- Mondelēz International's Dirt Kitchen brand is testing a better-for-you snack bar created using a technology that can combine different ingredients without the use of binders and added sugar. The technology, developed by Torr FoodTech in Israel, uses mechanical pressure and processes like ultrasound energy to create a product with a unique multi-texture and sensorial taste profile as compared to a typical bar.
- Dirt Kitchen, which was created through SnackFutures, Mondelēz's innovation and venture arm, has so far focused on chip-like snacks made of vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini and green beans. The process developed by Torr enables the use of other ingredients to expand the flavor profile of the brand geared toward a consumer looking to eat healthier.
- The companies plan to roll out the four flavors — tomato, raisin and black pepper; apricot, beets and pumpkin seeds; almond, raisin and carrot; and apple, cinnamon and carrot — in about 50 of the few hundreds stores that currently carry Dirt Kitchen, and on the brand's website. Mondelēz and Torr will reassess after three to six months once they have collected consumer feedback before determining how to move forward.
Mondelēz has made a name for itself with household staples such as Oreo, Ritz and Triscuit but the snacking giant is preparing for a future where consumers will want variety that in many cases is healthier for them. About a year ago, Mondelēz invested in Torr, and now a year later it is bringing the company's cutting-edge technology to one of its own, albeit smaller brands, in what amounts to a low-risk bet on the future.
Rob Hargrove, executive vice president of research, development and quality at Mondelēz, said the new offerings include a number of firsts for the company. Torr was SnackFutures' first investment in a food processing technology as opposed to a specific food brand.
It also taps into Dirt Kitchen, one of the first brands the Mondelēz incubator created in-house as part of a broader effort to find and create early-stage snack brands. In addition, the bars debut a unique multi-texture and maintain the nutritional values of the original ingredients because they are not subjected to high temperatures.
“It’s a texture that I don’t think consumers have really experienced before in any of their snacking,” Hargrove said in an interview. “We’re excited about the potential for this technology. We’re going to know in six months whether our excitement is well founded.”
Since SnackFutures was launched by Mondelēz in 2018, the division has created and launched five brands in the U.S. and Europe: CaPao, Dirt Kitchen Snacks, Millie Gram, NoCOé, and Ruckus and Co. It also has made minority investments in Uplift Food, Hu, and Torr. In January, Mondelēz purchased Hu, a maker of premium snacks and chocolates made from simple ingredients.
The use of Torr's technology is an example of outside-of-the-box thinking that could lead to the next great product or, at the very least, allow Mondelēz to collect valuable insight it could incorporate into its portfolio. The new bars provide fresh evidence that incubators like SnackFutures are doing more than just investing and also looking for distinctive ways to stand out in a crowded snacking category where consumer preferences are constantly in flux.
Hargrove said while the new bars using Torr's work is a test and will undoubtedly be subjected to further refinement, he was optimistic the technology could one day find its way into other brands at Mondelēz, including potentially some of its larger existing brands.
“I would be foolish not to have that mindset with such good technology as we start out small to think about what might be,” he said. “If we get the consumer response that we are excited enough to dream about at this stage, I think those sorts of ideas would definitely be on the table.”
Roy Naaman, CEO and co-founder of Torr, said while the technology "opens the door to bring more different flavors, different visuals and a very interesting texture” to a better-for-you brand, consumer feedback will be key toward creating a snack that can last, especially one that is pushing the boundaries of snacking.
“It doesn’t matter how much you plan in the most efficient way — you always get new inputs from consumers,” Naaman said. “The technology, of course, is powerful, it’s at the heart of our company, but satisfying consumers and creating snacks that they like to eat, this is what the real aim is. If people don't buy it, then your technology won’t help serve the world with better snacks.”