- Organic chickpea snack brand Hippeas raised $10 million from CAVU Venture Partners, which will help the company reach its goal of tripling revenue in 2018, according to Baking Business. CAVU's focus on better-for-you brands — its portfolio includes such names as Vitaminwater, Chef’s Cut, Vita Coco, High Brew and Bai — is a good fit. In the past, Hippeas has benefited from investments by actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Strand Equity Partners.
- “Hippeas is redefining plant-based snacking with their tasty organic chickpea puffs and unique branding,” Brett Thomas, co-founder and managing partner of CAVU, who will now also join Hippeas' board of directors, told the publication. “Their product reflects the desires of today’s consumer — to eat delicious, convenient snacks that are healthy and have a positive social impact.”
- It’s been more than a year since its July 2016 launch, yet the brand has already penetrated more than 100,000 “big name” retail outlets across the U.S. and UK, including Kroger, Safeway, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Whole Foods and Starbucks — a huge leap from the 18,500 stores carrying the brand in March. Products are also sold online at Amazon and Thrive Market.
Despite startup Hippeas being a relative newcomer, it's on a strong growth trajectory.
“We really need to keep growing the business, the team, our field marketing, our digital work, our social [channels] and set up our e-commerce. We think we can be a $100 million brand within the next three to four years,” Livio Bisterzo, CEO and co-founder, told Project Nosh.
The company's future looks promising for a multitude of reasons, none the least of which is the position it's carved out, serving a unique niche in the high-growth plant-based market. Many companies are investing in better-for-you snacks.
According to Research and Markets, the global chickpeas market reached a volume of 15.4 million tons last year, and posted a CAGR of 6% from 2009 to 2016. The timing of the chickpea puffs product is timely as consumers become more familiar with the legume as a plant-based, high-protein food. Piggybacking off the success and widespread interest in chickpea-based hummus, such as the Sabra brand, doesn't hurt either.
The trend toward healthier eating and snacking options also bodes well for the company. On average, consumers eat about four to five snack foods a day, according to Datassential's MenuTrends Keynote snacking report. Yet people tend to overestimate the number of healthy snacks — like fruit, nuts, yogurt and vegetables — they eat per day.
In reality, they eat more salty and crunchy snacks. An estimated 48% of people consumed at least one salty snack a day, according to Datassential's report. Hippeas salty-tasting yet good-for-you snacks give consumers the best of both worlds.
As consumers become more skeptical of Big Food, startups are capitalizing on opportunities to increase their market share and Hippeas is no exception. The company leverages the fact that it’s an innovative, entrepreneurial startup with a story.
Not only does the snack’s taste, nutritional profile and texture appeal to a wide audience with lifestyle and/or special dietary needs — Hippeas are non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and kosher — the company has a corporate conscience. It uses a portion of its profits to support chickpea producers through Farm Africa — the kind of mission tailor-made to attract consumers, especially millennials.
Finally, Hippeas made some smart moves earlier this year, hiring experienced CPG veterans to help it grow, especially if the goal is a potential acquisition by a larger manufacturer. The team in place has experience in working with smaller companies (such as barkTHINS, Krave, Babyganics and Pirate Brands), some of which were able to make good on their own and get picked up by a major manufacturer.
barkTHINS are Krave have both been purchased by Hershey. It would not be surprising to see Hippeas or another trendy upstart get purchased by a food food manufacturer hungry for growth in the near future.