From the start, SuperEats’ co-founders Aaron Gailmor and Charlie Ruehr wanted their crunchy, tortilla-like Kale + Chia Chips to be distributed nationwide, which is why they “very intentionally” approached UNFI as their first distributor and worked with a food broker to help sell their chips.
“UNFI was the first business that we introduced our chips to and they liked our product a lot, and fortunately backed us and set us up to distribute in all major markets” right away, Gailmor said.
He and Ruehr quickly realized that as the only two full-time employees of SuperEats, they could not manage alone the sales across the country.
“If we could have gone to every sales meeting, we would have. But two people cannot cover that much ground. So we set up with a broker that enabled us to have a sales force in all major markets to talk with different retailers,” and to ensure the products were well positioned and promoted in their stores, Gailmor said.
He also noted that hiring a third-party sales team helped compensate for his and Ruehr’s initial lack of experience selling national food products. However, Gailmor was quick to note that Ruehr ran a successful olive oil company prior to the creation of SuperEats and is able to apply his experience.
With this support network in place, SuperEats quickly caught the attention of other major distributors and the business grew rapidly, Gailmor said.
While effective, this strategy also is expensive.
To meet the capital demand necessary to “continue this momentum,” SuperEats teamed with fundraising website CircleUp to find investors who can help “keep this going,” Gailmor said.
On the fundraising website, SuperEats promotes the uniqueness and potential longevity of its Kale + Chia Chips as the “the only ‘dippable’ tortilla chip-like snack made of kale on the market.”
Gailmor emphasized that SuperEats’ chips are different from the ubiquitous, but flimsy, baked or dehydrated kale chips that have taken the natural channel by storm in the last few years.
He explained that SuperEats’ chips come in a familiar sturdy triangle format that can easily be swapped in for tortilla chips, and therefore, are less intimidating for snackers familiar with the conventional food.
He also noted that while baked kale chips have been around for years, there are still a lot of people who have not tried them because they are put off by the texture and format of a baked vegetable.
By making the Kale + Chia Chips in a familiar format and packaging it in a traditional pillow bag, rather than a clear box in which many kale chips are packed, Gailmor said he hopes SuperEats can “build a bridge” for the conventional snack category to the better-for-you snack segment.
For these reasons, SuperEats chips also come in traditional chip flavors, including sea salt, cheddar and ranch. They also have more adventurous flavors that also are on trend, including chili-lime and tomato basil, according to its website.
Millennials in the crosshairs
As a familiar, yet better-for-you snack, the chips target consumers who are looking to “turn over a new leaf” and eat healthier, but who also don’t want to give up their favorite foods, Gailmor said.
“Overall, we ended up making the chips for ourselves,” which also positions the founding duo well for feeling out consumer reaction to potential new product launches going forward, he said.
Gailmor noted that SuperEats plans to launch at least one new product a year to keep the brand “relevant” to consumers. The products likely will follow the same format as the Kale + Chia Chips in that they will “change up ingredients” in legacy foods to create healthier, new and exciting snacks, he said.
Gailmor also acknowledged that while kale isn’t grabbing the limelight the same way it did for a while, it “has staying power” and is not over yet.
He explained that kale is so nutritious, inexpensive and versatile that it can be mixed into peoples’ diets in a variety of ways.
“Innovation in kale, in general, has a long way to go,” he concluded.