Today we’d like to introduce you to Bradley Bennett.
Bradley, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am former architect who ended up working in the software industry for 20 years before landing in the consumer packaged food industry. How did that happen? I’m still not sure! The short story is that I was making pickles and pickled veggies for friends and family as holiday gifts for many years. The list of people demanding pickles each year got longer and longer and I eventually had to either stop or turn it into a business. Well… here I am.
I first placed Pacific Pickle Works in a few stores in Santa Barbara in 2011 as a test to see how appealing the brand would be. Eight years later we are now in 1,200 stores mostly in the Western US in natural/organic stores such as Whole Foods, Sprouts and New Seasons and now in the Eastern US in Wegmans and nationally in Cost Plus World Market.
Today we have a line of four traditional pickles including our newly released Pickles Under The Ginfluence, and eight pickled vegetables including several award-winners such as our Good Food Award winning pickled green beans, Jalabeaños, and pickled beets, Unbeetables, and our sofi™ award-winners Brussizzle Sprouts and Fenn Shui – fennel pickled in rice vinegar with ginger, Thai chile and citrus zest.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Are you suggesting that the road gets smooth?! Seriously though, growth in the CPG food industry is always difficult – especially when it comes to trying to build a brand in the grocery segment – whether conventional or natural/organic. The biggest challenge while trying to grow our presence in grocery is the cost of getting launched in this segment.
What most small companies don’t realize as they build their business is how much the grocery stores expect from them to get launched. Typically, they will request a “free fill,” which is a free case of each flavor of product for each store. So, if you get selected for four products in a 50 store chain, you will need to give away 200 cases of product just to get started. Then they will expect you discount this product quarterly at least 20% (which may be all of your profit margins to begin with), and some will require you to pay for advertisements a couple of times a year as well.
Many brands now have the option of selling directly to the consumer, whether through their own website or Amazon or others. This can be a great option but can take a while to establish the brand and requires other types of marketing using social media and likely other digital marketing.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Pacific Pickle Works – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Pacific Pickle Works got its start as a pickle and pickled vegetable company, but soon expanded into offering savory drink mixers anchored by our award-winning Bloody Mary Elixir which is a seasoning base for a delicious Bloody Mary and features our own house-made Worcestershire sauce. We soon expanded that line to include the first of its kind Michelada Shrub and bottled Pickle Brine.
Pacific Pickle Works established the “West Coast Style” pickle which is based on our signature umami-rich brine accented by chiles and other aromatics popular to West Coast style cuisine. All of our products have a notable crunch from our use of farm-fresh produce and that fact that refrain from using any artificial preservatives and over-processing the products which so many other established brands do.
We take pride in being committed manufacturing 100% clean label products with unparalleled quality. We continue to innovate our product line with unique items like our Lemon Verbena Hop-Pickle or our latest addition Pickles Under The Ginfluence which is a gin-infused pickle flavored with rosemary and jalapeño.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our current focus as a business is expanding our offerings for restaurants and bars in the foodservice space. We launched this program late last year and are starting to supply numerous hotels and restaurants throughout LA, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. We are excited about our new partnership with Chefs’ Warehouse to distribute to these restaurant/bar locations as well as serving many local area venues directly. We see much of the future of profitability for the company in establishing strong relationships with our hotel and restaurant partners that can raise the quality of their pickle and Bloody Mary offerings while featuring a fresh locally-made product.
To read the full VoyageLA article, click here