At the start of this year, the firm launched the world’s first grab and go soup in a heatable bottle. The product claims to be “answering the needs of the time poor, busy consumer who care about their health and wellbeing.”
It says its soups are “plant-based, packed with vitamins and minerals, low fat, gluten free, source of fibre, no artificial preservatives, no additives and no added sugar and taste delicious. Our bottle is also fully recyclable. We are a soup filled with purpose.”
How did the firm come about? “I was a cardiac nurse for seven years at UCH a busy London hospital. I then trained as a reflexologist and took a course in nutrition,” explained Clarke. “Then in 2010 I founded one of the first fresh food delivery companies called Nourished.”
It was from here that she realised there was a huge demand for her soup. “I felt there was this untapped market,” she said. In 2016 she flew to Los Angeles and New York to investigate the soup landscape. At this time, fruit juice drinks had just exploded onto the UK market. However, she discovered that US consumers were turning their back on juice and its high sugar content and instead drinking soup.
Message in a bottle
The US visit inspired her to launch her soup in bottle form and disrupt the UK market.
“The soup landscape is really antiquated in the UK,” she told FoodNavigator. “I decided I wanted this soup in a bottle so it could be grab and go.”
It then took time and a “big financial risk” to create a bottle that could be microwavable. “The company was founded in May 2018. It took nine months to finally get the bottle made, branded and filled with our delicious soup. We launched to the public in January 2019,” explained Clarke.
The selling point of soup in a re-heatable bottle is that it can be eaten hot or cold on the go. It can be opened, re-sealed, and put back in a bag. This can’t be done with other soups, according to Clarke.
“I felt this was an untapped market – you couldn’t put soup in your bag. I felt that the consumer – if it was out there – would feel this would a really healthy and flexible option for them. Its giving them the benefit that they can put the soup in your bag. They can drink it on the go. And you can have our soups hot or cold. Straight from the bottle if you want. That’s disrupting a big lunch market where there’s not the option to take a bottle of soup and put it in and out of your bag.”
Souping – the new juicing
The Re:Nourish branding is sparse and quite similar in appearance to juice bottles. The idea is to tap into the very on-trend ideals of transparency and clean label.
“Souping is the new juicing,” says Clarke. “We’re black and white: That’s our core value. We’ve got a clear bottle because we’ve got nothing to hide. We didn’t want any gimmicks with our branding. We just wanted you to see in this clear bottle that there was goodness in it. And also, with black and white, we wanted that standout factor.”
“We’re proud to let you know that every soup is: vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, a source of fibre, with no artificial preservatives, no additives and no added sugar. We are also vegan but we choose not to say that. We don’t want to confine ourselves by saying we’re vegan and we did a lot of research telling us that of we put vegan on it people wouldn’t think it wouldn’t taste that good.”
Each of the soups contains an extra micro ingredients, or a ‘Souper Star’. One, for example, is ginger, which is added to its roasted carrot flavour and labelled as a digestion aid. Another is maca, native to Peru, which has traditionally been used to enhance fertility, sex drive and stamina.
“We are not adding these micro ingredients in a powdered form and masking them in sugar,” explains Clarke. “We are clear in our bottle and in our look. That’s what we’re all about – we have absolutely nothing to hide.”
Clarke is passionate about health, as you would expect from a former cardiac nurse.
“Three million people in the UK have type 2 diabetes. If you put rubbish into your body, it’s not going to serve you well,” she says. “My experience in nursing brought home just how important it is to eat good, nutritious food. Food that is free of any sugary and artificial nasties that are so detrimental to our health.”
She wanted the soup to have no sugar and “be as close as possible to a soup you’d make at home”.
Re:Nourish soups have a RRP of £2.80. This is in line with other fresh soup products. However, it is smaller at 500g. “Research tells us that 500g is the perfect sized portion of soup,” said Clarke. “The research said that with a 600g bottle, guys were drinking all of it but girls wouldn’t finish it and would throw some away. We don’t want wastage and it’s a fully recyclable bottle. We want you to either reuse or recycle it.”
Re:Nourish launched straight into Planet Organic and some independent shops in London. Big retailers -- and one big coffee chain -- are interested in stocking the product in the UK. Clarke has hopes of eventually going international.
“Because we’re a fresh company the logistics could be difficult, but eventually we see ourselves in the US and as a global brand. We’re definitely up for disrupting.”
The firm is being assisted by John Stapleton, the serial entrepreneur who has built up and sold food brands, most notably the New Covent Garden Soup Company.
One challenge they face is the acceleration of private label in supermarkets. Key to countering this is getting to market quickly, says Clarke, and pushing the aforementioned values of authenticity.
“The bottle is patented so can’t be copied… but it’s very difficult to bring a new product to retail and for them not to try copy you. I think the consumer should be allowed to make their own minds. As long as we can get our product on the shelf we’re very confident with our product.”
Taste is crucial too. “People tell us it doesn’t taste like soup,” said Clarke. “People are used to that own-label, from the same manufacturer, all tasting the same. And what was so revolutionary about New Covent Garden soup when they first came to market was they tasted like soup that you made yourself – and that’s what we’ve gone back to. Not this mass-produced soup that tastes bland. We taste really good.”
Next up is a new flavour launch: a light summer soup ideal for eating either hot or cold. “It’s a huge challenge when you’re going up against big brands and you’re disrupting. We’re not standing still."