Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can't write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Popchips go grain free
This recently acquired growing chip brand is popping out new varieties.
Velocity Snack Brands announced Popchips is debuting two new product lines nationwide — Popchips Grain Free and Popchips Corn Chips — “to meet evolving consumer snacking habits.”
Popchips Grain Free, which come in Sea Salt and Cajun Honey flavors, are made with cassava root and popped with heat and pressure to form the airy chip. Popchips Corn Chips, which are available in Perfectly Salted flavor, are also air popped, giving them 50% less fat than fried corn chips.
This is the brand’s first product launch under its new ownership. Last year, private equity firm VMG Partners acquired Popchips as the inaugural brand for its new Velocity Snack Brands accelerator platform.
After the acquisition, Velocity CEO Amit Pandhi put together a team of CPG veterans and built the platform to acquire and grow brands like Popchips. Pandhi said in the release that the new team was able to develop these new chips in just over a year, while dealing with the pandemic.
“Concepting and delivering new products for Popchips was one of our first objectives as a company,” Pandhi said. “We have the flexibility of small start-ups with the deep expertise of larger corporate entities, all without the cumbersome standards and processes that can hinder growth potential.”
Velocity said in the release that consumers are looking for better-for-you options that don’t sacrifice on taste or texture. These snacks are non-GMO and have no artificial flavors or preservatives.
Snacking has become a more mainstream mode of eating and consumption has even grown during the pandemic. Better-for-you snacks in particular have gained popularity in recent years as more parents want to give their kids healthier versions of the junk food they ate as kids.
— Lillianna Byington
Bacon makes everything better during COVID
The old adage "bacon makes everything better" is hard to debunk. But can the smell of bacon make the coronavirus pandemic a bit more tolerable for lovers of the beloved meat product?
Hormel is launching Breathable Bacon through what it calls "a revolutionary face mask featuring the latest in pork-scented technology." The mask comes with two-ply multi-fiber cloth “to keep the delicious smell of bacon always wrapped around your nose and mouth.”
"We're continually focused on innovation — from new products, to marketing and distribution — all in an effort to deliver new and exciting ways to experience and enjoy Black Label Bacon," Nick Schweitzer, senior brand manager at Hormel Black Label Bacon, said in a statement. "In 2020, that means connecting everyone's favorite bacon scent to the year's 'it' accessory."
Hormel has rolled out a series of creative marketing innovations for its premium bacon brand Black Label. They include virtual reality experience The Black Market, music made from the sounds of bacon and creating the world's first bacon-fueled motorcycle.
While people are turning to more plant-based meat and trying to eat healthier by keeping a closer watch on the foods they consume, they still like to indulge. Few items are better suited to that than bacon.
The Foundation for Economic Education estimated the average American consumes 18 pounds of bacon annually, a weight slightly less than the average car tire. Americans spend about $5 billion each year on bacon.
While the scent of bacon in a face mask may be new, the pork product has become more than just a breakfast staple. It’s not uncommon to see bacon added to chocolate, ice cream, waffles, donuts and cocktails.
— Christopher Doering
More laughing, less cow: Bel Group gets into plant-based
Here’s how you know plant-based cheese is becoming a major trend: Renowned French cheesemaker Bel Group is getting into the segment.
Bel, known for its wedges of soft Laughing Cow cheese, small rounds of Babybel and zesty spreadable Boursin, announced it is creating a plant-based version of all its signature products. The company is also planning to launch a dedicated plant-based brand next year.
The first of these launches — Boursin Dairy-Free Cheese Spread Alternative Garlic & Herbs — is slated to debut on Amazon soon. Made with organic coconut oil and expeller-pressed canola oil, the new spread is certified plant-based and GMO-free. According to an emailed statement, it was developed in conjunction with vegan spread stalwart Follow Your Heart.
Last September, Bel Group announced a "major strategic turn," pledging to launch hybrid products that incorporate both dairy and plants, according to FoodBev. In March, Bel Group took a majority stake in French plant-based company All In Foods, which makes vegan cheese alternatives in Europe.
The launch is significant because well-known cheese companies have yet to make versions of their products without dairy. The best selling plant-based cheese brands — including Follow Your Heart, Miyoko’s Kitchen, Daiya, Good Planet, Field Roast and So Delicious — were all born out of plant-based startups. And while companies that make traditional dairy beverages, yogurt and meat have long been working in the plant-based segment, cheesemakers have been conspicuously absent.
Plant-based cheese is a fast-growing segment. According to statistics from the Good Food Institute and SPINS, the segment was worth $189 million last year. Dollar sales grew 18% since 2018, and 51% since 2017.
While plant-based is a tiny sliver of the estimated $34.3 billion U.S. cheese market, according to Allied Market Research, there are many opportunities for dairy alternative cheese makers to make a dent. According to IRI statistics reported in Winsight Grocery Business, more than 95% of American households buy cheese. The average American ate more than 38 pounds of cheese in 2019, USDA statistics show.
Bel Group has the right idea to get more consumers buying plant-based cheese. If more cheesemakers can do this — as well as improve their craft so non-vegans would want to buy it — they could be raking in the cheddar.
— Megan Poinski