Executive Briefing

Recalibrating for retail

The lessons behind Acid League’s new ‘Shortcut’ sauces. Plus: Chipotle on Ozempic, Sweetgreen’s new plates, and a coffee experience I’ll never forget.

Acid League Shortcut Sauces

The brand that’s still winning my fridge is Acid League, the wildly creative Toronto-based food startup that debuted with a fun lineup of vinegars a few years ago — including Meyer Lemon Honey and Strawberry Rosé — and rapidly expanded into salad dressings, sauces (hot and not), “broth bombs,” and more traditional condiments like mayo (the best!) and ketchup.

I wrote about the company last summer with much delight and some concern: That they were — for a small startup in a tough industry — perhaps trying to do too much.

Listening to CPG bankers speak at a private event last week, I was reminded that the big strategics are looking to buy large, fast-growing, profitable brands that are focused, with category-leading (really, category-growing or -defining) hero products and few distractions.

It’s important to experiment and iterate — that’s how this works! But while adding complexity can drive incremental growth, it will also draw scrutiny. And while you shouldn’t let large strategics dictate your strategy — there’s a reason they have to buy innovation — if you’re on the venture capital ride, you’ll probably need to fit in somewhere larger someday.

Anyway, it looks like the team at Acid League has — like many in the industry — found new focus this year.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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