The company, which currently sells eight flavors of low-calorie and low-sugar fruit and veggie pops that are packed with vitamins, nutrients and fiber from fruit and veggie purees, has ambitious plans to expand its portfolio to include 25 products by the end of next year, CEO Marcia Bateson told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained in the next two to three months the firm will launch a top-secret new snack that will be “really, really creamy and kind of like yogurt” but without all the added sugar in many mainstream packaged yogurts, Bateson said.
In addition, because the snack, which Bateson referred to as “tubes,” will be a non-dairy, coconut-cream based product, it will be shelf stable, which means it is safe to carry unrefrigerated in purses, gym bags and lunch boxes before eating.
Bateson said the company wanted the snack to be plant-based and dairy-free because “in our nation of 320 million people, there are at least 50 million who are lactose intolerant and there are other people who may tolerate dairy, but don’t like it or feel bloated after they have dairy.”
Indeed, the plant-based dairy alternative category is booming and consumers increasingly are looking for nondairy alternatives to classic dairy foods.
New product, same values
The new product may appear to be a sharp deviation from frozen pops, but in many ways it shares the same nutritional values, such as low-sugar, Bateson said.
The popsicles have only four to six grams of sugar, compared to the mid- to upper-teens of sugar grams in competing products. In addition, the pops are packed with 500 million CFU per pop of probiotics that are not cultured in yeast, which makes them allergen-free, according to the firm’s website.
The pops also are gluten-free, vegan, free from high fructose corn syrup and KOF-K Kosher certified.
Also, because the pops include fiber from the beets, sweet potatoes, avocados, squash and multiple fruits used to make them, consumers “feel a little bit full” when they eat them, even though they have only 30-40 calories per pop, Bateson said.
She added the healthy profile of the pops has prompted some schools and hospitals to ask the company to repackage the product in a cup to make it a spoonable treat.
Some of the recently raised funds will go to exploring this possibility, which would extent the window for delivering the dessert to patients or children from the freezer to about 45 minutes.
In addition, the firm is planning several new flavors for the original pops line-up, Bateson said.
Building brand awareness
The funds from CircleUp also will go towards building brand awareness by taking the pops on the road.
“Not enough people know about our amazing products and so … we are launching an eight-city tour” where a branded van will drive down the West Coast and into the heart of Texas to give away samples, Bateson said.
The marketing push also should help the firm reach its goal to triple revenue annually and expand distribution.
The firm already is making strides in this direction with an expected $2.5 million in revenue in 2015 compared to $54,000-$75,000 in 2013. In addition the pops now are sold in 3,000 stores and online compared to only 75 stores in 2013.
Providing a solution to a problem
Bateson attributed the growth so far to being an “execution-oriented” firm that sets “really precise goals that always use action verbs and concrete nouns,” such as expanding distribution to 1,000 new stores in a year.
In addition, she said, the pops have grown because they are “a real solution to a real problem.”
She explained, “All our snacks give Americans something they want but can’t find and that is delicious food that is truly good for us … and which is affordable and accessible to all income and social brackets.”
She added that she is “disappointed, if not angry, with big food and big supply chains for feeding families in our nation and me basically crap that is convenient for them, easy to grow and has a long shelf life … but isn’t truly good for us.”
By contrast, she said, “a cardinal rule for Ruby Rocket's is every ingredient you see eon our ingredient panel must a word that a six year old can read and visualize.”
Plus, she said, they are delicious, healthy and portable.