An empty space is all that greeted customers searching for Zest mustard pickles at Colemans at the Gardens in Corner Brook on Monday.
Judy Bennett wouldn’t “spill all the pickles,” but there will soon be a new mustard pickle on the shelves at Colemans grocery stores in the province if everything goes according to plan.
Bennett, public relations for Colemans, said the company is working with a pickle maker to offer up an exclusive Colemans brand of mustard pickles.
The plan comes from the public outcry over Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. decision to discontinue its popular Zest and Habitant brands of mustard pickles. While both are sold in Atlantic Canada, Zest has the firm presence and preference in Newfoundland, and Habitant is the Quebec favourite.
“In Newfoundland the Zest was the one that Newfoundlanders really were accustomed to the taste of it, and liked the taste of it and were loyal to that brand.
Smucker Foods is still going to have a mustard pickle as the western Canadian Bicks brand will now be sold coast to coast. “It’s just it won’t be a Zest mustard pickle. It’ll be the Bicks’ recipe, and the Bicks’ bottle and the Bicks’ flavour,” said Bennett.
Colemans did have some advance knowledge of Smucker’s plan to discontinue the Zest brand, which led the company to talk about getting into an exclusive line.
“But at the time I guess we really underestimated the loyalty to that brand and didn’t feel that it was going to turn into the circus that it has.”
When word hit late last week that the Zest mustard pickles would be no more, a buying frenzy occurred.
On Monday Bennett said there were still bottles floating around at some of Colemans 11 stores and four partner stores, but supplies were limited.
“So basically what we have now is all that we have.”
That is until the company can work everything out to bring the new mustard pickles to the shelves. Things like the labelling, supply needs and UPC coding.
But the most important thing — the taste — seems to have already been mastered.
A taste testing, pitting the new pickle against the favourite Zest, was held on Friday. “And everyone loved it. It’s way better than the Zest pickle.”
The company has done some preliminary promotion on Facebook and Twitter and gauging from the reaction Bennett is expecting a lot of interest in the new mustard pickle, not just at local stores, but also online.
“I’m always shipping products all over Canada from cheesies to seal pelts. I get asked to send all kinds of stuff,” she said.
“I think once this new pickle hits more than just Newfoundlanders in Newfoundland will want to try it. I think we’re going to get requests from the Mainland as well.”