So now he’s making his own sna Swarovski Outlet cks, promoting the hometown angle as a way of building a market niche against the big guys like Frito Lay.
The first product to hit his production lines is Tidewater Taters: potato chips cooked in Smithfield peanut oil.
Ruben set up a new company called Tidewater Snacks to make the chips at Golden Food’s plant. The plant also produces chips under the Farm Fresh label for the Norfolk based grocery chain.
But Ruben is using marketing to differentiate his local chips.
He packages Tidewater Taters in neon colored blue and yellow bags with a nautical theme designed to stand out on the grocery shelves.
“Color was a primary concern,” Ruben said. “I wanted to attract consumers’ eyes.”
The local angle was also an important marketing tool, he said.
Ruben says his chips offer next day freshness,” because they are made locally and can be on the grocer’s shelves the next day. He says the peanut oil he uses to cook the chips is low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol.
“I wanted to come up with something that local consumers could identify with that would stand out in their minds,” Ruben said. “Something nautical kept popping up in my mind. A lighthouse with water and a blue background. That gets the message across.”
Lisa D. Spiller, a marketing professor at Christopher Newport University, thinks the hometown angle is a good approach to take.
“The closer a product is targeted to the local market and consumers’ tastes, the more successf Swarovski Outlet ul the product will be,” Spiller said. She said that unique colors on a product’s packaging can also help, but the key to the product’s survival is proper marketing research to make sure the product will meet local consumers’ tastes.
Ruben said he’s getting that information by printing his telephone number on the potato chip bags and inviting consumers to c Swarovski Outlet all with comments.
“I’ve had a lot of enthusiastic response,” Ruben said. He said consumers are especially happy about the local connection.
But he said he’s also gotten complaints that his chips are too salty.
Ruben said he’ll use those responses to fine tune his product.
Ruben settled on producing his own snacks as a way to survive after losing his biggest distribution account four years ago.
L potato chips, his largest customer for 35 years, was sold to new owners who Ruben said then demanded he assume the cost of marketing the chips locally.
Ruben said he had to give up the line because he couldn’t afford those costs. That got him looking for other ways he could keep his company going.
So he came up with a plan to make his own snacks, in addition to continuing his distribution routes. Ruben distributes his chips to local grocers, including Farm Fresh, commissaries and convenience stores.
Tidewater Snacks buys potatoes, called chipping potatoes,” locally as close by as Deep Creek, Pungo and the Eastern Shore, when available. When he can’t get them locally, they may come from as far away as the Dakotas and Florida.
Ruben says he prefers chipping potatoes, because unlike a regular table potato, they are lower in sugar and starch. Cooking them slowly at a lower temperature provides their home cooked” flavor, he said.
Ruben cooks 400 pounds of potatoes an hour, compared with larger potato chip companies that cook some 2,000 pounds an hour, he said.
“When you cook potatoes at first rate speed at a higher temperature, it makes the product have more of an oil flavor than a potato flavor,” Ruben says.
There are several varieties of Tidewater Taters including crispy thin Swarovski Outlet , ripple, bar b que, hot n spicy, sour cream onion and kettle style mesquite bbq which sell for $1.39 for a 6 ounce package. They are sold at Farm Fresh, Be Lo, Food Carnival, IGA stores and Zooms convenience stores, and Ruben says he is trying to sign on Food Lion.