Is Hippeas trying to see which Big Food player will give peas a chance?
- Chickpea snack brand Hippeas announced Tuesday that Joe Serventi, who joined the company in 2017 as general manager, is promoted to global CEO, according to a press release from the company.
- The brand, which launched in July 2016 in Starbucks stores, is currently available in nearly 100,000 retail locations and has seen triple digit growth in the last year. Hippeas can now be found at retailers including Whole Foods, Wegmans and Kroger, and recently it secured distribution in select CVS, Target and Costco stores.
- Hippeas founder Livio Bisterzo said in the release that the company could grow into a $100 million brand in the next three years. "When Joe joined Hippeas last year, we knew he would play a key role in driving the brand forward, rapidly increasing distribution and building out an industry leading team," Bisterzo said.
As a trendy better-for-you snack company with rapid expansion, enviable profits and at least $10 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, Hippeas easily looks like an acquisition target. Its corporate parent, Bisterzo's Green Park Brands, bills itself as a "brand incubating company."
But Serventi's promotion to CEO may do more to paint an acquisition target on the brand than anything else. Serventi's resume shows that he is a veteran with plenty of experience in preparing small companies for big sales.
Before Serventi joined Hippeas, he was the leader of three smaller brands that were picked up in major acquisitions. He was executive vice president at barkTHINS, where he established the snack in a competitive marketplace and then sold it to Hershey. Before that, Serventi was a member of the Pirate Brands management team, helping to reinvigorate the brand before selling to B&G Foods for $195 million. And going back to the start of his career, Serventi spent 10 years at Glaceau, owner of Vitaminwater and Smartwater, which Coca-Cola bought for $4.1 billion.
Serventi left each of those three companies within 12 months of agreeing a sale, according to BevMedia. Looking at his resume of past experience, he doesn’t seem to join a brand unless it's time to sell it.
Hippeas' growth has been drawing attention from big brands and big celebrities. Even Leonardo Dicaprio invested in the vegan snack company just last year.
The healthy snack checks all the boxes of what consumers are looking for today. The better-for-you snack brand is in a segment that more companies have been trying to break into. Hippeas is organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan.
Large companies have been reinventing their product lines and investing in nutritious options to be more health-focused and are on the prowl for a company like Hippeas to buy. This could be another good brand for PepsiCo to add to its healthier snacking options of Bare Foods and Sabra. Or maybe it could help Hershey build out its snacking portfolio as the company seeks to expand beyond chocolate. The real question is who in Big Food may give peas a chance.
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