How this local business got a mass market retailer to stock their products
Walmart is in a pickle.
The box store will begin selling Pickle-Ice pops this July — something that the brined brains behind the frozen treats have been working toward for ages.
“We’ve called on Walmart for years, and finally sat in front of them with our Pickle-Ices about six months ago,” said Steve Byrnes, president of the Wisconsin-based Van Holten’s company, in an interview with Moneyish. “They seemed interested, but then it died off.”
Talk about gerkin someone around.
“Then a couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, they called up and said they’re going to put them in 700 stores to start in July,” said Byrnes. “It’s awesome. We are very excited.”
Van Holten’s has been hawking pickles for 118 years, Byrnes explained, with their patented Pickle-in-a-Pouch being their bread and butter. They sold 31 million of the pouched pickles last year, especially in the south. In fact, each of the last 12 years has been the best in company history.
“It’s not a super expensive snack,” Byrnes said. “And people are moving toward grab-and-go snacks, better-for-you snacks, so we’re doing well.”
But getting their sour slushies into Walmart, which saw $481.3 billion in net sales last year, is a big deal for their brand, even beyond making money.
“This helps legitimize our products, which are novelty items in some people’s minds,” said Byrnes. “Hopefully this will open the door to a lot of other retailers.”
A grab-and-go Pickle-in-a-Pouch makes sense for someone who wants a tart snack without lugging the entire pickle jar around.
But where did the Pickle-Ice come from?
“If you go to a Little League or soccer game, especially in the south, you’ll often see kids sucking on Dixie cups of frozen pickle juice. It’s a real thing,” explained Byrnes.
So Van Holten’s took the brine from its other pickle products, and added in extra electrolytes to make the pops appeal to athletes, who claim that pickle juice is good for alleviating cramps and boosting muscle recovery.
Van Holten’s launched Pickle-Ices in January 2016, which sell for 59 to 79 cents apiece at concessions stands, convenience stores, delis and some groceries. You can also bag a box of eight on Amazon for the inflated price of $14.99.
But soon shoppers will be able to snag Pickle-Ice for a song at around $2.99 per eight-pack at their local Walmart.
And yes, they taste how you’d expect.
“It’s exactly like opening a jar of pickles and drinking the juice,” he said. “But frozen.”
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