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Dispatches from Sweets & Snacks Expo 2014

Flamous Brands CEO: We want to take falafel chips mainstream

By Kacey Culliney+

Last updated on 26-May-2014 at 14:15 GMT2014-05-26T14:15:21Z

'America has been waiting for the Mediterranean taste,' says Flamous Brands CEO, but education on the falafel chip concept is still needed...
'America has been waiting for the Mediterranean taste,' says Flamous Brands CEO, but education on the falafel chip concept is still needed...

Flamous Brands has redesigned its packaging for better shelf appeal as it tries to push falafel chips into the mainstream snacking space, its CEO says.

The California-based chip maker, founded in 2007, has a range of Mediterranean falafel and veggie chips available across the US in major retailers including Kroger and Whole Foods as well as a number of specialty stores.

However, company CEO and founder Sam Shehayeb said Flamous wanted to drive its falafel chips even further into the mainstream snack aisle. It was this plan, he said, that had prompted the pack redesign.

“The goal now is to get these products known by people; get them to try it and have them enjoy it and see the benefits they get from eating the chips,” he told at Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago last week.

The company debuted the new packs at the show and launched a fourth flavor – Spicy Fiesta.

Yes, America is ready for Mediterranean…

The chips, made with a blend of 21 herbs, spices, vegetables and legumes, were a taste of the Mediterranean, the CEO said.

Asked if America was ready to snack on Mediterranean chips, he said: “America has been waiting for the Mediterranean taste because, as you know from different books that have been written, the Mediterranean diet which has been evolving for centuries and centuries is one of the healthiest and tastiest diets.”

He said with obesity and its health-related illnesses a growing problem in the US, turning to a Mediterranean diet was more relevant for consumers than ever.

However, he acknowledged that consumers did need further education on the concept of falafel chips. “For many years consumers have been dubbing snacks as junk food. What Flamous has done is taken the chip from a bad-for-you to a good-for-you status, and that takes work,” he said.

Flamous Brands will keep its old paper pack (pictured left) in specialty health stores

While most US consumers knew what falafel was, he said many were unfamiliar with consuming the product in chip-form. So, the new packaging design aimed to communicate exactly what the product was and how it could be consumed, Shehayeb said. The new pack featured an image of the chip being dunked into hummus and images of vegetables, for example.

“When you walk down the aisle, the first thing that attracts you is the packaging. Your last salesman or first salesman is the packaging on shelf, so we contacted people that understand that and our message for the redesign,” he said.

Compared to the old, stand-up paper bag design – packs that will remain in specialty health food stores – the new design sat better alongside regular potato chips in major retailers, he added.

Shehayeb also said Flamous was considering co-branding options with hummus producers to increase exposure in retailers.

Ready for growth

Flamous Brands would continue to focus on improving its US presence, he said, but would also focus on strengthening its export business. The falafel chips were currently exported to Canada, South America and European countries, he said.

Asked if the company had plans to set up production outside the US to cater for these global markets, he said: “We will look at that as the time comes when the financial aspect makes it more of a reason for us to start producing in other countries.”

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