Marina Mayer, editor-in-chief of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods and the creator of the Best New Retail Products contest, talked exclusively with Roberto Escobar, co-founder and COO, to discuss the “winning” product and what’s in store for the future.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: First off, congratulations on placing THIRD PLACE in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2017 Best New Retail Products contest. Lezzetli Mediterranean Ice Cream nabbed 5,046 votes. What does this recognition mean to you, your company, your products and your consumers?
Roberto Escobar: Given that Lezzetli is a new category of ice cream and is just launching on the market, we are beyond thrilled to be in a group with so many trailblazing, major brands. It affirms for us that we’re bringing something new and innovative to the market, and that both the industry and consumers are interested in expanding the range of cultures and types of offerings represented in the frozen aisle.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: How did you go about accruing so many votes? What was your plan?
Escobar: Recruiting votes became a high priority for the full run of the competition. We used every digital marketing channel available to us, including social media and e-mail marketing, and promoted very regularly. We continuously reminded our fans that compared to the other brands in the running, we were the “little guy,” and we needed every bit of support we could get. We had a lot of people voting for us every day.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Your new retail product— Chewy Ice Cream—was nominated by Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ editor-in-chief, Marina Mayer. What features does this new product hold that would allow it to even be nominated?
Escobar: Lezzetli’s slightly chewy texture creates a new category in frozen dairy. The texture takes inspiration from the ice creams you can find in Turkey and the Levant. Important also, is that our flavors embrace unique ingredients like mastiha and orange blossom. We don’t shy away from these ingredients. We make them bold and prominent.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Lezzetli Mediterranean Ice Cream is said to be the first U.S. company to bring pints of chewy ice cream to market. This Chewy Ice Cream also combines ingredients found in Turkey, Greece and the Levant. What does this say about the future of the frozen dairy market?
Escobar: We’re starting to see the future of the ethnic food aisle questioned, as consumers demand more global offerings and flavors across every category. Foods and ingredients that were once exotic are becoming more familiar. We’re at the beginning of seeing this demand reflected in frozen dairy offerings as well, and we think the range and diversity of the category will only continue to grow, with Lezzetli being an example of that.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Why create this new product?
Escobar: First of all, we absolutely love this style of ice cream, and you can find variations of it across a huge portion of the globe. We think even more people should get to experience it, and we hope to expand the definition of ice cream in the United States. We also feel that, other than the rise of non-dairy alternatives, many innovations in frozen dairy have been all about flavor; while there is plenty of inspiration for innovation right in front of us, found in long-held traditions from the other side of the globe.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: What is on the horizon for your company come 2018?
Escobar: The product is still very new to the market, so we are focusing on continuing to grow and expand into new regions.