3 firms expand into new territory with protein-packed snack launches

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

3 firms expand into new territory with protein-packed snack launches

Related tags Cheese

Several well-established manufacturers are stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding into new categories or updating iconic brands to meet consumers’ ostensibly insatiable desire for protein-packed snacks. 

For the first time, Sargento Foods is expanding its snack options beyond cheese with the launch of its individual-sized Balanced Breaks snack line. The line combines bite-sized pieces of Sargento’s iconic cheese with nuts and dried fruit for an on-the-go snack with 7 grams of protein.


The line will hit stores shelves nationwide this month and will include four flavor combinations: Natural Sharp Cheddar Cheese with Cashews and Cranberries; Pepper Jack with Peanuts and Raisins; White Cheddar with Almonds and Cranberries and White Cheddar with Cashews and Raisins.

The 1.5-ounce packages keep the cheese separate from the fruit and nuts to maximize freshness, and come in three-packs for a suggested retail price of $3.69.

The line also offers a vegetarian alternative to the emerging jerky mix category, which combines meat jerky with nuts and dried fruit for a high protein snack. It also is positioned as tool to help people stick to their “nutritious-eating plans” ​by providing a filling snack but with only 170-190 calories, the firm said. 

Boar’s Head enters snack category

Boar’s Head, a leader in the deli-products category, also expands into the snack category with a line of individually portioned products with protein derived from a variety of sources.

The brand announced April 7 its foray into snacks with the launch of five “families of portable items,”​ including individually wrapped cheese snack pouches in three flavors that will compete directly with Sargento’s more established string cheese and cheese stick snack products.

The Sarasota, Fla.-based company also launched two hummus products – a four pack of single-serving cups that come in three flavors and a combination pack that pairs gluten-free pretzels with hummus in two flavors, a spokeswoman said.

Two types of jerky also join the line-up with “no artificial colors or flavors and 10 grams of hunger-busting protein per serving,”​ the firm said. The Butcher Craft London Broil Seasoned All Natural Beef Jerky and Buffalo Style All Natural Turkey Jerky will enter an increasingly crowded meat jerky category that reached $1.1 billion in sales in 2014. According to IBISWorld​, the category will continue to grow 1.7% annually through 2019. 

Finally, the line-up includes two antipasto packs that combine a “protein-packed duo”​ of Boar’s Head Genoa Salami or Sopressata with Picante Provolone Cheese, according to the firm, which adds the combinations can be “stacked for a quick, savory, bite-sized treat or arranged on an antipasto party platter for effortless entertaining.”

The meat and cheese combinations follow similar launches by Kraft, which introduced Oscar Mayer P3 Portable Protein​ products last May and Hormel’s REV​ snack wraps that launched in 2013 and combine deli meat with cheese in a tortilla.                    

Despite the competition, the product likely will do well based on the initial success of REV, which sold nearly $30 million in the first four months after in launched.

A sweet spin on protein

Frito-Lay takes the sweet, rather than savory, approach to filling consumer desire for protein with the launch of Cracker Jack’D Protein Mix in two flavors: Peanut Butter Crunch and Double Chocolate.

The granola and peanut blends were “uniquely developed for the working male who wants a hearty and filling sweet snack that will help fuel each day to the finish line”​ with 7 grams of protein per 2.75-ounce serving, the PepsiCo division says in an April 7 announcement.


The protein mixes build on the Cracker Jack’D Hearty Mixes, which in turn are an updated twist on the firm’s iconic caramel popcorn and peanut Cracker Jack brand. The connection to Cracker Jack likely ties the new product to nostalgic childhood memories of trips to the baseball stadium. This connection to sports, which are heavily tilted towards men in the U.S., might explain why the company decided to aim the snacks towards men.

The Hearty Mixes come in Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Chocolate Caramel and Berry Yogurt, the firm adds.

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