Exclusive interview: Q&A with Rudolph Foods on Pepe's Chicharrones performance and growth
Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to talk to Mark Singleton, vice president of sales and marketing, Ruldoph Foods, Lima, OH, about their Pepe's brand and its growth and current performance.
Liz Parker: How is the brand performing?
Mark Singleton: The Pepe’s brand is one of our fastest growing, due, in part, to the consumer group we serve. Traditional Hispanic shoppers have carved out a strong niche for authentic and traditional foods that speak to their food culture, and we’ve seen this manifest itself in double digit growth year after year.
LP: How is the brand set to grow?
MS: Pepe’s is paced to grow in the double digits in sales this year, despite the challenges America has faced. We think this speaks to the true loyalty and trust we’ve been able to create between the brand and our consumers. By offering consistent quality at an affordable price, consumers can still enjoy their snacks without affecting their wallets.
We’ll continue to innovate our signature product. In today’s production, we’ve found new ways to cut and cook the pork rinds so we can keep the authenticity of the product intact, as though it’s made right in the carnicerias. We’ve found success serving our pork rinds freshly popped at meat counters, so consumers can buy them in bulk. They’re incredibly popular as a bulk item, as well as a packaged item.
LP: What made the brand decide to branch out to Churro cookies?
MS: We continue to listen carefully to our shoppers, so we can better serve them. We were able to innovate with traditional flavors and familiar foods, packaging them in a way that was convenient and exciting. It took us two iterations to create a cookie that tasted authentic.
LP: What flavor trends do you see coming up for 2020/2021 with your products?
MS: Growth in the pork rind category has been inspired, in large part, by artisanal offerings. Today, we’ve seen gourmet seasonings and the use of new cooking methods drive significant sales increases.
However, because the Pepe’s brand is small, we’re nimble enough to pivot at consumer and retailer request. It’s a traditional product that allows us to serve a consumer who we believe will continue to ask for what the generations of family before them have asked for—nostalgic snacks with authentic flavor from home.