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Spice of Life: Thib’s salsa makes it to the big shelves

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 02, 2012 7:06 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Brian Thibodeaux likes to talk.

His penchant for starting — and sometimes carrying — a conversation is going to be useful as he embarks on a new business venture.

After 10 years of making Mexican-style red salsa for family and friends, Thibodeaux has officially begun hawking the condiment.

Thib’s Medium Cajun Salsa is on the shelves at Market Basket, Albertsons and Brown’s Food Center.

He recently talked his way into getting the product placed in Rouses Supermarkets in the New Orleans area.

“People always told me I should bottle it and sell it,” Thibodeaux said.

What the man is doing is impressive. He decided to make and sell a product in a highly competitive market. Salsas are like hot sauces — everybody’s got one.

Also, not all of them are good. That means a person has to make an impressive pitch, which Thibodeaux seems to have mastered already.

Let us not forget, he needs to have a good salsa.

Thib’s salsa is a nice treat for the palate, and it is not too liquidy. A chip holds its form and crunch when dipped in the concoction.

Also, the heat sensation on the tongue is mild and manifests itself after eating about a dozen chips.

“Fresh tomatoes and pickled jalapenos are the main ingredients in my salsa,” Thibodeaux said. “I also have other spices like onion and garlic.”

While talking to Thibodeaux about his offering, it dawned on me that the man jumped into the wild world of salsa for the joy of it.

He knew nothing about mass producing his salsa; packaging his salsa; transporting his salsa; and, least of all, marketing his salsa.

That is what makes his story so cool.

He is learning about the competitive food industry in real time and using guts and the gift of gab to grow his customer base.

“I am common folks. If this doesn’t work out, at least I tried. But I ain’t thinking of things not working out. This is full steam ahead,” he told me.

In case you are wondering, Thibodeaux progressed from making salsa in his Lake Charles kitchen to moving cases of the stuff in stores after long hours of research and meeting people who were interested in helping him.

Thibodeaux found a contract packer — a company that makes and packages a food product — and it linked him with an advertising company, which made the label for his salsa bottle.

After tweaking the recipe for public consumption, Thibodeaux got additional guidance from grocery store chains, which informed him of the companies that distribute food items to retail outlets.

His investment — to have the sauce made, label created and the barcodes bought — did not break the proverbial bank.

“Now, I got to get out and sell it because there are so many salsas out there,” he said.

I am sure he will not be at a loss for words, and as well he should not be.

•••

Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at ecormier@americanpress.com or 494-4090.

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