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