With more homebound consumers making breakfast a standard part of their morning routine, Kind is attempting to grab a bigger portion of the meal with its first frozen snack offering aimed at the category.
The self-described healthy snacking company said its new Kind Frozen Smoothie Bowls contain plant-based, nutrient-dense ingredients that are a better-for-you alternative in a frozen food breakfast aisle dominated by refined flours and animal proteins. Kind's goal is to bring to the fast-growing $3.7 billion frozen breakfast category the same disruption it brought to bars 15 years ago.
The smoothie bowl marks the latest development in a period of rapid of expansion for Kind, which last year was purchased by Mars for a price tag valuing it at more than $5 billion. Mars took a minority stake in Kind in 2017.
Since the beginning of 2020, Kind has moved into frozen, refrigerated, chocolate, energy bars and snack mixes. Sales have risen to more than $1.5 billion annually.
"We've gotten more ambitious about extending that Kind promise into new categories and new occasions," CEO Mike Barkley said in an interview. "We are going to continue to push the boundaries as to where Kind can go."
Barkley, a CPG veteran with prior roles at Pinnacle Foods, PepsiCo and Campbell Soup, said Kind first started working on the bowl in 2018. But it needed time to innovate in frozen foods, a category where it didn't have a lot of prior experience. To quicken development, Kind tapped into Mars' expertise working with dairy and plant-based options as well as its insight into manufacturing and transporting a cold product.
"We were able to enter the category faster and probably in a stronger way than we could have on our own," he said.
The new bowls contain a fruit and almond milk base and are topped with creamy nut butter and crunchy granola. Each offering, which can be consumed straight from the freezer, has no more than 9 grams of added sugar and 8 grams of protein. Kind's Smoothie Bowls come in Almond + Mango Pineapple Passion Fruit, Almond + Triple Berry Açaí, Almond + Chocolate Banana, and Almond + Peach Kiwi Greens.
The nationwide rollout starts this month following a softer launch in the fourth quarter of 2020 at Walmart, Target and other retailers.
Kind's expansion in breakfast comes as the category experiences a much-needed resurgence. A 2019 survey of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll and Sabra had found the average person ate breakfast just three times a week, while 13% rarely, if ever, ate the meal. And Mintel found the importance of the breakfast occasion was shrinking. In 2018, half of consumers agreed breakfast is more important than lunch or dinner, compared to 55% four years earlier, the market intelligence agency said.
But the coronavirus outbreak has forced more people to work from home and children to attend school remotely. While families still have a hectic morning getting ready for the day, there is more time to have a breakfast that is a bit more leisurely — a change that provides food makers with the opportunity to reengage with consumers who may have altered their consumption habits or abandoned the meal altogether.
Barkley said Kind already has a "strong foothold" in the morning meal with breakfast bars, grain bars and granola. The smoothie bowl mirrors the versatility of its other offerings because it can be consumed sitting down at home or rushing out the door on the way to school or work. With uncertainty as to when people will be able to return to the office — and whether they will choose to when given the opportunity — the flexibility of Kind's product lineup should be helpful.
"It wasn't accelerated [because of the pandemic], although the timing is certainly fortuitous," Barkley said of the launch of the smoothie bowl. "We just think whenever we launch an innovative premium product under Kind, it's going to elevate the consumer experience. It's always good timing if you get it right."