Expo West 2016
The number of bites, not calories, influences satiety, Enjoy Life Foods CMO says
Joel Warady, chief sales and marketing officer of the free-from food company explained the new line of Soft-Baked Cookie Minis and Crunchy Cookie Minis that launched at Natural Products Expo West in mid-March are the same serving size as the firm’s “beloved” original cookies, but they give consumers seven times the satisfaction as the single cookie because they are able to pop them in their mouths over and over.
The action causes consumers to slow their snacking and more thoughtfully consume the product, he said.
At the same time, the single-serving pouches of mini cookies helps consumers control their portions so they are not tempted to eat to the bottom of a large bag, as is sometimes the risk with smaller bite-sized foods, he said.
The company applied a similar logic when creating its new ProBurst Bites – indulgent balls of creamy chocolate that are rolled in a crunchy blend of seeds and spices, Warady said. He explained that the balls are designed to either be popped in consumer’s mouths for an exaggeratingly large bite for an over-the-top, yet controlled indulgence, or to be savored in two or three bites.
The bite sized balls are part of a larger trend of ball-shaped snacks hitting the market now, and also tap into consumer demand for high protein, with a two ball serving delivering six grams of plant-based protein.
While a serving technically is two balls, Warady said he imagines most consumers will only eat one ball at a time, which is why they are packaged in a large, re-sealable pouch that gives consumers control over how much they eat.
The balls also come in on-trend flavor combinations, including Cinnamon Spice Chocolate, Mango Habenero, Cranberry Pomegranate and Cocoa & Roasted SunSeed Butter.
While both product lines run counter to the trend toward healthier eating, Warady says that not all consumers are “all in” on healthy eating all the time. “There are still consumers who drink beer and eat pizza or a candy bar some days, but maybe four days week they want to feel they’re eating a bit healthier. So, what we try do with that is marry that desire for something indulgent but with a healthier profile with lower sugar, some functionality” and portion control.
In addition, the ProBurst Bites specifically are designed as an indulgent product that meets three major pain points in consumers lives, including, “10:30 in the morning in between breakfast and lunch when people need a little bit of a pick-me-up, at around 2:30 in the afternoon when everybody else is eating in the office and people with food allergies want to have a little snack or a little bit of energy so this is ideal for that, and then 9:30 at night where they're looking for something that is slightly indulgent but doesn't cause him to feel guilty. So, ProBurst Bites fit all of that,” Warady said.
Free-from shoppers are heavy spenders
He also noted providing free-from shoppers with a wide range of products, including savory snacks, baking mixes and indulgent products, is important to retailers because it will keep that shopper in their store.
“We did a study … that found the average shopper’s cart value is $46, but the free-from shopper’s cart is $102” because they tend to also buy more organic products, more produce, high end cheeses and premium products across categories, Warady said.
So, by offering a wide selection of allergy-friendly, free-from products, retailers are more likely to attract that higher spending consumers, he said.
Free from shoppers prefer dedicated sets
In addition, he noted, that free-from products currently perform better when they are shelved together in a special free-from space within the natural sector so shoppers know where to find them.
In the future, these products might do well spread throughout the store next to their conventional counterparts, but for now the free-from shopper is so scared of allergens and cross contamination that they still are unwilling to buy an allergen-free product if it is on the shelf next to a product with nuts.
Recognizing that a dedicated free-from section likely does not attract steady foot traffic from many consumers who do not battle with allergens and expressly seek out the section, Enjoy Life Foods will invest heavily in advertising to promote their new snacks and tell all shoppers where in the store to find them, Warady said.
He added that Enjoy Life Foods’ goal is to make products that everyone can enjoy, and which they actively seek in stores not because they are allergen-friendly or free-from undesirable ingredients but because they taste good.