(Shelf) Life of Reily: Food firm quietly marks 100 years of pantry presence
This is the time of year the folks at Reily Foods Co. start planning their summer assault on heat and thirst.
The English may have their bone china tea services, but Southerners and the makers of Luzianne iced tea blend have long known that one key to surviving the steam bath of summer in the South is with a tall glass of iced tea. Reily´s marketing push this time of year helps secure Luzianne´s place as one of the best-selling iced tea mixes in the country.
Reily Foods is also the maker of what some consider the mother of all coffee and chicory blends, CDM, plus other coffee blends roasted for sale under private store labels.
But to dismiss Reily Foods as solely an iced tea and coffee maker is to overlook the pantry of goods the company makes. In the past century, the quiet New Orleans company has amassed as many products as it has years in the food business. Among them: Abita Springs bottled water, Wick Fowler´s chili mixes, Blue Plate mayonnaise, Luzianne tea flavorings, La Martinique salad dressings and Swans Down cake flour for people who still bake from scratch.
While many of Reily Food´s products are well-known, the family-owned company is decidedly low-profile. And the family likes it that way, declining requests for media coverage of its various brands until this, its 100th anniversary.
Reily has survived for a century by changing the way it does business to suit the modern demands of grocery distribution and selling. To keep up with today´s challenges, Reily is navigating an industry that has shifted from regional mom-and-pop stores to national supermarket chains that demand fees just to let items take up precious shelf space among the 32,000 items an average supermarket carries.
A smaller manufacturer such as Reily Foods can remain viable if it´s able to meet consumers´ desires, said Stuart Armstrong, vice president at Euro RSCG Meridian, a marketing consulting firm in Westport, Conn. The company can play up its authentic New Orleans heritage and tastes to connect with consumers.