Clio Snacks, Piscataway, N.J., and Epicurean Butter, Thornton, Colo., are two companies with origins that highlight how smaller processors can find major ways to expand.
A Ukrainian immigrant, Sergey Konchakovskiy founded Clio Snacks in 2015, after looking for a way to get his kids to eat healthier foods. Those efforts included Greek yogurt. Konchakovskiy made a batch that had a cheesecake-like texture and saw an opportunity to bring a unique chocolaty snack to the market.
Today the company’s yogurt parfait and less-sugar bars have distribution in several trade channels, which chief executive officer John McGuckin said was made possible by their appeal across multiple consumer insights. Clio’s CEO said their household penetration has doubled within a year, and they are building capacity to accommodate the rapid growth.
“One of the biggest challenges that we face is in expanding our production capacity to meet our increasing demand,” McGuckin said. “To help address this as we scale, we constantly look for ways to improve our production efficiency and attract experienced functional operations experts.”
McGuckin added that effective merchandising is another challenge, as is “obtaining the best shelf placement for the bars in the right section.” He said his company’s snacks intersect the refrigerated yogurt and dessert categories, and the location between the categories represents the best merchandising possibilities for the growing refrigerated bar category.
Additionally, the company plans to continue building brand awareness and launching new innovations that meet consumer demand in various categories, including all-day snacking, breakfast parfaits and less-sugar treats. Clio Snacks also is investing capital to help meet demand and investing in data to share the company’s story.
Recognizing a potential market
John Hubschman worked as a chef in multiple restaurants, including the Denver Chop House, and made compound butter for upscale menus. After that experience, he saw an opportunity to make flavored butter for those who desire to make restaurant-quality meals at home.
He envisioned a product that would save home cooks time by eliminating the need to measure out herbs and spices.
As a result, in 2004 John and his wife Janey began plans for a retail brand that would be known as Epicurean Butter. The launch quickly resulted in foodservice customers, such as specialty grocery store bakeries, private label requests and home delivery meal kits. The Hubschmans’ products are now available in 6,000 grocery stores and range in size from 1-oz dollops to 30-lb blocks.
Epicurean Butter brought in outside capital in 2019 to increase production capacity as well as sales and marketing efforts. The Colorado-based company launched an organic plant-based butter in 2021, and 1-oz squeeze packs and 1-oz dollops also contributed to growth last year, according to chief commercial officer Niloy Phukan.
– Dairy companies with a nationwide reach don’t always start as large operations. They often grow from beginnings as small local or regional brands. Read more here: Processors share the successes and challenges of growing their businesses.