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What’s Hot & Cool? #19: Healthy Snack Startups

People love to snack…but they also want to live longer!

What’s happening? At the IFT17 Annual Meeting & Food Expo this June, companies and consumers alike are pushing for transparency on product labels. That means environmentally sustainable branding goals and clean approaches to snacking like curbing sugar, opting for basic ingredient lists, and popular elements including seeds, ancient grains, natural fruit flavors and hemp. These trends are easily fused with the multi-billion dollar snack bar industry.

Why should you care?  Differentiating your snack product from others on the market isn’t easy, but highlighting healthy ingredients can help.

Who’s leading?  Women-run snack bar startups are flourishing. Claudia Fierro-Poppen is founder of Ommie Snacks, nutrient-dense, natural fruit and seed bars marketed around mindful eating.  The business took off in 2014 and the products are currently sold at local farmers markets with plans to expand. The challenge with all-natural products is that they are often not shelf stable, so founders are challenged to find recipes that taste good without preservatives.

Newcomer Empact Bars are gluten-free protein bars with a company mission that supports female empowerment under the hashtag: #RaiseTheBar. Melonie and Zeke DeRose, the founders, work with nonprofits like Jonathan’s Place, a foster home, to run training programs for future women in business and hire temporary employment from The Women’s Bean Project. And the team has done their homework: “about 86 percent of grocery shoppers are women,” Melanie DeRose told Project Nosh. “We believe this is a void we can fill with a mission women can believe in.” So far the company has sold to over 300 stores and they expect to earn 400 more retailers by the end of the year.

What can you do? If you’re a manufacturer, you’ll need a great product, a great story, and a lot of energy to break into this power-packed space. Learn from other women who’ve hit the national shelves. (Because many snack bars do not contain preservatives, you may face challenges). As a consumer, be sure to read labels and pick the bar that’s tasty AND junk-free (and maybe even a brand with a social mission).