The next Veggie Straws: Halen Brands pioneers cauliflower crackers and pretzels

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: BAS
Pic: BAS
Halen Brands has unveiled its latest better-for-you snacks platform, From The Ground Up, which currently offers cauliflower-made pretzels and crackers.

Jason Cohen co-founded Halen Brands in 2015 as an incubator, primarily helping to grow health and wellness-focused snacks, including Chef’s Cut Real Jerky and OWYN nutrition bars.

Cauliflower is ‘on fire’

Speaking to BakeryandSnacks at the recent Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, Aaron Greenwald, the president of From The Ground Up, said: “The cauliflower trend is on fire right now.

“We initially saw cauliflower rice and mash potatoes, and then cauliflower pizza came out. Caulipower, for example, is one of the brands that has the highest velocity in the pizza category, whether it’s frozen or gluten-free,”​ he said.

“We thought if we create a product that looks and tastes the same as Mondelēz and Frito-Lay snacks, but is made with cauliflower, it would really resonate with consumers,”​ added Greenwald.

He noted Halen Brands spent two years on product development due to technical difficulties of producing cauliflower-based snacks.

“We have a partnership with Clearlake Capital, and we invested a tremendous amount into building the brand with a line of special machinery and other capabilities,”​ said Greenwald.

From The Ground Up’s crackers are currently manufactured in Europe, while its pretzels are made in the US.

“We feel confident about the products once they came out, as they provide a good source of vitamin and nutrients because of the vegetables. On top of that, you are getting a lower calorie and carb count, and higher protein and fiber contents,”​ he added.

According to Greenwald, From The Ground Up has received “incredible”​ consumer feedback although it has only been in the market for about a month.

“The sales and velocity has been out of this world compared to what we originally expected,” ​he said. “Our retail partners, including Safeway and Sprouts, are also committed to launching the brand.”

Pioneering the next snacking trend

Halen Brands’ co-founder is no stranger to pioneering new snack formats.

About 15 years ago, Cohen created Veggie Straws, which became a new trend of vegetable-based snacking. The brand was later sold to Hain Celestial, the current owner of Garden of Eatin’ and Rudi’s Organic Baking.

More recently, he partnered with the creator of SkinnyPop to take the popcorn brand public under Amplify Snacks in 2015. In late last year, Hershey bought Amplify Snacks​ for $1.6bn.

Greenwald said From The Ground Up is expected to become the next snack trend after Veggie Straws, and the brand will also extend to other vegetable-based items in the next few months.

“It could be broccoli, sweet potatoes or anything, and you are going to see our products in every major snacking categories beyond crackers and pretzels,”​ he said.

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