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Anthony Brent's hot sauces are now sold in The Restaurant Marketplace, a brick-and-mortar store for restaurateurs, as well as the public, to shop wholesale prices.
Tawnie Wilson | SBJ
Anthony Brent's hot sauces are now sold in The Restaurant Marketplace, a brick-and-mortar store for restaurateurs, as well as the public, to shop wholesale prices.

Business Spotlight: It’s in the Sauce

A hobbyist cook turned entrepreneur goes all in on hot sauce

Posted online

The recipe for startup Springfield Trading Co. contains healthy servings of barbecue competitions and a dash of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic.

Creator Anthony Brent says the idea of turning his cooking hobby into a business venture began to take shape in 2020 with some idle time at home – and then he let it simmer.

A couple years later, his first small-batch hot sauces emerged at Farmers Market of the Ozarks, and now Springfield Trading Co. products are sold at retailers around the city – and from the San Francisco Bay Area to a borough of New York City. The sauces and seasonings also are used by area chefs and sit on dining tables at about 10 local restaurants for patrons to add a kick or unique flavor to their favorite dishes.

Springfield Trading Co.’s signature sauce – and Brent’s first recipe – is a spicy garlic, but he’s created several others, including the savory, sweet and tangy Everything Sauce and one called Verde Magic. There are also two dry seasonings in the mix.

“There wasn’t a pivotal moment except me just being trapped in the house during COVID,” Brent says on starting up. “I like cooking.”

Brent says he began to experiment with his brisket sauce: “If we turned that a little bit different, that would make a great dipping sauce. If we added a little honey mustard, that turned into the Everything Sauce.”

By mid-2022, he was bottling and selling the sauces, starting with the Farmers Market. Revenue in those first six months tallied $17,000, he says, but more importantly word began to spread and the products suddenly were on the radar of the country’s largest outdoor retailer.

“I woke up to an email from Bass Pro,” he says of the Springfield-based retail giant.

Four Bass Pro Shops executives told him they used his sauces in their home kitchens and they wanted to meet at the headquarters, get to know him and carry his products in their stores.

Since that meeting in fall 2022, Bass Pro now carries Springfield Trading Co. sauces in a dozen stores around the country.

The next year, his company’s first full year in business, Brent says Springfield Trading Co. revenue was $179,000.

The company is now part of a growing $244.5 billion sauces and condiments market in the United States, according to a 2023 valuation by Global Market Insights. The market report projects a 5.6% compound annual growth rate through 2032.

Analysts in the report say, “Consumers are looking for ready-made sauces and condiments that may enhance the taste of their meals with less effort due to busy lifestyles and a desire for various and international flavors.

“As a result, manufacturers are innovating with new flavors, healthier options and package designs to satisfy consumers’ growing tastes and preferences.”

Co-packer key
A key for Brent keeping up with the early volume is a co-packer contract with a company in Florida.

“It took us a couple years to find us a good co-packer that would bottle and manufacture our hot sauce on a higher level,” he says of the process before launching in 2022.

The company, which he declines to name for competitive reasons, takes the ingredients, mixes the recipes, bottles it up and handles distribution.

“There are a couple ways to start a hot sauce company or any type of condiment company,” Brent says.

One way is investing a couple million dollars in the pre-revenue phase to hire staff, establish a manufacturing and warehouse facility, and earn Food and Drug Administration approval.

“A second route is you find a co-packer. They already have the staff (and) the certifications with the state and with the FDA,” he says. “It streamlines the process, but at the same time you lose some margins.”

Brent has made an effort to set up his products for wholesale purchases in unconventional ways. One is placement on, an online wholesaler for over 100,000 independent brands. Since joining the online portal two months ago, Brent says he’s added nine retailers, including Garlic Braids in California and Jubilee Market and Prospect Butcher Co. in Brooklyn.

Most recently, he struck a deal in town with The Restaurant Marketplace, a brick-and-mortar store for restaurant owners and operators, as well as the public, to shop wholesale prices. Developed in partnership by Fellers Food Service and SGC Foodservice, the 17,000-square-foot shop opened on West Grand Street in 2020, says Lucus Setterfield, the manager of sales and operations.

The marketplace allows Springfield Trading Co. to go head-to-head with hot sauce titans Frank’s, Louisiana and Cholula. It’s also a potential shortcut on distribution.

“He wants to make it easier for some of his restaurants to be able to get it,” Setterfield says.

Springfield Trading Co.’s products began selling there Jan. 15, and Setterfield says a few bottles sold the first week.

“I’ve tasted a lot and worked with a lot of ingredients, small purveyors. The best version of things are small batch, almost always,” says Setterfield, who has industry experience as an executive chef in Little Rock, Arkansas, and at Downstream Casino Resort. “This product, the design, the flavor really speaks to the quality that Anthony is doing. I like the fact he built it.”

Other local retailers that carry Brent’s products are Maschino’s, 417 Charcuterie, The Grill Guys and Horrmann Meats. He says it’s also on the dining tables at Amigos Mexican Restaurant, Farmers Gastropub and Retro Metro, among others.

Brent says the naming was intentional because he wants the brand to be connected to the city he started in.

“There’s almost a Springfield in every state, and I wanted Springfield to be No. 1, the No. 1 Springfield,” he says. “We wanted to be one of those things, when you go to Springfield, you have to go to Bass Pro Shops, get some Andy’s and maybe stop at Askinosie Chocolate. But before you leave, you have to get some hot sauce.”


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