Bite-Size Fortune

Bite-Size Fortune

Stephanie Jo Klein

Taste of Nature enjoys sweet profits by making its own candy

SOME MIGHT THINK IT ODD that a company named Taste of Nature pulls in its biggest profits with prepackaged, sugary confections called Cookie Dough Bites. But it made good business sense to co-owners Scott Samet, 30, and Douglas Chu, 31, who were wise enough to form their sales strategy — and the way they do business — to reflect changing market demand.

When Taste of Nature started, in 1992, the Beverly Hills-based company bought healthful snack foods, like trail mix, yogurt-covered pretzels, and dried fruit, and then sold them in movie theaters, allowing patrons to dish up the amount they wanted and pay by the scoop. But not wanting to limit potential sales, Samet and Chu reexamined the market. Besides reselling health food, they added scoopable sweets to their product line. “We thought it was important to be flexible,” says Chu. While business picked up, the two entrepreneurs soon understood that the real money was not so much in reselling as in manufacturing the candy. “Selling prepackaged items opens up new avenues for us,” says Samet.

Adopting a production process was surprisingly easy. Good relationships with distributors led to manufacturing contacts and help in carving out a special niche in the candy market — one that companies like M&M Mars and Hershey’s weren’t already occupying.

Today Samet, Chu, and five employees manufacture three flavors of Cookie Dough Bites. The products come in handy snack sizes and are sold in movie theaters, convenience stores, and Blockbuster video stores nationwide. The owners’ market-savvy attitude has given new life to Taste of Nature. Annual sales should hit $5 million this year. Now, that’s the sweet taste of success.

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