Sugar Land business competing for spot on H-E-B shelves

Texas Pickle Co. in Sugar Land was named a finalist in the 2016 Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best contest.

Texas Pickle Co. in Sugar Land was named a finalist in the 2016 Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best contest.

A husband and wife team from Sugar Land are competing to get their homemade pickles and mustard on H-E-B shelves around the state. Texas Pickle Co. was named one of 25 finalists July 27 in the company’s third annual H-E-B Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best contest.

The competition selects four Texas brands not already sold by the supermarket chain to be included at select stores. Texas Pickle Co. owners Tom and Jessica Weldin learned about the contest from friends and fellow vendors at the Farmers Market at Imperial in Sugar Land, where they have been selling since 2015.

Tom and Jessica Weldin own Texas Pickle Co. in Sugar Land. Tom and Jessica Weldin own Texas Pickle Co. in Sugar Land.[/caption]

“Our goal, basically, is to get into local stores,” Jessica Weldin said. “We’ve made it pretty far.”

The Weldins started pickling as a hobby but decided to form a business after small batches of their product proved popular. Aside from the farmers market, their pickles are also sold at Juice It Raw in Missouri City and Savory Spice Shop in Houston.

H-E-B received 500 entries from 101 Texas cities and judges narrowed the choices based on taste, flavor, customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential and differentiation from current H-E-B products, according to a company statement. Texas Pickle Co. makes garlic dill and habanero dill pickles—the latter of which Weldin said H-E-B liked the most—and mustard.

In addition to being stocked at company stores, H-E-B will award cash prizes: $25,000 for the grand prize, $20,000 for first prize, $15,000 for second prize, and $10,000 for third prize.

“Basically with the winnings … with HEB our plan is to use that to run out and get a bigger space,” she said.

The couple works out of a rented commercial kitchen in the Mamie George Community Center in Richmond, she said.

Weldin said she at least wants to sell Texas Pickle Co. at the Sugar Land H-E-B. Winners have some say in which of the company’s stores the product is sold, based on their production scale, said James Harris, H-E-B director, diversity and inclusion, supplier diversity.

“We realize a lot of the smaller companies don’t have as much money as the larger companies,” he said. “It depends on their capacity and [if] they’re ready to roll out.”

Winners will be chosen Aug. 10-11 at the Houston Food Bank.
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