Company president and CEO Brian Driscoll said that Diamond Foods would launch four Kettle popcorn varieties across the US in the second half of fiscal 2014 – White Cheddar, Sea Salt, Maple Bacon and Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper.
Speaking to analysts in the company’s second quarter fiscal ’14 earnings, Driscoll said the move into this booming category would prove great for business.
He said the Kettle brand’s natural credentials would prove meaningful to consumers, which would be positive to the sector as a whole. “We think it will bring new buyers to the category and, therefore, we think it will be meaningful to retailers.”
The US popcorn sector will be worth more than $1.1bn in the next five years, driven by premium-priced, healthier variants, according to research from IBISWorld. The research firm said growth was set to move at around 2.1% a year. However, Euromonitor International data valued the US popcorn sector considerably higher - at $4.2bn for 2013 with microwave representing $1.4bn and other packaged varieties $2.8bn.
Getting to the popcorn party a little late?
Asked by Akshay Jagdale from KeyBanc Capital Markets if Diamond was “getting to the party a little bit late”, the CEO said that the popcorn segment was up almost 25% from last year and would continue to grow at a rapid pace.
“The segment of the ready-to-east category that’s growing the fastest is the all-natural products and I think we will be brining into the category, in our opinion, the most credentialed all-natural snack.”
“We think we have a very important role to play that could actually add a lot of value to the category,” he added.
Diamond Foods already has presence in the popcorn category with its microwave Pop Secret brand – a line that generated a 17.7% retail sales growth in the 12-week period ending February 15, 2014.
Further Kettle NPD for 2014
Diamond will also launch and test a five-strong line of Kettle real sliced potato chips in the US and Kettle Baked Potato and Baked Sweet Potato chips into the UK in the second half of fiscal 2014.
Snyder’s-Lance has also seen opportunity in ready-to-eat popcorn, launching a Cape Cod line targeting the better-for-you snacking segment.
All direct quotes used in this article have been sourced from SeekingAlpha.