Dang Foods reported sales of over $10m in 2016, but is expecting to grow by 40% in the next fiscal year with an expanded retail footprint into the mass channel.
Kitirattragarn told BakeryandSnacks at the Sweets & Snacks Expo held in Chicago last week, that the company today holds 68% of the coconut chips market share in the US natural channel.
In the conventional channel, however, Dang Foods makes up nearly 41% of the coconut chips share, slightly ahead of its competitor, Bare Snacks, he said.
“All our growth is coming from the conventional channel, because more conventional stores are building on their natural snack sets, including brands like Dang Foods, Bare and Barnana,” said Kitirattragarn.
To succeed in targetting the mass channel, he said that natural snack brands need to pay attention to four Ps – price, place, placement of products, and packaging.
“A product that sells for $4.99 at Whole Foods does not necessarily sell at the same price at Target. It’s really about modifying the offerings to retailers and customizing the program for them,” he said.
Sonoma Brands partnership
Kitirattragarn founded San Francisco-based Dang Foods five years ago to create Asian-inspired snacks for the American market. Having a family heritage in Thailand helped him in developing unique regional flavors, including the company's first product, coconut chips.
The company secured an investment partnership with Sonoma Brands a little over a year ago. Sanoma's founder Jon Sebastiani recently sold his Krave Jerky brand to the chocolate giant Hershey.
“[Sonoma Brands] is particularly knowledgeable about sales and marketing, and we share R&D and any innovation we have with them,” Kitirattragarn said.
Sticky rice chips
At the expo, Dang Foods unveiled its latest product line, sticky rice chips, which it launched in order to move into the broader salty snacks category.
“Coconut chips are in the alternative snack segment, but we would like to be in the produce and salty snacks aisles as well,” Kitirattragarn said.
His first introduction to rice chip was at Bangkok airport, but they were full of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and artificial ingredients.
“I was in touch with the manufacturer, who told me they sell 10,000 units per day at the airport,” he said. “The product is made with organic sticky rice, which is steamed and soaked in watermelon juice, then put into molds to create chip-sized disks.”
Dang Foods' new range is currently available in three flavors: original, which contains sesame seeds and salt; coconut crunch, which recently won a Sofi Award from the Specialty Food Association; and sriracha spice that has a tang of heat, garlic and vinegar. However, the company is currently developing new flavors - for both the sticky rice chips and coconut chips - and expects to launch them in January 2018.
Kitirattragarn said the company will also be rolling out more “colorful and louder” packaging for its entire snack portfolio in order to stand out on shelf.
Dang Foods is sold through US retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods, Costco, Krogers and Target.