Crave’s Wots’inits: Is ‘Aldi’s Next Big Thing’ set to take on Walker’s Wotsits?

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Crave’s Wots’inits: Is ‘Aldi’s Next Big Thing’ set to take on Walker’s Wotsits?

Related tags CRAVE Walkers Aldi Peatos

Rob Brice – founder of vegan and allergen-friendly crisp brand Crave – is the winner of the Store Cupboard category of Aldi's Next Big Thing, flighted on Channel 4 last month, which secured him a special buy listing for his Pickled Onion Monster Feet and Smokey Bacon Streakers.

It took more than six months of preparing, presenting and performing to win the one-off listing in the UK retail giant, but the win meant a massive 52,000 unit order for Crave.

The order was a once-off ‘special buy’, but the London-based producer is hoping for more exciting things to follow.

“It's our biggest order so far and also in one-hit, as well,” ​said Brice.

“So what happens – the show airs on the Thursday, the winner gets announced … and the next morning product goes into store, but it's only instore for seven days.”

He added, “We were the fastest selling of the winners they'd had so far and we sold the most over day one and day two … and I think we sold out I think mid this week,” ​he added, meaning it’s ‘likely’ this could result in a repeat order.

“I had a chat with the buyer and there's definitely some opportunities for next year in the same sort of vein with the Wats’inits we developed for the show. We just couldn't turn it around in time from the end of filming to make it all happen. So it, will be nice to see that on an Aldi shelf, maybe early next year.”

David vs Goliath

Crave 1

After a successful presentation to the Aldi team, Crave was selected as one of two category finalists. The next stage of the process required Brice to come up with a brand-new product, complete with packaging design within two weeks; so enter a maize snack with a Flamin’ Hot flavour called Wots’inits – which, like his other offerings – are designed to be gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan.

Although Brice had not heard of PeaTos and founder Nick Desai’s disruptive approach​ in taking on Frito-Lay’s Cheetos and Funyans,​he admitted the concept behind the new crisps is in the same vein.

“There are all these products that are out there and you look at some of the snacks, some of the big guys, they've probably got allergens in them they don't need (a lot of them are in the seasonings),” ​said Brice.

But, “there's massive volumes coming out of these lines [at the factory], so slowing them down to make them free from and testing them is not really viable.

“So, there's a gap in the market for that.

“Essentially, we’re a free from brand, but we’re vegan as well because we don’t contain any milk or eggs. We’ll never contain any animal [products] … but part of our USP, I would say, is to imitate other well-known brands.”

Going mainstream

Crave 2

Brice added, “We’re starting in the free from and vegan aisles of retailers, but I want Crave to establish itself as a main brand across the supermarket.

“There’s no reason why we can't move into standard aisles and merchandise the snacks alongside the bigger brands: the Walkers, the Kettles and brands like that.”

A veteran of the food industry and helping other players launch NPD, Brice wanted to own his own brand that could be enjoyed by everyone, and launched Crave in 2020.

“My inspiration for Crave was seeing that so many free-from foods were either bland and boring or firmly focussed on health, I wanted to shake things up, bring bold flavour and a bit of fun,” ​said Brice.

Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, life for Brice is equally unpredictable, but hard work and dedication is finally paying off.

“[My advice for others…:] don't give up. It's super difficult out there and if you've got to be proactive,” ​he told this site.

“The space is super tough and there's only so much supermarket shelves can … stretch, so you’ve got to have something that really stands out. It’s got to have a point of difference over everything else.

“If you’ve got a dream … just keep going, whether it’s a snack or a readymeal that you believe in, just keep pushing.

“There's so many times when you get knocked back, but you just never know what opportunity is coming.”

Stand out to fit in

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Sage advice from a start-up that is standing on the precipice of a great future.

“I think our pitch went down well and we tried to get across who we are and how we like to do things a bit differently… We always say, ‘we stand out, so you fit in’ – so that’s what we tried to do,”​ said Brice.

“The whole filming experience was surreal and unreal.

“As a start-up brand, we were pinching ourselves to even have this opportunity and potential exposure on TV. It’s a money-can’t-buy sort of thing for us, and we were super happy to have got that far.”

Listen to the podcast to find out more about the placement, the product and its potential future.

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