- Rhythm Superfoods is branching out from veggie chips into fruit chips, according to NOSH. The Austin, Texas-based company will debut its crunchy mango bites at Whole Foods in March. The mango bites and crunchy pineapple will be at H-E-B in May. Chewy watermelon slices will also get to Kroger in May, the site reported. The company is also refreshing its branding during the second quarter, CEO Scott Jensen told NOSH. It is bringing back broccoli snacks and launching vegetable snacks with single-serve options.
- The company's new snack lineup is made from organic fruit and will come in resealable pouches for a suggested retail price of $3.49 for 1.4 and 1.8 ounces, depending on the variety. The new products join Rhythm's veggie-based snacks made from dehydrated beets, carrots and kale.
- The fruit snacks are a natural extension for the six-year-old company, NOSH said — particularly now that the kale boom has flattened out. "Kale became a hero. There were four or five years of this company's life where it was just hold on and meet demand," Jensen told NOSH. "Sometimes you get on that racehorse and you have to ride it to the finish. For us it was about following up with the demand that continued to grow every year. … So when the supply caught up with the demand, we could start thinking about 'what’s the next steps.' "
Rhythm Superfoods — Jensen said the name may change to simply Rhythm — has been challenged by not having kale co-packers available. It had to construct its own manufacturing facilities. But while the kale boom is slacking off, Jensen said the company's snacks made from carrots and beets have seen double-digit growth.
Getting into organic fruit chips is a logical extension since Rhythm already has technology and equipment for making veggie snacks that can work well with fruit. Jensen noted the fruit lineup was chosen because watermelons, mangoes and pineapple aren't as common as dried apples and bananas. The fruits are sourced from Mexico, which isn't far from Rhythm's Austin headquarters. That means lower shipping costs, which is important as transportation budgets skyrocket for food manufacturers.
Although the company's strategy seems to make sense in light of these realities, Rhythm will have plenty of competitors in the fruit snack category — including those being snapped up by large firms. Last year, PepsiCo acquired San Francisco-based Bare Foods, which makes baked coconut, apple and banana chips. In 2017, KIND introduced a lineup of fruit snacks called KIND Fruit Bites using real fruit and no added sugar, purees, concentrates, preservatives or genetically engineered ingredients.
Rhythm may have some advantages. For one, its fruit snack products are made from organic fruit and contain no added sugar. Also, the company has raised about $9 million to help with R&D, marketing and outreach, thanks to investment from General Mills' venture capital arm 301 INC, plus the CircleUp Growth Fund and Blueberry Ventures, NOSH reported.
Another advantage is the growing popularity of fruit-based snacks. According to a 2017 study by Innova Market Insights, they accounted for 18% of all global launches, more than twice the number five years before that. However, nutritionists point out not all such snacks are healthy just because they contain fruit. Other ingredients, such as added sugars and trans fat, are in some competitors, giving Rhythm a leg up with its clean labels.
While the company's package redesign is still in the works and won't debut until the second quarter, Jensen told NOSH it's due to the new fruit snack lineup and the company's growing audience of millennial consumers. Depending on the final design, a new image could be another advantage for Rhythm, particularly if it shortens the company's name, looks trendy, is sustainable and functional, and younger consumers can identify with it.