Before the “Avon Lady” there was the “Watkins Man,” or so customers dubbed independent consultants who began selling J.R. Watkins Co. products in 1868. Nearly 150 years later, the company’s spices and extracts are now vying for increasing space on retail shelves.
Since J.R. Watkins began selling his Watkins Original Liniment Oil, the eponymous company has expanded to offer a range of natural, environmentally friendly personal and home care products. Watkins is currently developing its food business with a focus on growing online, grocery and other retail sales.
Chicago-based research firm IRI reports that Watkins claimed a 5.4 percent share of the U.S. extract market over the last year. Spice giant McCormick & Co., which has long dominated the market, garnered 52 percent. Watkins is looking to continue growing market share and duplicate that retail success with its spice offerings, a line the company introduced in 1895.
In 2012, Watkins edged further into the $2 billion-and-growing spice market by adding a gourmet spice line to its conventional offerings. The company will also release its own dry seasoning mixes this fall.