- Brazi Bites, a maker of Brazilian cheese bread snacks, has debuted a line of empanadas, according to Food Navigator. The company is combining Latin flavors and frozen snacks with its new gluten-free, grain-free products.
- The ready-to-bake pastry turnovers are available in four varieties — Black Bean & Cheddar, Chickpea Veggie, Chicken & Cheese, and Beef & Bean — and don't contain additives, soy, sugar, flavors or preservatives. The products are being sold nationwide at Target stores and in select Costco outlets in the Midwest for a suggested retail price of $5.99 for a 10-ounce bag.
- Latin American foods are increasingly entering into frozen sections, but the company told Food Navigator frozen snacking represents an untapped space for Latin flavors and cuisine.
Brazi Bites, which launched in 2010, racked up early success with its cheese bread snacks. Their original snacks are also gluten-free since they're made with tapioca flour. With increased interest in gluten-free and the convenience of having frozen, ready-to-bake snacks, the company could have another hit on its hands.
Frozen foods saw a 2.6% increase in dollar growth last year and the retail category is worth $56.7 billion, according to the Food Marketing Institute and the America Frozen Food Institute. Additionally, global launches of RTE meals with Latin American flavors and preparation styles increased by a compound annual growth rate of 32% between 2014 and 2018, according to Innova Market Insights research cited by Food Navigator. So Brazi Bites is tapping into two hot categories with this new launch.
The market for flavorful, healthy snacks seems to be booming — and potentially more when Latin flavors and convenience are combined. Besides appealing to millennials and parents of young children, frozen, better-for-you snack products have another audience in the Latin demographic. This group is growing, and the U.S. Census Bureau expects the population will hit 62 million by next year.
Food with Latin roots has become more popular in recent years because of the growth in ethnic cuisine and in the population — as well as the increasing interest in healthier, flavorful products. Foods touting ethnic flavors grew 20% between 2013 and 2017, according to Innova Market Insights. A 2018 study from Technomic said 32% of consumers are willing to pay more for authentic items. Brazi Bites, whose co-founder hails from Brazil, celebrates authentic ingredients and products, which could help boost sales for its new frozen empanada lineup.
But Brazi Bites will have competition. In the frozen section, Conagra's Frontera brand has found a niche with salsas, snacks and frozen meals — such as tacos, fajita bowls and skillets. Goya Foods, a New Jersey-based food company founded by Spanish immigrants, also offers frozen empanadas, meals and snacks such as chorizo croquettes, chiles rellenos, arroz con pollo, taquitos and others. In yet another indicator of the sector's popularity, Goya was recently rumored to be exploring a sale.
Brazi Bites has been on an upward trajectory since it appeared on "Shark Tank" in late 2015. Distribution has grown to 7,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and revenue has jumped to $13 million from under $1 million in just two years, according to CNBC. Last summer, the company sold a majority stake to San Francisco Equity Partners, which calls itself "a leading private equity firm focused exclusively on consumer growth companies."
With this much growth in such a short period of time, more Latin-inspired foods are likely to be coming from the Brazi Bites brand in the next few years.