Peckish – developed by Sonoma Brands, the firm behind successful snack brands including Dang coconut chips, Krave jerky and Hu chocolate – has positioned itself as the ‘portable protein’ snack that offers protein levels akin to something like an RXBar, but without the ‘processed’ element of shelf-stable snacks. Like dairy products, Egan told us, the hard-boiled eggs should not be out of the fridge for more than an hour or so.
That reality hasn’t stopped companies from exploring the refrigerated snack aisle. Mondēlez recently scooped up Perfect Snacks, arguably the leading cold bar. Sargento has found new audiences through its Balanced Breaks snack packs, which combine cheese bites with nuts and raisins; they proved so popular that the Wisconsin-based company added a series of breakfast-focused flavors.
For Peckish, capitalizing on the desire consumers have for a nutritious snack and a worthy mini-meal is the ultimate goal. According to IRI, a majority of consumers report wanting snacks made with natural ingredients, and snack launches with protein claims jumped 24% from 2013 to 2017.
We dig into how the brand has attacked the challenge of making fresh food on the go truly convenient.
*Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q&A with Lauren Egan of Peckish
BAS: The American Egg Board mentioned Peckish as a great example of snack innovation for eggs, while offering an interactive experience. How did the product progress from idea to fruition, especially given the complexity of boiling the perfect egg for a decent shelf life?
Lauren Egan: Our snacking culture continues to evolve with the changing demands of the on-the-go consumer, who expects the same level of quality and freshness from their snacks that they do from food they prepare in the home. The genesis of Peckish is rooted in a belief that the future of snacking is ‘fresh,’ portable and protein-centric.
Eggs are nature’s perfect food: clean and high protein, [inherently] individually portioned. But eaten alone, they under-deliver on quality and flavor. So we set out to elevate the portable protein experience with the egg at its core.
First, we improved the cooking method to achieve quality, rich, creamy orange yolks. That proprietary method took some time to perfect, but we were able to achieve a texture similar to a medium-boiled egg with a custardy (not jammy) yolk wrapped in tender whites. Our process is gentler and a little longer than other manufacturing processes.
We then paired them with flavor-forward, culinary-inspired crunchy dips for an exceptional texture and taste experience. Our packaging is designed for optimum flexibility and portability to cater to our busy lifestyles – whether that be a pre- or post-workout snack, on-the-go breakfast, or quick desk lunch.
BAS: How did the company decide on the textures and flavors, like Eggs & Everything, Eggs & Fried Rice, Eggs & Maple Waffles, etc?
LE: This is the fun part! We consider texture, nutrition and flavor as key innovation pillars when developing dip flavors.
We definitely look at trending flavor profiles and thrive on the feedback and suggestions we receive from our customers. We focus on developing dips that are bold, flavor-forward and culinary-inspired because they have to taste delicious.
Simultaneously, we are focused on delivering flavor using the cleanest ingredients that pack an additional nutritional-punch, such as Organic Quinoa Crispies or Organic Roasted Pepita Seeds. Then, of course, they have to pair well with eggs, which is where some of the fun and personality of the brand can truly shine, like Fried Rice or Rancheros – dishes that are traditionally served with eggs.
BAS: Peckish has already revamped its packaging. What inspired the new look?
LE: The great thing about being a young brand is agility. We have to be so diligent to prioritize consumer feedback and insights in this launch period, which has given us the ability to turn the dial and make small tweaks quickly to better position the brand for success in the future.
We have made some changes to the front of pack (calling out attributes more clearly), but it was important to maintain the strong brand identify. A key change was the added window: it more clearly communicates what is in the carton, and windows cue ‘fresh’ in the mind of the consumer.
BAS: How did you land on the plastic dipping container with an easy-peel foil lid, packed inside a paper box?
LE: We considered a variety of packaging formats for Peckish. The carton allowed the speed-to-market for us to test and learn with consumers. The valuable insights gathered over the past 12 months have helped influence more sustainable packaging improvements that we plan to implement in 2020.
BAS: Do you ever feel like you’ve created the next Pickle in a Bag?
LE: Haha – great question!
I can’t say we feel we have created the next Pickle in a Bag, but we do hope consumers value the ‘fresh, whole food, convenience’ attributes of both products.
Peckish delivers that true snack or mini-meal satiety with 12g to 14g of real, whole food protein that just a pickle cannot.
BAS: What’s on the horizon for the brand in terms of distribution, flavor additions and product diversification?
LE: Eggs are naturally versatile and lend themselves to a variety of product innovation paths catering to many different eating occasions.
Peckish has a robust innovation pipeline that we are excited to roll out over the coming years. We will launch line extensions (new flavors) of Peck Packs in 2020, and later this year other new fresh portable protein formats.
Peckish launched in Erewhon Organic Grocer & Café, a regional natural chain in California, in December 2018. Since then, the brand has reached the refrigerated sections in the likes of Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Fresh Thyme, Harris Teeter, and H.E.B.’s Central Market.
Egan told us players outside traditional grocery have also taken it on, including more than 50 US airport locations. Peckish recently introduced an ‘office snack box’ (a bulk fridge pack), which is available exclusively online.
“We believe the fresh, portable protein offering is perfect for travel, convenience and food service channels that will continue to be a focus for the brand.”
To that end, Peckish has made direct-to-consumer ordering an essential part of its first year.