The demand for craft food is increasing even further after the effects of 2020, not only in the consumer space but also in the hospitality and HORECA space as the importance of provenance, community, and naturality strengthens.
Flavor solutions company, Fona International, defines craft foods as those deriving from a producer who uses traditional methods and ingredients to create a handcrafted product and has a connection and understanding of the end consumer. Their Insight Report on Craft Foods also shared that more than 50% of Millennials associate the term “craft” with high-quality, which is good news for craft brands like High Road who have built their business on well-sourced ingredients, innovative recipes and handcrafted frozen treats.
Upon speaking with Nicki Schroeder, Co-Founder of High Road, we learned more about their brand’s unique ability to create handcrafted products at scale, and how they successfully manage to balance their foodservice capabilities alongside their ever-growing retail presence. Continue reading below to find out more.
Getting the Scoop
Culinary professionals and founders of High Road Ice Cream, Nicki and Keith Schroeder created the brand in 2010 after noticing a gap in the market for high-end dessert and ice cream options. Adopting a brand name inspired by a Broken Bells song, the pair have since built their company into a team of more than 100 people with two plants in the US.
Part of the brand’s origin story saw the two founders knocking on doors of restaurants and working closely with chefs to create highly personalised ice creams that the chefs could pair with their food offerings. However, they soon realised that this method was difficult to scale and would limit the number of kitchens and homes around the world that they could bring their delicious ingredients and products to, so they made some changes and have since been listed on the Inc. 5000 list (a list showcasing the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the US based on the percentage of revenue growth) a whopping six times!
The Company credits their success on their strong belief that innovation is hugely important to the growth and success of any business, a belief that carries into their existing and future partnerships. A quick glance at their decadent portfolio is all you need to witness their commitment and expertise to innovation. High Road’s “make everything from scratch in-house” philosophy has proven to be a winning approach and their ability to create surprising flavor combinations is just one of the ways they attract consumers and partner with private label retail and foodservice clients across the US.
Perfecting the Pint
High Road create a wide variety of products and formats for both chefs and consumers. The brand currently boasts 13 flavors in their portfolio of ice cream pints including All The Berries And Some Cake Too; Bourbon Cherry Chocolate Chunk; Pralines Caramel And Cream; Roasted Coffee And Chocolate; Toffee Toasted Almond; and Vanilla Fleur De Sel.
The award-winning brand prides themselves on the fact that all of their products are made from scratch by their culinary team in their own facilities, which allows them to use only wholesome natural ingredients in their recipes, for example using only real fruit (no flavors) in their fruit-flavored pints.
Each 14oz pint currently sells at approximately $7 USD from their online store which ships to US customers nationwide, but they can also be found on the frozen shelves of key retailers across the United States including Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods, and Harris Teeter.
“The type of customer that we find is attracted to High Road ice creams are generally the neophiliacs of the world – those who like to explore, travel, and experience new flavors. Those are our kind of people.”
Customer discovery is a key element of their research, especially in export markets like the EU, where they often look to for innovation inspiration in terms of flavors and formats. It is evident from speaking with Nicki that the team thrives on learning more about their customers and partners from around the world, and they truly enjoy getting to work closely with other brands and suppliers. For example, they are hugely supportive and involved throughout the sourcing process with suppliers like their Mint farmer based in Oregon; and can also design creative collaborations based on a customer’s specific needs such as helping their national US airline client expand their first class dessert menu offering.
“Our airline customer came to us to see if we could create a unique single scoop ice cream to enable them to serve sundaes in first class and also tie in with their goal of showcasing the best of their Atlanta food producers and Chefs, and of course we said yes!”
When it comes to product and flavor inspiration for customers, the brand likes to get very creative. Their Strawberry & Espelette Swirl pint, winner of a 2021 Silver Sofi award, is a new flavor innovation this year that swirls strawberry ice cream with sweet cream and Espelette pepper to create a sweet and spicy experience. High Road know that flavor is king when it comes to the tasting experience and they have adapted their packaging and presentation to portray this by focusing on flavor first.
How can the INNODELICE network support High Road’s growth?
High Road are ready to work with new partners. They have recently acquired a plant in Wisconsin (USA) which will be their second facility and have a focus on producing larger format products. Their other facility is in Georgia, USA and is where they are currently looking to increase production and improve efficiencies to provide the highest quality at a competitive cost.
As a brand that have launched many new products and flavors during Covid, they are excited to show the food world what they can really do now that the world is reopening again. Their current objective is to expand their sales footprint in the US and beyond, and plan to do this by developing a better understanding of the global changes and trends in desserts nationally and internationally, so they will be looking for collaborations and conversations that can help them achieve this.
High Road are able to work with future partners from a marketing standpoint as well, supporting their partners needs such as sharing POS materials, helping to communicate the messaging, providing in-store merchandise etc.
“Our focus is and always has been on connecting with people on more of a personal level. Most of our business comes from simply being good partners, listening to our customers, and building strong relationships with those with whom we work.”
The team are open to conversations from all types of national and international partners as one of their primary ongoing goals is to develop a deeper understanding of what the needs are in different corners of the world.
How to start collaborating with High Road?
Are you interested in starting a conversation with the team behind High Road? We are able to facilitate that introduction for you. To get started, learn more about the High Road brand here on our website. To discuss potential partnership opportunities together, reach out to Nicolas on firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Andrea on email@example.com and we will connect you.
Founded by former executives in the Ice Cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors and suppliers can discover, buy and sell solutions to GROW their business. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products as well as innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimising their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Nicolas MARIE (firstname.lastname@example.org), Andrea MONTREUIL (email@example.com) or visit www.innodelice.com.