When Carol Kurimsky joined Quaker Oats Co.'s Golden Grain subsidiary as director of new ventures in 1993, she wasn't necessarily looking to jump into the soup business.
But Ms. Kurimsky, 36, happened to really enjoy eating the Nile Spice line of unique, distinctly flavored dried soups-in-a-cup. So much so that she investigated and found the then owner, Nadim Spahi, was looking to sell.
Well, Ms. Kurimsky, via Quaker, bought. And she was soon named director of the business, which had 1994 sales of $30 million.
Started in 1983 as a purveyor of low-sodium spices to health-food stores, the brand was expanded into dried soups three years later. Nile Spice since has dropped the spices and markets three lines of soup cups: a 15-item "homestyle" line, a five-item cous-cous line and five organic vegetable soups.
"What stood out about Nile Spice is that the line seems very oriented toward the current trends," says Ms. Kurimsky. "They allow you to eat a very low-fat, low-calorie but very high-taste product that can be prepared within five minutes."
Moreover, she says, Nile Spice soups contain "forward spices, tastes that people are evolving to." That includes black bean salsa soup; red beans and rice soup; chili and corn soup; sweet corn chowder and carrot dill soup.
The positioning is a hit with Generation Xers, especially young working women concerned about fat intake. According to Information Resources Inc., Nile Spice posted sales gains of more than 17% through the first two months of 1995. Since Nile Spice is distributed mainly through health food stores and warehouse clubs, unmeasured by IRI, that's just the tip of the broth.
Ms. Kurimsky now plans to make the brand even better known, through consumer advertising. She's cooking up a campaign with Young & Rubicam, San Francisco.