee shop, and farmers market. "It's par- ticularly exciting to be on college campuses," Burke says. "College students are all over us." Even though they had done the groundwork, Burke says they have been f loored by the media response, which she chalks up to good luck. The company and candy have been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, and Saveur. What's Next Torie & Howard is creating new products set to debut in the sum- mer of 2014. Burke adds that the team is proud of its philanthropy efforts, which include giving a portion of proceeds to Autism Speaks, an organization that has personal meaning for Slatkin, who has a nephew who is autistic. Beyond that, the company plans to keep going full-speed ahead; there is more to learn about the specialty food business, Burke says, and more customers to reach. orange and honey. The candy is USDA certified organic and kosher and contains no GMOs, preservatives, artificial dyes, casein, soy, or gluten. Torie & Howard conducted a great deal of research to find the right co-packer to produce the hard candy. "We went to quite a few but settled on a very well-established company that has been making candy for 30-plus years," Burke says. "It's been a great relationship." Developing the Right Packaging Burke and Slatkin took the same do-your-homework approach with packaging. "Howard and I both like pretty, cool things but we didn't want the candy to be wildly expensive," Burke explains. "We both knew that we wanted to put it in a tin, and we knew we wanted to make it shareable, and we knew we wanted to have a product that could sell across a lot of channels. It had to work for gift stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and theaters. And it can. We were very particular. I think we drove our design company, the Silver Creative Group, to drink." In addition to the tins, the company has created a new shipper, and has done special seasonal packaging to add a fresh look for the core flavors. Hitting the Ground Running When Torie & Howard exhibited at the 2012 Winter Fancy Food Show, the company had already done a significant product run and were ready for any and all orders. "We did the Business Builders meetings and got in with distributors who gave us helpful feedback. It also helped us refine our pitch so we were ready when the show opened," Burke says. "Our entire plan at the beginning was to gain the interest of mom-and-pop shops and then gather enough business to inspire a distributor to pick us up," she continues. "The opposite happened. We had a distributors' program in place at the show, and five months after launch we were at UNFI. That was our first order." The company even created a broker network "to aid the distributors in getting our product out to specialty, natural, and grocery." The business is working hard to keep the momentum. "We have a fulltime social media person, we have public relations people, and we are working night and day to gain as much consumer and SPRING 2014 77 Susan Segrest is a contributing editor to Specialty Food Magazine. brandSpotlight_4_14.indd 77 3/17/14 8:22 AM

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