The trio of Chickpea Puffs, which launched this spring after a whirlwind five months from inception to finished product, will roll out to Whole Foods Markets nationwide beginning next month – adding 3,500 total stores by the end of the year.
This is on top of already strong distribution at 15,000 retail locations nationwide including retail channels ranging from grocery stores to convenience stores in airports, the company’s founder Poorvi Patodia told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained that while the puffs are already off to an “explosive start” and the brand has accelerated ahead of growth projections and distribution targets, she wants to ensure strong continued velocity and consumer awareness by expanding the marketing team and investing in shopper outreach.
Both of which, she says, are now possible thanks to the fundraise, announced this morning, led by MAW Investments.
“We do have good distribution of the brand, so we are looking to drive awareness and trial,” with a strategy that will include digital and in-store activations, but will be more fully developed once a larger marketing team is in place, Patodia said. She noted that she is nearing the end of the recruitment cycle for expanding the team, which she says she anticipates will be successful.
Innovation on the horizon
The funds also will help the company expand its footprint across snacking categories by supporting new product development, Patodia said. The brand already has two snack lines – the puffs as well as the flagship crunchy chickpeas in sweet and savory flavors – but Patodia says she is looking forward to continuing to create nutritious, plant-based snacks that will help Americans eat healthier.
To this end, she added she is excited to welcome to Biena’s board of directors MAW’s Peter Michaud, who has extensive snack industry experience as the previous lead for Snyder’s-Lance, Inc.’s ‘better-for-you’ snacking portfolio, which includes Late July, Eatsmart, Organic Snacks and others.
“Peter brings a broad range of experience in running and growing category-leading snack brands. I look forward to leveraging his experience in everything from sales and marketing, to product development and hiring as we continue to build our momentum,” she said.
She added that the company’s board of directors as a whole is supportive and “makes themselves available beyond the standard quarterly meetings to offer advice and act as a collaborative sounding board for the leadership team as needed.”