Whisps taps Applegate president as new CEO to unleash next wave of growth

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: Applegate/Whisps
Photo Credit: Applegate/Whisps

Related tags Snacks Salty snacks Whisps Cheese Crisps

Fast-growing cheese snacks brand Whisps appoints John Ghingo, former president at Applegate, as its new CEO to lead the brand's next chapter of growth and tap into consumers' growing appetite for cheese snacks.

Current CEO, Ilana Fischer, who took Whisps independent in 2019 after launching Whisps inside of Schuman Cheese, will continue on with the brand through a new role as an advisor for the board and executive leadership team.

Ghingo, who in addition to his leadership stint at Applegate worked at The Whitewave Company (Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free) and Mondelēz (Oreo, Cadbury, Trident, and Belvita), knows how to build a household brand.

"In both my time at Applegate and the 17+ years prior growing remarkable brands, I've learned the most critical foundation for any company is to understand what the consumer needs and wants, ensuring that the taste and the overall product experience we create delights consumers and solves a need in their lives,"​ Ghingo told FoodNavigator-USA. 

"For many, the expectation of quality goes beyond the product. Consumers expect real, clean food made from recognizable ingredients and full transparency from a company as to how the product is made and sourced. I've also seen how a strong brand can deliver innovative new product platforms that transcend consumer needs and open up pathways for business expansion. From new locations and channels to new consumer occasions and needs, a strong brand proposition can be extended more successfully."

Where next for Whisps?

Simple in its approach and formulation, Whisps taps into many consumers' love for cheese by making it snackable. The brand uses a proprietary baking process which concentrates the cheesy flavor of the cheese without any of the oiliness, resulting in bite-sized crunchy cheese crisps with 13g of protein, 0g of sugar, and 1g of carbohydrates per serving.

Whisps' 100% real cheese core snacks portfolio includes three pure cheese varieties (Parmesan, cheddar and asiago pepper jack) and five spiced varieties (Tangy Ranch, Nacho, Garlic Herb, Barbeque, Hot & Spicy).


“The average American consumes approximately 40 pounds of cheese per year, creating an immense opportunity for Whisps to grow,”​ commented Iris Snyder, chief financial officer of Whisps.

Already in 65,000 doors and achieving a 7.5% household penetration, the fast-growing cheese snack company has further ambitions to expand production and open new distribution channels for its existing products. 

"While the cheese snacking category is relatively young, it has grown exponentially and is ripe for both continued expansion and innovation. As consumers continue to seek out real, convenient, and delicious foods, the opportunity for a real cheese platform like Whisps is immense,"​ noted Ghingo, who said there are many more new consumers who have yet to try the brand.

Part of the brand's strategy to reach new consumers will be through new product innovation, said Ghingo. 

"With an obsession on quality and taste, Whisps has seen that when people try its products like cheese crisps, they love it and will repeat purchase. So the challenge becomes filtering the best ideas and applying our rigorous quality and R&D standards to the process while maintaining speed to market. We cannot also lose sight of our core product -- cheese crisps -- as we innovate as it is imperative that the product experience is great each and every time,"​ added Ghingo. 

The brand has also dipped its toes into areas beyond the salty snacks category with its launch of Cheese Crumbs, an alternative to breadcrumbs made with 100% Parmesan cheese & spices just like its cheese crisps, in December 2021. 

"This innovation was inspired by our customers who already use Whisps in their culinary creations and is a fun test for us as it’s our first foray outside of true snacking. We're looking forward to continuing to explore additional categories where we can bring our real cheese credentials and obsession with taste and quality to help inspire and delight consumers,"​ noted Ghingo.

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