TEXAS TITO’S: SUCCEEDING IN A SALTY BUSINESS
Texas Tito’s was founded in 1996 and began on South Flores Street in San Antonio. It was the first company to introduce portion packaged jalapeno peppers to the marketplace. These single serving size packages of nacho sliced jalapenos brought the nation’s favorite chile pepper to the market in a never before seen package that was convenient and delicious.
Approximately 10 years later Tito’s was moved to New Braunfels, where it continues to thrive today. Following the success of the single packed jalapeno pepper slices, Tito’s has since introduced other specialty peppers in convenient packages, jalapenos and other chiles in deli cups and most recently individually packaged jumbo dill pickles.
Like most new and innovative companies, Tito’s faced its share of challenges – most specifically with the sticky and juicy properties of its hottest product – nacho sliced jalapenos.
“They are a challenging product to package in the format that Tito’s utilizes,” company president Chris Snider said. “The product sticks to everything, which results in their having ‘poor conveyance properties,’ as those in the packaging business would say.”
Being the first to successfully package sliced jalapenos in this format has required Tito’s to be innovative and create specific solutions to this sticky problem. In order to remain competitive and continually become more efficient, Snider knows that these innovations must be ongoing and continuous.
Having recently entered the highly competitive category of individually packaged jumbo dill pickles, Tito’s now faces a new level of competition. There are large companies who have been in the pickle business for decades who Tito’s now has to compete against in this category. There is also competition from overseas, as India has become a major exporter of pickles to the U.S. This growing competition from countries with lower wages will continue to put pressure on domestic cucumber growers and pickle producers. Tito’s strives to source as many cucumbers and pickles as possible from Texas, working with growers in Uvalde and other regions.
Tito’s is currently the only company producing individually packaged pickles in Texas and enjoys good relationships with other Texas pickle producers as a result. Tito’s is working to continually strengthen these relationships to become increasingly competitive in the individually packaged pickle category, which is a large market and opportunity for Tito’s and Texas cucumber growers as a whole. This category presents a major opportunity for Tito’s and will remain the focus for future growth for the foreseeable future.
The focus on sourcing Texas grown cucumbers is both personal and business for Tito’s. From a personal standpoint, Tito’s ownership knows that the U.S. and Texas economies are strengthened when farmers are supported by food processors and consumers.
“This is the most sustainable way to ensure a steady food supply chain for U.S. consumers,” Snider said. “From a strictly business standpoint, the desire to source Texas cucumbers stems from the quality of Texas cucumbers, the reduced transportation costs and times and the ability to work directly with growers to make sure that the unique requirements to package pickles in individual packages are understood and met.”
This commitment to sourcing Texas cucumbers led Tito’s to joining the
GO TEXAN program. Tito’s also enjoys doing business with a number of Texas entities, including stores located in Texas State Parks.
The interaction with the GO TEXAN program has provided a number of opportunities which Tito’s has benefited from. Tito’s products were included in bags placed in suites at a Texas Tech football game. Attendees of the game who saw products in these bags were exposed to many GO TEXAN member products that they may have never otherwise seen. Soon after this, Tito’s was contacted by one of these attendees who wanted to place Tito’s products in convenience stores located throughout West Texas. Tito’s products have also been featured at the State Fair of Texas®, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and other high traffic venues where Tito’s would not otherwise have had exposure.
Tito’s was also the recipient of a GO TEXAN Partner Program marketing grant in 2014. Tito’s was able to use these funds to help offset the marketing costs associated with launching the new individually packaged pickle line.
“The reduced marketing costs increased Tito’s competitiveness in this category and allowed for improved market penetration in addition to further incentivizing Tito’s to source cucumbers from Texas during their product launch,” Snider said. “New product launches are always difficult as companies, especially smaller ones, don’t have the volumes necessary to purchase materials at prices consistent with their competitors who already have significant market share, resulting in reduced profitability and cash flow which the GO TEXAN grant helped overcome for Tito’s.”
Tito’s continues to take advantage of the product placement opportunities that
GO TEXAN provides.
“These are excellent low or no cost opportunities that put Tito’s products in
front of consumers and others that may not otherwise see them,” Snider said.
Tito’s advises other GO TEXAN members to participate in these programs.
“It is a rare opportunity when a company can get their products in front of hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people for the cost of samples.”
If you’d like to find out more about Texas Tito’s products, visit their website
and Facebook page