Paul Nardone, former CEO of Annie’s Homegrown, Immaculate Baking Co. and Stirrings, took the leadership reigns at BFY Aug. 27 and already has plans to expand product distribution, increase brand awareness and more fully use the company’s propriety popping technology to create innovative, on trend new branded and private label products.
“This company has tremendous growth potential given the massive shift to healthier living” in the US, its established portfolio of better-for-you snacks and manufacturing technology that can create new branded and private label products that will meet consumers’ growing demand for healthy snacking options, Nardone told FoodNavigator-USA.
“The trend is our friend right now,” he added, noting snacking now accounts for half of all eating occasions and 20% of Americans are swapping traditional snacks for better-for-you options. In addition, he said, the better-for-you snack category is growing four times the rate of the conventional snack category.
“This is very compelling trend data” that retailers across channels are paying attention to and looking for ways to access, Nardone said.
As one of the fastest growing brands in the better-for-you salty snack category, which is worth $3.9 billion and expected to grow 12-15% annually, PopCorners is well positioned to help retailers access into that trend.
Nardone also noted that BFY’s contract manufacturing division Ideal Snacks Holding Corporation’s proprietary popping technology can help retailers produce private label alternatives to further fill out their category offerings.
“Our technology also enables us to deliver a great crunch, which consumers love, and bold flavors with less calories and fat than conventional chips. So there really is no trade off,” he said.
The technology also is versatile and can pop popcorn, like in PopCorner’s original line, and also nutrient dense whole grains, which are used in PopCorner’s whole grain chips line. This allows the company to meet consumers’ interest in ancient grains and nonGMO snacks.
Nardone also said there is more room for innovation with the technology and PopCorner’s brand. For example, he said BFY is exploring “responsible indulgence” products.
“People want better for you options, but they are not willing to sacrifice taste. And they still like the occasional indulgence,” he said, adding there is a need for products that fit this niche.
Building distribution and brand awareness
Currently, PopCorners is distributed in some Whole Foods regions, select Costco regions and a few regional mainstream grocers, which is a “great start,” said Nardone. But, he noted, he wants to do more.
Specifically, he wants to expand distribution and advance the entire healthy snack movement by helping to educate retailers about the category’s potential and emerging consumer trends.
He also plans to expand the company’s sales and marketing force and invest more in BFY’s contract manufacturing business so that it can better innovate with partners.
Hand-in-hand with increasing distribution is increasing brand awareness, which Nardone says will be a priority in the next few years.
One way Nardone says he plans to do this is by providing full transparency about what is in the products, which many conventional competitors do not.
He also plans to build distribution and awareness with a focused sales channel strategy.
In his previous leadership positions, Nardone says, he “learned not to be everything to everyone” but rather to focus on the key priorities. For BFY these are the better-for-you space and leveraging the company’s proprietary popping technology, he said.
Plus, he added, “this space has billions of dollars of opportunities so there is no reason to be everything to everyone in order to realize our full potential.”