NACS 2019

Snacks skew functional and flavorful, from brands big and small at NACS

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food manufacturers across categories launch hundreds of new products at the annual NACS show, this year in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Food manufacturers across categories launch hundreds of new products at the annual NACS show, this year in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Related tags: Snacks, convenience channel, Convenience foods, Convenience stores, better-for-you, Granola, energy bars, New product development, New product launches, Consumer attitudes

Established names look to all-in-one snack packs and new categories for c-store growth, while healthier choices make a push for their place in this grab-and-go channel. Sneak a peek at what we’ve seen this week at the National Association of Convenience Store’s (NACS) annual expo.

Apples have their day

Seneca Foods Wisconsin apple chips

Wisconsin’s Seneca Foods specializes in the processing of fruit and vegetables. Its apple crisps aren’t new to the market, but the packaging received a refresh to meet the demands of consumers seeking healthier snack options.

They are cooked in canola and sunflower oil and contain about 30% less fat than the average potato chip. They also offer 2g of fiber and 220mg of potassium per serving.

Michael Wolcott, who manages the company’s snack division, saw an opening for the product in convenience stores. He led the charge to offer a smaller 6-pack to convince c-stores to add them to their growing mix of better-for-you options.

Seneca makes apple chips from a few US-grown varieties, including Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. They also sell a sour version and one with caramel.

Seaweed strong

Woodridge seaweed snacks sriracha

OKF America, which imports aloe drinks from Asia, has expanded into the snacks business with its line of Woodridge Snacks.

The non-GMO and vegan seaweed chips are coated in a tempura batter and tossed in one of three flavors: Hickory BBQ, Sriracha and Sea Salt. They offer an umami blast of Southeast Asian flavor with the addictiveness of a chip.

Seaweed offers a host of nutritional benefits – in this case 50mg of potassium and 10mg of calcium, plus 2g of protein and 1g of fiber.

Woodridge also showcased its Mochi Rice Nuggets, made from white rice. The Tom Yum flavor aims to resemble the classic Thai soup, while Teriyaki hints to soy sauce, sake and ginger.

Meat meets energy bar

Lorissa's Kitchen meat energy bar jerky

Natural jerky maker Lorissa’s Kitchen debuted a truly new-school bar this week. Called ‘Whole-Made Medley,’ the bars feature 100% grass-fed beef or natural chicken breast blended with egg whites for an additional protein boost (10g total). The female-founded brand showed off its new goods in a walk-thru booth next to parent company Jack Link's, which launched Lorissa's in 2016​. 

The bars are free from preservatives, grains and high fructose corn syrup. They do contain almonds, soy and coconut in the form of syrup, plus tapioca syrup.

Three of the six flavors nod to the brand’s jerky roots:

  • Sweet Barbecue adds BBQ-seasoned pepitas to dried apples and peanuts – plus beef and egg white
  • Pineapple Teriyaki combines teriyaki chicken with almonds, sunflower seeds and dried pineapple
  • Chipotle Apricot marries chipotle seasoned beef with almonds, sunflower seeds and dried apricots

The other three flavors lean more toward the fruit bar side of the category with Cranberry Orange, Blueberry Fusion and Apple Cinnamon.

No oats to see here

Clif Bar energy bar granola oats dates

Clif Bar has skyrocketed from a mountain climber making better-for-you energy bars in the 1990s to one of the biggest names in bars. But it has apparently felt some heat from up-and-comers like RxBar: brand ambassador Fernando Rivero told us at NACS the new Whole Lotta bars – made from a base of date paste and cashew butter combined with nuts and fruits – aim to compete directly in that low-carb, high-protein sphere.

Pea protein, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds and virgin coconut oil round out the bar’s main ingredients.

They will hit shelves later this year in four flavors: Salted Dark Chocolate, Tart Cherry Almond, Roasted Peanut Chocolate and Spiced Almond Ginger.

It’s not a bar, it’s a ‘roller’

Crunchy Roller Chef Bobo snacks granola

Chef Bobo Brand took the standard rectangular bar format and turned it into a cylinder.

Its two-packs of Crunchy Rollers combine puffed brown rice with freeze-dried fruit and a touch of brown rice syrup and agar, a thickener made from red algae.

The 0.9oz bars (RRP $2.49 for a single pack, or $3.99 for a pack of three) are available in flavors like Apple Cinnamon and Mixed Berry.

Berry power

Navitas Organics superfood berry bars

 

Navitas Organics, a superfood specialist founded in 2003, already produced bite-sized 'power snacks', but decided now was the time to offer those cubes in bar format.

The Los Angeles-based company shared the new offering at NACS in each of its four go-to flavors: Cacao with Chocolate, Coffee or Goji Berry, and a Blueberry Hemp. Each variety contains Navitas’ superfood blend of chia, cacao, lucuma, goji and maca – resulting in 15% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C plus iron, potassium, calcium and fiber.

A single-serve bar has an RRP of $1.79, or $17.99 for a pack of 12 online. The superfood bites run for $9.99 for an 8oz bag.

Choosy moms choose PowerUps

Jif Power Ups peanut butter snacks

 

J.M. Smucker’s popular peanut butter brand has taken its flagship product to a whole new world in 2019.

Its PowerUps line capitalizes on the recognizable name and flavor of Jif peanut butter by putting the spread in on-the-go snacking form.

Peanut clusters come in a classic Creamy variety, as well as Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Apple Cinnamon. Peanuts, mixed with sugar, oil and peanut powder, are coated in crunchy granola made from sweetened rolled oats. They pack 6g of protein and 2g of fiber per serving.

Jif granola bars offer the same nutritional value and many of the same ingredients, but in a traditional wrapped bar – ready for busy consumers. And there is also a chewy soft-baked bar in flavors like Banana, Chocolate and Snickerdoodle.

A five-pack of 1.3oz bars or clusters runs for about $3.99, or $17 on Amazon for a pack of six boxes.

Chocolate raisins from California's raisin queen

Sun-Maid chocolate raisins

Sun-Maid has reached into the heavy stream of snacks and sweet treats following the hot theme of permissible indulgence.

Parent company Promotion in Motion showed off its chocolate covered and nut butter enrobed raisins at the show. They are available in four flavors: Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Chocolate’n Peanut Butter and Chocolate’n Almond Crunch.

A 2oz single-serve tube will run for an RRP of $1.99, while a 7oz resealable stand-up bag goes for $5.79. Movie theaters and concession operators will also have access to a 3.5oz box.

Baby cheese, baby crackers

Babybel snack packs cheese

Babybel has combined its popular snack cheese discs with crackers in a convenient 1oz package. They are available in both the original flavor (a mild cow’s milk cheese) and white cheddar.

Each single-serving pack contains 110 calories and 160mg of calories – 10% of the daily recommended value.

A 3pk runs for an RRP of $2.99-$3.19.

Tajin is everywhere

Snak Club Tajin peanuts

Sweet and spicy has gained ground in snack flavors this year, with flavor reports touting the ever-increasing relevance of globally inspired flavors​.

Tajin is one of those seasonings that has a cult following, which has landed it partnerships with several brands. Snak Club, owned by Century Snacks, adds the Mexican spice blend to crunchy peanuts and peach ring gummies.

It has also added Tajin varieties to peanuts, crunchy corn pieces and its Tropical Mix of nuts and dried fruit.

Pickle in a bag goes south of the border

Van Holten's pickle in a pouch Tapatio

Van Holten’s told us it wasn’t sure if it could claim the title of ‘first-ever pickle in a bag,’ but it was the first to put this pickle-on-the-go idea in a stand-up pouch. That packaging makes the snack more presentable for retailers, the company said.

Its newest flavor adds the spice of Tapatio, a Mexican hot sauce readily available throughout the US.

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