Leading with Integrity
On The Border is reaching new and exciting horizons while satisfying a growing appetite for hot new snacks
As the engine behind On The Border® brand tortilla chips and dips, Dallas-based Truco Enterprises is quietly — and profoundly — seasoning the global palate. In the never-ending battle for shelf space and consumer taste buds, the exclusive licensee for On The Border’s retail products is exploring spice to win the day.
Truco is also betting on powerhouse management to guide the firm to a bigger wedge of the salty snack sector, which is expected to reach $229 billion by 2020 in the U.S. alone. Earlier this year, Truco wooed longtime PepsiCo exec Lisa Walsh to helm the firm.
“Here's the reason I came to Truco,” she said, “The fundamental thing about consumer products is that you must have a product with incredible quality. At the end of the day, quality trumps everything. It is your table stakes. If you don't have an exceptional tasting base product, you can't build iterations of innovation.” On The Border’s chips, salsa, and queso dips meet the unimpeachable quality standards upon which Walsh rightly insists.
“On The Border has an incredible base chip that we call our Café chip. It has a bubbly, flaky texture which delivers a unique experience for the consumer. It's a larger triangle cut, and that's what makes our chips so differentiated and special. It’s why people say, ‘I love On The Border chips,’ she enthused. “To me, that's the basis of everything we do, starting with our phenomenal base chip and then building off of it.
“Perfecting this authentically crafted, high quality chip is job one for our manufacturing partners. Then you carefully listen and study consumers to understand what they are craving so we can offer different variations of chips and dips to satisfy their palate and their sense of culinary adventure.”
Heat and Spice and Everything Scrumptious
Truco’s chip innovations are viewed through compelling flavor and ingredient lenses. Consumers are looking beyond traditional chip tastes for excitement, variety, and change as an appreciation of global cuisine takes root in the snacking space. “People travel now more than they ever did. We're a melting pot of different cultures in America, and they have very different taste preferences. People are much more experiential now about flavors than they ever have been. We want to surprise and delight them with our innovation,” Walsh said.
“Nurturing of the global palate is one big trend,” she continued. “The other is continued growth of hot and spicy foods. Everybody now is eating hot and spicy food. Our data shows one in four consumers increased their spicy food consumption last year. We’ve carved a unique niche for ourselves in those spaces.”
The other significant trend that continues to resonate with consumers is “better for you” products. As snacking increasingly becomes a meal replacement for many Americans, consumers are seeking options that have the taste they crave with less guilt. Making better choices, notes Walsh, is affecting the entire snack industry. “When people are snacking all day long, you want to be able to offer them a variety of options when they're trying to make that better choice. The majority of our products meet that need with clean labels, are gluten free and, in some cases, are also vegan,” she explained.
“We are launching a new line of organics as we go into 2019 that is based on our core fundamental Café chip, but really hits on the things that are most important to folks. In the ‘better for you’ space, there's a lot of products on the market that have all the certifications, but you would not want to eat them. A lot of them don't taste great. Again, everything for us starts with quality and taste. If you can develop the product in a way that enables you to organic certifications and it tastes great, you have a home run. A winning combination of great taste and certifications are what we have in our portfolio.”
As traditional grocery retail transforms to meet the heavy-duty competition driven by consolidation, the popularity of big value players such as Aldi, Lido, and Trader Joe’s that move massive amounts of private label goods, and the emergence of online grocers, the ability to compete opens a razor-thin window that only the very best can move through.
At PepsiCo, Walsh and her teams were availed of a treasure trove of data and analytics that could open those windows on command. Smaller firms can only salivate for those kinds of transformative insights. Fortunately, by bringing in high-powered partners such as CPGToolBox, a provider of impactful trade promotion management solutions, Truco is better positioned to compete for that precious sliver of shelf space.
In addition to innovative taste and quality, what Walsh hopes will move the brand into more store aisles is the power of relationships.
“(As a producer you must) make sure you have a connection with your consumer that is authentic and genuine and makes you get on the list before they even walk into the store.”
Getting On The Border on that crucial grocery list is a new partnership with Mexico’s legendary Tajín seasoning company, and the introduction of Taste of Tajín tortilla chips. The proprietary chili-lime seasoning is a table staple in Mexico, much like salt is here. According to company CEO Aldo Fernandez Castillo, "Tajín has grown in popularity across the U.S. with double-digit annual growth and household penetration of over 3.5 million." The success of Tajín is a concrete example of the growth of hot and spicy foods previously mentioned by Walsh.
Walsh is passionate about the potential in the move. “We love the fact that Tajín only uses high-quality peppers in their seasoning. For us, being a high-quality brand, knowing exactly what's in their bottle was most important to us. The success that they're having in the U.S. is very similar to ours — it's all about quality ingredients.”
Domestically, Tajín is typically found in the produce and seasoning aisles. In Mexico, however, consumers relish the spice on everything from fruit and veggies to meat, poultry, candy, even ice cream.
“Things that we can do together, like getting a consumer who is only buying the seasoning in the produce aisle and getting them to go into the center of the store for chips is a game-changer for retailers who want consumers shopping the whole store, not just the perimeter. That's a really exciting space for everyone, the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturer.”
Truco Enterprises is home to the On The Border® brand, which is the fastest growing brand in the Salty Snack aisle in the United States. Our chips, salsas, and quesos have become the “center of the snack” … and an essential staple in homes throughout the country.
With more than two decades of record-breaking growth, the On The Border® brand exemplifies benchmarks of excellence in product quality, efficient business practices, thought leadership, and its relentless pursuit of perfection. Quality, value, passion and integrity are the compass points for the company. Truco stands behind a promise to each and every customer, supply chain partner, and its employees.
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Dallas, TX 75367-1169