Summer Fancy Food Show 2016

Saratoga Chips moves to organic popcorn segment with $200K investment

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Popcorn is perceived as a healthier alternative to other salty snacks.
Popcorn is perceived as a healthier alternative to other salty snacks.

Related tags: Snack food

US kettle chip manufacturer Saratoga Chips launched its first popcorn line, OrganicPop.

OrganicPop comes in four flavors: roasted garlic & kale, farmhouse butter, ancient grains, and heartland cheddar.

All are USDA Certified Organic, ready-to-eat popcorn, and are currently available in grocery and specialty stores in the northeast region of the US with a retail price of around $3.99 for a 4-ounce bag.

Combining the latest industry trends

Saratoga has invested more than $200K in the new range’s development and placements, vice president of operations Danny Jameson told BakeryandSnacks.

Moving to an organic popcorn platform is a natural extension of an “industry first”​ mindset that allows the new brand to combine the latest trends in the snack food industry, he added.

“The fastest growing category of snack food is ready-to-eat popcorn. The top three fastest growing nutritional attributes we see in snacking are organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. Finally, we see kale, ancient grains, and farm to table being hot and on trend today.”

14% growth amid competition

Saratoga is experiencing 14% year-on-year growth and is hoping to accelerate this by expanding its distribution and launching more new products this year.

However, the popcorn space is crowded in the US, said Jameson, which makes it difficult for Saratoga to stand out.

“In many ways, we feel like ‘a rising tide raises all ships', We look at the industry heavyweights like Smartfood, Skinnypop, Angies, and others and are both in awe of their success, and challenged to find our own unique value propositions.”

Popcorn is a ‘blank canvas’

Popcorn is perceived as a healthier alternative to other salty snacks, such as potato chips, Mintel analyst Amanda Topper said. It often promotes minimal calorie counts, fiber content, free-from claims and simple ingredient lists.

“Popcorn is also a ‘blank canvas’ that is versatile and acts as a strong flavor carrier. This has allowed companies large and small to get creative,”​ she added. “Many ready-to-eat popcorn brands incorporate flavors, whether bold or indulgent, or savory or sweet, that help consumers balance decadence and health.”

Ranks second within salty snack category

US popcorn retail sales have reached $2.304bn by 2015 with a 33% year-on-year growth, according to Mintel.

popcorn chart
Source: Mintel

“Popcorn trailed only meat snacks in growth over that period, overtaking cheese snacks for the second largest share of the salty snacks market,” ​the Mintel report says. “The growth of meat snacks and popcorn has benefited from strong innovation and positive health perceptions.”

The salty snacks category is forecast to grow an additional 22% from 2015 to 2020, reaching $12.4bn [Mintel].

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