Nona Lim Soups, Broths and Noodles
Nona Lim makes delicious dairy and gluten-free Asian-inspired, soups, broths, noodles using fresh, local, and organic ingredients in Northern California. Nona Lim is “committed to offering clean, plant-rich food that is Closest to Whole™, and as close as you can get to making it in your own kitchen.”
- In what year did your company begin operation?
- How do you define success? Are you “there” yet?
The Nona Lim brand is mission driven to make it possible for busy people to attain their highest diet ideals with convenient clean label foods with amazing flavor. As a national brand sold coast to coast, there is much success to celebrate. We are “there” in terms of fulfilling the goals of a few years ago but we aren’t finished yet. We need to reach a lot more people who want healthy, convenient and delicious meals like ours.
- How long did it take to be successful? What challenges did you face in establishing your company? What problems did you encounter in the initial roll-out and on-going production?
The Nona Lim brand had a major breakthrough in 2012. It switched from an online healthy meal ordering model of food detoxes to rolling out a retail line of our popular soups. Our customers had been requesting more soups so we knew we had a winner. When it comes to specialty food, a winning recipe is crucial. With that pivot, we grew quickly into a national brand of healthy foundations for everyday occasions across the country.
- How long did it take to initially roll-out of your product line (months or years?) and how much did it cost? ($5,000? $20,000? or more?) What kind of funding was available to you?
It took many years to roll out the product line we have today. Finding our niche was an evolving project that adapted to customers’ needs. And every rollout has been different. We started with a product line with local offerings and we were able to launch the full line with our own funding resources.
We are launching our new products nationally using investment funding to leverage expansion on a larger scale. Funding depends on where we are in the business cycle.
- Please share your insights and advice for new to industry companies.
Stay true to your vision! The Nona Lim brand was the first to market a soup without preservatives or additives to retail shelves. To do that, we introduced a refrigerated product. A majority of industry insiders said it couldn’t be done. It simply wasn’t where soup was sold.
But being a refrigerated product with clear, clean labeling was what made the Nona Lim brand unique and special. It grew quickly. We never would have done it if the vision wasn’t to be 100% natural. We followed our vision to a whole new way of selling soup in a new section of the store.
- What is your organizational “Vision”? Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? Describe it in the present tense (as if you were reporting from the year 2027).
“It’s 2027 and Nona Lim has come a long way. The brand is known as a healthy foundation for everyday eating occasions. It has Asian spiced soups, broths, noodles and other mix-and-match lunch and dinner foundations. These make it possible to put a healthy and delicious meal together quickly. They also have a line of Soup and Broth Heat & Sip Cups that were a leader in making the now thriving savory beverage category an everyday pick-me-up at the office. Nona Lim has continued to innovate and its many fans look to it to support living and eating according to their highest diet ideals.”
- Did you exhibit this product at the SFA Fancy Food Show? How would you define your exhibitor experience? What was your total investment (booth, travel, drayage, promotion, etc?)
Winning a Gold sofi award at the 2015 Summer Fancy Foods was a business milestone that is still reaping business benefits. People know about these respected awards and building a reputation in this community helps open so many doors.
Of course, participating in any trade show takes serious investment in time and resources. Recent participation in a SFA Fancy Food Show costs between $6,000-$12,000 depending on travel and other optional promotional expenses, including a new, eye-catching booth designs.
But ultimately, there is no replacement for knowing your buyers and meeting with them face-to-face. Being able to sample buyers at top retail target accounts and to describe the brand vision is more impactful than sending an email or picking up the phone as a brand intro.
- How does membership and participation in the SFA Shows impact your business? Please share your positives and negatives. Will you be participating in either of the 2017 SFA Shows?
Membership in the SFA has been great for the Nona Lim brand. First, when we won a Gold Sofi award, the SFA’s marketing, PR and relationships gave very real support to the brand by celebrating our win. Second, it’s a community. The longer we’ve presented at shows and given back, the more the community trusts our brand and brings amazing opportunities to the table.
In 2017 we will exhibit at both SFA Fancy Food Shows.
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