By Margaret Jackson | Mar 21, 2022
New Braunfels, Texas
Packaged pickles and peppers
Texas Tito's created a new product category when it released its first portion-packed jalapenos to the market in the mid-1990s.
When Walmart placed a "guaranteed" order, it seemed like the company was off to a good start. But when they didn't sell, the company was obligated to buy them back, and its original owner sold the company.
"Guaranteed sales are not guaranteed," says Snider, who purchased Texas Tito's in 2015 after working for the business' second owner for five years. "If they can't sell the product, you have to buy it back from them. The bigger the order, the bigger the liability."
Over the 12 years he's been involved, Snider has witnessed many changes in the company. The popularity of the jalapenos in a pouch proved so popular that the company added portion-packed cascabellas and other specialty peppers as well as a line of pickles that come in flavors such as Hot & Spicy Dill, Kosher Dill, and old-fashioned Jumbo Dill Pickles.
Many of the company's processes have become more automated since Snider joined the company. "It has changed from having a single machine to having multiple lines," he says. "We have a wider customer base as well."
Today, Texas Tito's products are shipped worldwide through a variety of regional, national, and international distributors and directly to retailers. The company's customers include convenience stores, movie theaters, schools, gyms, pizzerias, and stadiums.
Challenges: Packaging its pickles individually in juice or brine comes with a unique set of challenges. The company also is constantly trying to improve the sustainability of its packaging.
"Packaging liquids in flexible packaging presents unique challenges -- especially if they're going to be shelf-stable," Snider says. "We don't have the easiest product -- it's corrosive, liquid, high salt, and high acid. When it comes to packaging our product it isn't the easiest thing to do."
Opportunities: The pandemic boosted the market for sanitary portion-packed condiments, and demand for Texas Tito's products accelerated with it. "Customers moved away from open dispensing of bulk condiments, they moved away from salsa bars or having a big jar of jalapenos or pickles with tongs in there," Snider says.
The demand for single-servings of foods like peppers and pickles has created an opportunity for Texas Tito's to improve on its packaging. "We use a lot of plastics, and as they become more green and recyclable, there will be a wider acceptance among a more diverse group of consumers as well," Snider says. "We're working with forward-thinking suppliers who are on the leading edge of those technologies."
Needs: Texas Tito's needs more space, so it's doubling the size of its manufacturing facility from 20,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet. Snider expects the building to be completed late next year.
The cost of the project has nearly doubled in the last 18 months because of supply chain issues. "The price of everything has gone up," Snider says. "We do a fair amount of contract business, so we are not always able to raise our prices in response to increased commodity prices. There's not a single input where we've seen the price go down or even remain unchanged."
While the cost to build the facility has increased, the increased space will allow the company to warehouse more raw materials, which will work to its advantage. "When we know the price is going up on something, we'll be able to buy more of it and warehouse it," Snider says. "A new purpose-built facility will be a game-changer for us."