Executives from IRI, Geometry Global and Integer will deliver presentations on the current state of snacking and what trends are shaping the future at the 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo, hosted by the National Confectioners Association. The snack-focused sessions will take place at the trade show’s new Discovery Theater located in Skyline Hall. The Sweets & Snacks Expo will take place May 24-26 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.
“In addition to the business done on the show floor, we want to provide Expo attendees with the latest insights they can use to make informed business decisions,” said Barry Rosenbaum, Expo Chairman and President of Nassau Candy Distributors, Inc. “With snacking clearly on the rise, we feel strongly that these category thought leaders will provide attendees with a unique learning experience.”
IRI’s Sally Lyons Wyatt, Executive Vice President & Practice Leader, client insights will present on the state of the snack industry, providing the latest research on segment growth and opportunity development. Lyons Wyatt is an authority on consumer eating and shopping trends with more than 25 years of industry experience.
Geometry Global’s Director of Multicultural, John V. Burn, will examine how shifting demographics will impact shopping behavior over the next five years and specifically its impact on the snack category. Burn’s experience on multi-cultural snacking includes serving as managing director Brazil for SAB Miller in Latin America and general manager for Travel Retail of Diageo.
The Integer Group’s Craig Elston, Executive Vice President, Insight & Strategy will provide attendees with insights on how the growth of online purchasing can be an opportunity for the candy and snack industry. Elston, having spent a vast majority of his career in integrated strategy roles, will share the latest online shopper research and how brands and retailers can capitalize on burgeoning trends.
NCA’s 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo will set an all-time record in volume of confectionery and snack products with more than 720 companies showcasing nearly four acres of product innovation. The show floor expanded into a second hall, the new Skyline Hall, to accommodate the growing exhibitor base and plans to welcome more than 16,000 industry professionals from nearly 90 countries.
Category experts from Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Inc., Canadean, Center for Advancing Retail & Technology, LLC, Consumer Technology Association, Natural Marketing Institute and Progressive Grocer are also set to speak at the new Discovery Theater.
For more information, visit sweetsandsnacks.com.
Dusted Dark Chocolate and Jalapeño are SkinnyPop Popcorn’s newest flavors, adding to an existing portfolio of four popular flavors, including Original, White Cheddar, Sea Salt & Pepper and Naturally Sweet. Both new flavors bring diverse fresh tastes to the ready-to-eat popcorn category, Dusted Dark Chocolate presents a perfect balance of light yet dark, sweet yet salty, and Jalapeño appeals to fans looking to add a hint of spicy to their better-for-you snacking choices.
“We’re excited to roll out these two new special flavors, particularly since they will really ‘pop’ among the ready-to-eat popcorn category,” shares Amplify Snack Brands President and Chief Executive Officer, Tom Ennis. “Dusted Dark Chocolate and Jalapeño complement our entire SkinnyPop portfolio nicely, now offering fans an indulgent sweet flavor and subtle spicy kick.”
Both new flavors are available in 4.4-ounce bags at retailers nationwide.
popchips inc. has announced one of the company’s boldest product innovations to date with the introduction of an entirely new product line called Ridges. popchips spent several years experimenting with its innovative process of combining heat and pressure to create an extraordinarily crunchy and bold tasting ridged chip. The new Ridges line rolls out to retailers nationwide in June in four taste bud-tempting flavors: salted, tangy barbeque, cheddar & sour cream and chili cheese.
“The new Ridges product was created to appeal to consumers who love crunch in their chips,” said popchips CEO Dave Ritterbush. “The texture of Ridges allows the boldness of our flavors to shine and delivers a big crunch you wouldn’t expect from a chip that is never deep fried. For the first time ever, there’s a big crunch, bold flavor ridged chip that tastes every bit as good as deep fried but with significantly less fat and calories.”
popchips found that seven out of 10 better-for-you shoppers were seeking more crunch in their snacking, which Ridges were specifically created to deliver. What’s more is that chip for chip, popchips Ridges contain 72 percent less fat and 55 percent less calories than the leading ridged chip brand. They are also gluten-free, kosher, contain no artificial preservatives, no synthetic colors, no cholesterol and zero grams of trans fat.
In addition to the launch of Ridges, popchips is simultaneously introducing entirely new packaging for the brand, prominently pronouncing flavor front and center. Ridges packaging will be black, a stark contrast to original popchips, which will now feature off-white packaging. Both will have bright pops of color and graphic imagery. The brand created the new packaging to give original popchips and Ridges their own unique look, while making it easy for consumers to differentiate between the two on shelf.
Ridges will be available in both a single-serve bag and a share bag at leading retailers nationwide. In addition to the four new Ridges flavors, original popchips come in nine delicious varieties: sea salt, barbeque, crazy hot, sour cream & onion, sea salt & vinegar, sweet potato, cinnamon twist sweet potato and organic kettle corn.
Resolutions to eat healthier remain intact at this time of year, and fans of salty snacks have a new reason to celebrate with the introduction of Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods’ new Real Thin™ Pop line of ready-to-eat popcorn. Featuring premium oils, including olive, avocado and coconut, and seasonings that are applied with a revolutionary new method (compared to traditional tumble mixing) results in a full-flavor snack experience that has remarkably fewer calories and fat than the leading popcorn brands.
Boulder Canyon Real Thin Pop stands apart from the numerous guilt-free salty snacks on the market today not only because of its rare combination of full-flavored taste and low-calorie impact, but the fact that this has been achieved using only real food ingredients and a minimally-processed approach to manufacturing.
Available in three varieties, including Olive Oil/White Cheddar, Avocado Oil/Sea Salt and Coconut Oil/Sea Salt, Real Thin Pop arrives at leading grocery stores and supermarkets nationwide this month with a suggested retail price of $3.99 per 4.15-ounce bag. Each package contains four servings.
By Lorrie Baumann
If you happen to see Aaron Anker tooling around at the wheel of a Volkswagen bus, don’t let good manners keep you from calling him a granola to his face. He won’t mind. “We are who we are,” he says. “We make granola, but we also drive our VW buses, and when you meet our staff, you’ll know why we have all been called granolas at some time in our life. We are authentic. We are who we say we are.”
Anker is a co-owner and Chief Granola Officer at GrandyOats, a Maine maker of organic cereals and snacks that’s just finished its third straight year with more than 25 percent annual growth. Over the past year, the company achieved 28 percent growth and made 1.2 million pounds of organic granola, trail mix and roasted nuts and generated $5.3 million in sales.
GrandyOats is also just settling into a state-of-the-art 100 percent solar powered facility that will make the company the first net zero food production facility in New England. The new facility is located in Hiram, Maine, where it’s adding 21 to the only 39 jobs currently existing in the town of Hiram. “We are literally in the mountains, in the hills of Maine, way off the beaten path…. One of the things that’s happening in rural New England is that there isn’t much economic growth and people are migrating to the cities. A lot of these towns don’t have much going on,” Anker says. “We really enjoy being able to employ people. We get people who are excited to join us, who are excited to be part of the company…. We’re helping the community grow. It’s a really nice feeling.”
Anker joined the company in 2000 after co-owner and Head Honcho, Nat Peirce, a college friend from the University of New Hampshire bought the company and invited him to join the partnership. The two have pursued their goals of creating a healthy, good place for people to work and keeping the organic integrity of their products. Their ownership of the company and a strategy of gradual growth and reinvestment in the business frees them from having to meet investor goals as well, Anker says.
When GrandyOats outgrew its previous facility and Anker and Peirce went looking for new premises that would allow them to fulfill a dream of powering their operations with solar energy, they were fortunate to find a disused elementary school made available by consolidation of the local school district. The 8.5-acre site included more than an acre of space where the students used to play soccer and kickball and that’s now used as the site for 288 solar panels that are expected to produce an average of 95.622 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That’s enough to offset 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year. “We looked at all the different options for space, including some that would have required cutting down trees, but that wasn’t the granola thing to do,” Anker says. “Revitalizing an old building was.”
Everything in the new building is powered with solar electricity, including the ovens, the forklifts, the heating and cooling. “We won’t have any petroleum on premises at all,” Anker says. “We’re really excited about it, and we’re the first food production facility in New England to do that.”
With its new plant, the company is ready to expand its distribution into additional retailers in California, Arizona and Nevada under the leadership of a new Western U.S. Account Manager, Becky LaFord. GrandyOats is already being sold in the South Pacific region of Whole Foods, and the product line is doing well in independent natural food stores and co-ops as well as Hannaford, Wegmans and MOM’s Organic Markets. All of those retailers are good partners for the brand, which does best when it’s in the hands of retailers who care about the integrity of the products they sell, value transparency about how the products are made and are willing to educate customers to help them make good decisions, Anker says.
GrandyOats is also offered in 75 college and university dining halls. “It’s been really a fun segment for us,” Anker says. “It helps universities communicate their commitment to healthy, quality offerings they can feel good about. It’s been positive for the schools, the students, and has helped grow our business and brand.”
The company’s product line comprises more than 40 SKUs of trail mixes, granolas, roasted nuts, and hot cereals. The Classic Granola has 11 ingredients. The trail mixes generally have seven or eight. Those ingredients don’t include either refined sugars, canola oil or corn. “With our granolas, you’re never going to find any refined sugar. We only sweeten with honey, maple syrup, fruit juice and agave. We use fruits and nuts and wholesome grains,” Anker says. “For instance, our Instant Oatmeal Cup: Why make something simple like oatmeal complicated? Organic oats, cranberries, raisins and apples – delicious oatmeal with 35 percent fruit. You can add whatever milk you want, whatever sweetener you want. That’s our philosophy – pure, clean food, 100 percent organic…. We make good, clean food. We don’t think it needs to be overly complicated.”
Whether it’s their strikingly rich color, antioxidant properties or numerous health benefits, there’s no question that the beet has become a go-to vegetable for natural foods consumers. With these attributes in mind, Crunchies introduces this essential superfood to its deliciously addictive line of freeze-dried snacks. Crunchies Freeze-Dried Beets will officially launch at this year’s Natural Products Expo West, proving that single-ingredient snacks can deliver nutrition, taste and convenience all in one.
“Because ‘pure’ and ‘nothing added’ are the building blocks of our brand, we knew that we wanted to introduce a vegetable that complemented our mission of health and transparency,” says Crunchies President and CEO Scott Jacobson. “Beets, a well-known superfood, are the perfect, natural addition to our line.”
Crunchies is the only U.S. consumer freeze-dry brand that is vertically integrated “farm to fork,” meaning that it knows exactly where its fruits and vegetables were harvested. Crunchies’ new beets, for example, are grown and processed in France by farmers the company knows and trusts.
“Our UK-based supplier is a veteran when it comes to freeze drying beets. Unlike the European population, which has considered beets a dietary staple for years, Americans are only recently realizing the culinary versatility and nutritional benefits of this superfood,” adds Jacobson.
In addition to their sensory appeal and nutritional density, beets have the ideal composition for freeze-drying, a low-pressure drying process that allows for high retention of nutrients and antioxidant phytochemicals. Unlike dehydration, freeze-drying requires no additives for preservation and generally means a longer shelf life, lighter weight and that satisfying crunch.
Crunchies Freeze-Dried Beets will be available in stores nationwide for a suggested retail price of $4.99 for resealable pouches and $1.69 for single-serve packs. Like all Crunchies products, they contain no added sugar and no artificial flavors or coloring and are non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, kosher and halal certified. Other Crunchies products in the line include strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, cinnamon apple, strawberry banana and mixed fruit.
By Lorrie Baumann
Wholesome Goodness is a brand based on three key tenets: that food should taste great, that food should be nutritious, and that nutritious food should be affordable. Because it fulfills all three of these goals, Wholesome Goodness’ product line aligns with the way that Millennial generation consumers want to eat today, according to company founders Jeff Posner and Rick Letizia.
Posner and Letizia had 70 years of experience in the food industry between them when they decided to leave behind their executive positions in major food companies like Kraft and General Foods to strike out on their own with a brand reflecting their beliefs about how more nutritious foods can help address health problems related to diet. Posner himself suffers from high blood pressure, while Letizia has type-2 diabetes, so they are personally aware of the burdens that nutrition-related diseases place on health care costs, quality of life and longevity.
From experience, they knew that major food companies use ingredients that make products cheaper to manufacture but may offer less nutrition to the consumers who used them. They wanted to go another way; to start a food business that would serve consumers’ ever-increasing expectations for healthier foods. “Wholesome Goodness products emphasize positive ingredients like protein, antioxidants and whole grains, while de-emphasizing negative ingredients like saturated fats, added sugars and added sodium,” Posner said.
“Part one of the Wholesome Goodness promise is that for every calorie consumed you get relatively more nutrition than the mainstream national brands,” he continued. “Part two is affordability. This requirement recognizes that 75 percent of the country is overweight or obese, and the barriers to eating healthier foods are both taste and price. Conceptually, if you take nutritional density and divide by price, our products provide consumers with the optimal blend of high nutrition and affordable cost. That’s our unique value proposition. At Wholesome Goodness, we want the 75 percent of the population that’s overweight or obese to be able to afford and enjoy each and every one of our products.”
The two started out six years ago by talking with consumers and retailers to learn more about changing trends in eating patterns before they decided that their first products would be a line of snacks, Letizia said. “Data shows that the bulk of our population, in particular the nearly 80 million Millennials, are snacking four to six times a day; thus, portability is extremely important – things you can throw in your purse or backpack,” he said.
As the two developed other products, they stayed with the directive that they wanted their foods to be nutrition-dense, a concept offered up by Yale University childhood obesity and nutrition expert Dr. David Katz. This concept, simply stated, requires that for every calorie contained in their products, the consumer will get a healthier blend of more positive nutrition and less negative nutrition. They wanted clean ingredients without excessive sodium or added sugars. “We currently ban 127 ingredients that other food companies use today, including all 85 identified by Whole Foods,” Letizia said. “We have the cleanest ingredient deck in the industry at the present time.”
And while they were creating clean ingredient labels for their products, they also wanted to produce foods that were more affordable than mainstream competitors’, Posner said. “These are the kinds of products that my mother would have served the family: great-tasting and affordable for the family. Not that she did anything different from all my friends’ mothers; the only thing my friends and I knew growing up was just good, old-fashioned food,” he said. “Frankly, there is no reason why anyone today should have to pay a premium to have better-for-you products.”
“We don’t have anywhere near the cost structure of the large companies. We don’t own any plants; instead, we use highly-qualified third parties to manufacture our proprietary product formulations, so we don’t have the overhead and capital requirements of a big company. We certainly don’t make the multi-million dollar salaries of the executives of the large food companies. We don’t have the requirement to deliver a 15 percent bottom line just to maintain shareholder value – we can make do on a much smaller percentage,” he explained. “We want our products to be accessible to the masses…. For example, our award winning Sweet Chili and Omega Tortilla Chips come in a 9-ounce bag that retails for $3.99 – and even less on feature. A 5.5-ounce bag of competing better-for-you brands will cost about as much as Wholesome Goodness. Consequently, we’re less expensive, averaging about 20 to 30 percent cheaper, ounce for ounce, than these other brands. When you divide our products’ nutritional density by food budget dollars spent, we’re really the best deal in town.”
The Wholesome Goodness product line includes snack chips and crisps; granola bars, snack mixes, and hot and cold cereals. Learn more at www.wholesome-goodness.com.
By Lorrie Baumann
The Better Chip is bringing new energy to the deli department with a gluten-free snack chip that comes in flavors that complement the premium cheeses, cured meats and the dips already in the deli cases. The product fits in well with the transforming role of the grocery’s perimeter, which has become a destination within the store for grab and go meal and snack shoppers who want quick sustenance but who don’t intend to sacrifice their nutritional goals by resorting to fast food as well as those who regard the deli department as their resource for food to serve when they entertain.
Now The Better Chip has extended its line of five flavors of better-for-you vegetable chips: Sweet Corn and Sea Salt, Jalapenos and Sea Salt, Spinach & Kale and Sea Salt, Beets and Sea Salt and Chipotles and Sea Salt with a smaller package size, a 1.5-ounce bag that’s easy to drop into a lunch kit or a sandwich clamshell for an offering that enhances the value of the grab and go offering. “Everyone wants to offer something a little different. We feel like that’s something different they can offer that you don’t get at sandwich places,” says Andrea Brule, Vice President/General Manager of The Better Chip. “We found that accounts were interested in a smaller bag they could use in their lunchtime program. Because our chips are doing so well in their big bags, they thought that, in a smaller bag, they might be able to use it in their lunch program.”
Of the five flavors, which continue to be offered in 6-ounce family-size bags, the Spinach & Kale is far and away the company’s best seller, Brule said. The Jalapenos and Beets Chips are tied for second place. The Better Chip will announce two new flavors early in 2016.
The chips appeal to consumers who are looking for a better-for-you snack that’s a gluten-free alternative to the crackers and bagel chips that are often chosen in the deli to accompany dips and hummus. In addition to being gluten free, The Better Chip snacks are non-GMO, gluten free, vegan, whole grain and made with fresh vegetables.
They appeal to deli manager because they’re an innovation that can add new energy to the category. “They get the ring on the sandwich, but when they [shoppers] come back to buy more, they get that ring in the deli. That’s as opposed to, with other chips, that ring goes to grocery.” Brule said.
The 1.5-ounce bags retail as a separate a la carte offering for $.99 to $1.19.
Bare Snacks®, creator of delicious Snacks Gone Simple®, has just launched a fresh new look for its entire portfolio of crunchy baked snacks, which highlights the brand’s dedication to simple, clean ingredients. Featuring a modern interpretation of a slate board background coupled with a stylized new logo made from its baked fruit chips and striking real food visuals, the new packaging was developed to create an iconic brand block on-shelf and drive strong taste appeal while putting the simplicity of the snacks front and center. The new look for bare Banana Chips, Coconut Chips, and cornerstone Apple Chips will start shipping to retailers nationwide at the end of January.
“In an effort to better communicate the simplicity of our truly good-for-you snacks, we wanted to create a clean brand look that more accurately reflects our commitment to simple, real ingredients that still deliver the satisfying crunch of a chip,” said Dana Ginsburg, Director of Marketing at Bare Snacks. “Our modern packaging makeover perfectly expresses our brand promise to consumers in a fresh new way that puts our ingredients front and center.”
Bare Snacks’ new packaging features beautiful photography of real apples, coconuts and bananas on the front panel, as well as a refreshed logo made from the same fruit in chip form for each corresponding line. In addition, the new back-label design prominently displays ingredients front and center in large font and notes “The Bare Facts” for each product, such as containing no added oil or preservatives, as well as third party certifications like the Certified B Corp seal and Non-GMO Project Verified logo. To further communicate the simplicity of bare snacks, each bag also includes an illustration of a whole piece of fruit transitioning to slices and finally baked crunchy chips to accurately depict the minimally processed product inside.
Made with whole-food ingredients and real, fresh-picked fruit that is sliced and baked to crunchy perfection rather than fried, bare snacks are a tasty and healthier alternative to traditional chips. All bare snacks are Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten free, and contain no added oil or preservatives.
Bare snacks are available nationwide in natural and grocery stores including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts and Safeway as well as national retailers such as Target, Costco and Amazon with suggested retail prices ranging from of $0.99-$4.99.
General Mills, Inc. has acquired EPIC Provisions, a rapidly growing, premium meat snacks company based in Austin, Texas. EPIC will operate under General Mills’ Annie’s business, which itself has experienced strong sales growth since General Mills acquired the company more than a year ago. EPIC will maintain its present location in Austin.
“The acquisition of EPIC positions General Mills for exciting growth with a highly authentic brand in an entirely new natural snacking category,” said John Foraker, President of Annie’s. “A purpose-driven brand like EPIC perfectly aligns with the experience and capabilities set that Annie’s brings to the table. EPIC has tremendous potential for growth in the natural snacking category. We’re committed to maintaining the great-tasting EPIC snacks people love, while further building this important brand to drive positive impact we can be proud of well into the future.”
EPIC Provisions was launched in 2013 by co-founders Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest, both competitive athletes seeking a convenient way to add nourishing animal protein to their diets. The original EPIC meat, fruit, and nut bar — the first of its kind — has created a new snacking category. EPIC Bars come in unique flavors including Bison Bacon Cranberry, Beef Habanero Cherry, Chicken Sesame BBQ, and Pulled Pork Pineapple. Today the brand has evolved its product offerings to include EPIC Jerky Bites and EPIC Hunt and Harvest Trail Mix.
Both Collins and Forrest will continue with the business following the acquisition. “We’re proud of the rapid growth EPIC Provisions has achieved during the past three years,” said Collins and Forrest. “Our decision to join General Mills provides EPIC with the scale to bring our products to even more consumers, and to significantly increase the positive impact of our business on grassland regeneration and proper livestock management practices. We look forward to working with Annie’s and General Mills to continue this momentum and to build upon the authenticity of the brand we created.”
EPIC snacks are sold primarily in the natural channel including nationally at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers, but are also sold at sporting and hiking shops including REI, as well as some conventional grocers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.