NOSHscape: The Latest Food Brand News

Tyson Tackles Food Waste, Expands Portfolio with ¡YAPPAH!

Meat producer Tyson has announced the debut of ¡YAPPAH!, a line of “protein crisps” made from upcycled chicken breasts, juice byproducts and spent grain from Molson Coors.

The line will launch in four crisp flavors: chicken and carrot curry, chicken and celery mojo, chicken IPA white cheddar and chicken shandy beer. Each will retail for $2.99 per single-serve, 1.25 oz. metal canister, which resembles a beer can.

The name ¡YAPPAH! comes from a South American term referring to the tradition of merchants giving valued customers extra product in order to not be left with food waste at the end of the day, Rizal Hamdallah, head of Tyson Innovation Lab, told NOSH. It’s an appropriate moniker considering that the products are made from the trimmings of Tyson’s chicken breasts.

Hamdallah told NOSH that the concept was developed by the lab over five days in early January during what they call a “design sprint” — a term largely used by tech companies to describe a brief, finite period to attack certain product problems or features.

¡YAPPAH! debuted on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo for a 30-day campaign and raised roughly $7,000. Although many businesses use crowdfunding campaigns to raise capital, the lab has looked to Indiegogo as a data provider as well as a marketing tool.

“Indiegogo can help us learn through their technology about our communication, about our branding, about our product,” Hamdallah said. “[Also,] we want to tap into a consumer that we don’t have today, which is the early adopter. They shop online, they communicate differently and through this platform we may learn how to access them better.”

Following the Indiegogo campaign, the product will then be sold for 90 days in a Chicago supermarket as a further test. At that point, the lab will either iterate on the product or decide to halt production. Hamdallah told NOSH that as long as the brand achieves certain key metrics, the lab will proceed forward, “because there are signals to show this is something appealing.”

From there, ¡YAPPAH! will launch regionally by Fall 2018 for more testing before hitting stores nationally in 2019.

Nom Noms World Food Launches in North America

Globally inspired meal maker Nom Noms World Food’s refrigerated meals are now available in North America. The United Kingdom-based brand has been added to the shelves of more than 1,500 retailers, including Meijer, Walmart and Canadian grocer M&M Food Market. The meals, targeted to adults and children, are also being sold by e-commerce company Jet.com.

This move into new markets illustrates massive growth for the brand, which prior to its U.S. launch was sold aboard airlines and in 250 stores in the U.K

The Nom Noms portfolio is comprised of both frozen and fresh Mega Nom Noms for adults and Mini Nom Noms for children. Each meal draws on a different culture from around the world and is flavored with spice blends authentic to the origin of each cuisine. The goal, Nom Noms CEO Lisa Sohanpal said, is to encourage consumers to embrace a diverse pallet. “We believe we are entering the market at the right time, right place with the right multi-award-winning concept with the right supply chain partners,” Sohanpal told NOSH. “We are setting the foundations now to build a global healthy food brand.”

Dean Foods Acquires Majority Share of Good Karma

Dean Foods Company has increased its ownership percentage to a majority stake in flax-based dairy brand Good Karma. The company previously acquired a minority share of the Good Karma brand in May 2017. Good Karma will continue to operate out of its Boulder, Colo., headquarters as an independent company led by its current leadership team. Previous Good Karma investor, 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, will also continue to be a “material investor” in the brand, according to Dean Foods.

The possibility of a deal became apparent earlier this year when Dean Foods CEO Ralph Scozzafava told Bloomberg that the company was considering acquiring a majority stake in the brand and would be making that decision within the “next few months.”

Dean Foods, one of the largest dairy companies in the U.S., has increasingly looked to diversify its portfolio beyond cow’s milk products and position itself further into the natural food space. In 2016, the company announced a joint venture with Organic Valley Dairy to distribute its products and in 2017 the company acquired Uncle Matt’s Organic, a juice brand.

“Diversification to higher-growth, on-trend products is a key focus for Dean Foods,” Scozzafava said in a statement. “Our investment in Good Karma is just one example of how we are executing against one of the major pillars of our strategic plan to build and buy strong brands.”

Good Karma has also worked to increase its portfolio over the last five years. Previously a private label producer of non-dairy milk, the company switched to become a branded CPG company in 2014. In the same year, it brought on CEO Doug Radi, a veteran of Rudi’s, Horizon Organic and WhiteWave Foods. Under Radi, the company added flax milk yogurts in 2016 and then in late 2017 added three shelf stable ready-to-drink (RTD) formats of a new flax milk and protein beverage.

For Dean Foods, the investment has acted as a return to the plant-based space. Almost 10 years ago, Dean Foods sold plant-based protein brand Morningstar and spun off its WhiteWave division, which included soy milk brand Silk.

Health Warrior CEO Talks ‘Continuous Improvement’

Snack brand Health Warrior wants consumers to be as excited for the newest iteration of their superfood bars as they are for the latest version of their iPhone. But unlike that constantly-iterated device, Health Warrior customers won’t have to speculate until September — it’s already in stores.

The new packaging embraces a bolder color palette and more differentiation between SKUs. Along with the new wrappers comes a reformulation that reduces both calories and sugar across the line. The revised look has already rolled out on the company’s web site and in key brick and mortar retailer Target. Founder and CEO Shane Emmett told NOSH he thinks the food industry should embrace tech world tactics of constant revision and improvement.

“Apple comes out with a new iPhone every year,” Emmett said. “Shouldn’t our tribe members expect us to [have] superior chia bars every year? I think so.”Feedback about the bars, which are in roughly 10,000 retail doors, was gathered through direct customer responses both online and through the brand’s thousands of demos over the last year.

For the chia bars, Health Warrior ascertained that brand’s loyal followers were looking for low calorie and low sugar foods that would have “high satiation.” The bars now clock in with three grams of sugar, which Health Warrior says is “the absolute lowest amount of sugar for any bar in the U.S.A. without using fake and artificial ingredients to get there.”

To achieve these numbers, the Health Warrior team utilized both a lower-sugar brown rice syrup and, in some SKUs, monkfruit.

Health Warrior’s pumpkin seed bars have also been changed in both formulation and packaging over the past 12 months, most notably by switching to organic ingredients. Emmett said the chia bars will eventually become certified organic as well. The company also plans to launch new products outside of the bar space this year, he added.

Regardless of line, Emmett said, the Health Warrior customer will play a key role in product development. “If you are in touch with your base, you are reinvigorating because you listen closely to them,” Emmett told NOSH, as he attempted to create a new term. “In this new ‘phygital’ era you learn so much about why your tribe came to the campfire in the first place.”

SnackNation To Expand Beyond Offices With $12 M Investment

Tech-enabled snack delivery service SnackNation has announced the closing of a $12 million round of investment, bringing the company’s total venture funding to $22.5 million to date. The Series B round was led by 3L Capital.

SnackNation said it will use the new funds to expand into new distribution channels such as hospitality and transportation and scale its direct-to-consumer business, which is currently 10 percent of the company’s revenue. The goal is to further position the company as the go-to marketplace for emerging CPG brands in the natural space, according to SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly.

“We’ve focused on the office thus far because this is where people, especially the younger generation, spend the majority of their time,” Kelly said. “As we grow, we’re looking at other unique moments in a consumers day where we can connect with them in a meaningful way.”

Founded in 2014, SnackNation curates and delivers better-for-you snacks for customers in thousands of member offices nationwide. To be affiliated with SnackNation, each brand and product must pass an ingredient review and tasting panel. The company offers over 5,000 better-for-you snack options from brands such as Chef’s Cut, Clif, Dang and Mamma Chia.

This offering hits a sweet spot with younger consumers in particular: On average, millennials are willing to take a $7,600 pay cut in exchange for a better work environment, according to a recent study by Fidelity, and about 88 percent of surveyed employees consider employer-provided catering and snacks as an important benefit.

Until now, SnackNation has focused on offices; about one third of a person’s life is spent at work, meaning a job can have a huge impact on diet.

SnackNation may face competition in its quest to service offices, which will remain a key focus for the company, according to Kelly. Earlier this month, ZeroCater, a provider of office catering and snacks, also raised $12 million in a Series B round led by Cleveland Avenue LLC.

Regardless of other platforms in the space, Kelly said his goal is to focus on expanding SnackNation’s reach to connect with and serve more consumers during their most engaged moments.

“We see ourselves as a 21st century retailer — we bring the good stuff direct to you, where you already spend your time, rather than ask you to go and find it on your own,” Kelly said. “We’re happy with the progress we’ve made but realize we have a great deal of work to do.”