The Taste Of New Mexico In A Subscription Box

Entrepreneurs are sometimes inspired to create companies based on a place where they have strong ties: Eric Smith was born as well as raised in New Mexico and co-founded Nuevo Food Box, which offers a subscription box of food highlighting the flavors of the state. His wife, Jordan, was recruited for University of New Mexico basketball for the Lady Lobos. They met in the state, but they had to move away for work (and life).

They then noticed it was hard to find a piece of their culinary lives in other places. Smith said the food they loved — and the food culture of the state — didn’t exist in other places. “[It’s] very hard to find some of the tastes and some of the flavors that we loved in New Mexico in other states,” especially states outside the Southwest, Eric told PYMNTS in an interview. The couple, in turn, decided to tackle the challenge.

To help consumers access these flavors, the couple created a subscription box that highlights four to five items from around the state and sends new items every month to people throughout the United States. The box’s selections range from products such as a salsa to a chile sauce. “We’ve … grown the idea into just giving people a little bit of authentic and traditional,” Eric said. He also noted the service features some unique items “that maybe even native New Mexicans have never tried before.”

The Subscription Offering

Smith said the company has worked with around 40 vendors based in New Mexico and is looking for those flavors one can’t find in other places. “We tried to find vendors that weren’t in grocery stores anywhere else,” Smith said. The aim is to make sure that the selections meet the standard of giving people a “little taste of New Mexico.” The company features items such as salsa, green chile sauce as well as green chile popcorn and red chile jam.

The company offers month-to-month plans and three-month prepay plans that let consumers cancel, pause or auto-renew. However, shoppers get a bit of a discount if they prepay. As it stands, the  PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index found that 95 percent of the top performers in 4Q 2018 offered plan changes. The same share of top performers offered plan options. For Nuevo Food Box, those options extend beyond shoppers buying subscriptions for themselves.

Consumers can alternatively purchase subscriptions as gifts for others: The company offers a one-month and a three-month option for those customers. Smith said most gift subscriptions are for three months, which “gives people a chance to get that variety.” And for regular subscriptions, Smith said the month-to-month offering is a popular option. The company runs its back end on Cratejoy and payments through Stripe.

To spread the word about the service, Jordan has been using social media by finding people who have an interest in foods from New Mexico. Jordan said searching recipe groups on Facebook has been “huge” and she has posted recipes. Jordan noted that they have also let her post links to the website and people are starting to get interested. In addition, she said, the company has recently received attention from local media.

The Subscription Market

When people come back home to visit family, Eric said they take extra suitcases and fill them up with New Mexican food to take away. “There’s a kind of a tradition of going into Albuquerque and trying to load up as much as you can,” Eric said. (With his service, they can presumably choose to skip the suitcases on their next trips.) One of the videos on the company’s Facebook page, for instance, highlights this trend.

Eric said it’s “probably well overdue” that someone started shipping out subscriptions of food from New Mexico, with consumers asking for some way to get that kind of cuisine for a long time. He also noted that consumers understand the business model, which has been a big win for the company. Beyond Nuevo Food Box, food startups have been tapping into the subscription model for everything from pet food to fresh produce.

Entrepreneurs behind subscription startups are also coming together to connect: Eric said an online community through the subscription school gave the company a starting point to meet with subscription company owners regularly locally in Austin. Entrepreneurs with strong regional ties, then, aren’t only starting subscription services because of their roots: They come together to form strong bonds over their shared interest in the business model, too.


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