Expo East 2016

I Won Organics continues to tap plant-based protein frenzy, expanding North America footprint

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

I Won Organics plans on expanding its footprint to two new channels in the US, including a nutritional and a specialty store.
I Won Organics plans on expanding its footprint to two new channels in the US, including a nutritional and a specialty store.

Related tags Nutrition Vegetable

High protein is considered the second most important product claim by consumers who purchase better-for-you snacks, according to a recent Mintel survey sampling 993 internet users. 

BakeryandSnacks has discovered that one chip startup has been tapping the booming plant-based protein market since the inception of its business during the recent Expo East in Baltimore, Maryland.

Filling the void in the high protein snack market

I Won Organics’s founder and CEO, Mark Samuel, told this site’s correspondent that he is hoping his organic pea protein-based chip company to grow revenue by three to four times that of its first year, after it experienced a 500% sales increase during September in 2016 compared to the previous month. 

“I believe the market would react positively to an organic, plant-based protein offering, one of which innovated snacks with little to no sugar, and mostly on the savory side,”​ Samuel said. “I Won Organics is an organic certified, non-GMO Verified, and high-protein snack company.”

Prior to the protein snack business, which Samuel started in January this year, he had been a serial entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast since 2004. Samuel also founded several firms, including LaLanne Fitness LLC, and 6 Pack Fitness, according to his LinkedIn account.

Samuel wanted to fill a void in the high protein snack market with I Won Organics’ offerings, he told BakeryandSnacks.

Packed with 20 grams of pea protein per 1.5-ounce bag, I Won Organics currently offers five varieties, including siriracha protein chips, ranch protein chips, barbeque chips, sea salt chips, and cinnamon French toast chips. Each flavor retails at around $27.92 per eight-bag box, according to the company.

Expanding footprint in North America

I Won Organics had a national launch recently with Vitamin Shoppe, and the products are in about 550 of its stores across the US, according to Samuel.

“We are also in a handful of natural grocer independents in different regions, with those door counts being added to each day,”​ he said. “We are also sold internationally, and can already be found in more than 10 countries,”

To expand the company’s distribution channels in North America, the pea protein manufacturer is currently developing two flavors, which it plans on launching one of them by January, 2017, Samuel said. However, he decided not to disclose the details of the new products at this point.

In addition, I Won Organics is in talks with more major US retailers, and it hopes to secure those listings in the coming months.

“We can’t disclose the retailers, but they do both have their corporate offices on the East Coast [of the US],”​ Samuel said. “One of them is a nutritional store, and the other is specialty.”

“We will reach the natural and healthy consumer, families, and millennials who are all interested in this [plant-based protein] snack category,”​ he added.

Protein offerings are on the rise

Speaking about the surge of plant-based protein as an ingredient in the snack space in the past few years, Samuel believes protein has always been spoken of highly by many snack companies. “But there were just not as many options as there are today,”​ he explained.

Snack Segment

“I’ve eaten a high-protein diet most of my life, so seeing protein offerings are on the rise, and more consumers are gravitating towards it, is a great thing,”​ Samuel added. “The consumer market needs to understand how important eating protein is.”

Some animal protein-focused companies are also eyeing the growing popularity of the plant-based protein market. For example, meat producer Tyson Foods, has reportedly purchased a 5% stake in the plant-based protein company Beyond Meat this past Monday.

Other plant-based protein snack companies are trying to compete within the category by looking for new protein source as their business strategy. This site previously reported that New York startup, BRAMI, use lupini beans​, which is rarely known to the US consumer, as its snacks’ protein source.

“As with any snack categories, the competition for shelf space is high, but we're excited to compete,”​ Samuel said.

‘Other’ snacks have the largest share of better-for-you market

A Mintel report shows that multi-outlet sales of better-for-you snacks hit $1.1bn in the 52 weeks ending June 12, 2016. The report indicates this represents an 18% year-over-year increase and a 35% gain since 2014.

BFY Snacks

The “other”​ snacks segment, which is comprised of mostly plant-based protein snacks, including wasabi peas, roasted chickpeas, veggie sticks, as well as lentil and bean chips, make up the largest share of better-for-you snack market (68%), according to Mintel.

However, the smaller vegetable and fruit chips segment, including companies like Bare Snacks and Dang Foods, experienced the strongest dollar sales growth over the last 52 weeks leading up to June this year, the report shows.

Mintel predicted the “other”​ snacks market will continue to see strong growth moving forward, largely driven by the opportunity to expand its consumer base.

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