The recipe for Beanfield’s snack chips was completely improvised. “Reed and Roy were talking and talking about a bean and rice chip. I just got a little fed up with all the talk, and I went into the kitchen and started mixing up ingredients,” Liza Braude-Glidden, one of Beanfield Snacks’ founders, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Her husband, Reed, is the other co-founder, who has long worked in the natural foods industry. The third co-founder, Roy, is Liza’s brother-in-law. “According to IRi data, Beanfields [is] the fastest growing chip in our category. And of the top 10 better-for-you snack brand, we’re number eight, and Beanfields Snacks is the only one family-owned,” she said. “That means the success we’ve achieved has been done with a tiny fraction of our nearest competitors’ capitals.”
Convincing the doubtful manufacturer
Not long after the fateful day Liza came up with a bean and rice chip recipe from scratch, the first chips rolled off the conveyer belt in 2011. Despite the seemingly quick turnaround between conception and production, it took some convincing to get a manufacturer to jump on board with their product.
The team set strict parameters for their co-packer. They wanted a company that was local, and one that “wouldn’t charge an arm and a leg for very small runs.”
“We were a new concept, we didn’t know if people would like it, and we’re not a capital intensive company,” Liza said. On top of that, they wanted ingredients to be kosher, vegan, gluten-free, and all non-GMO verified. It took Liza and Reed four trips to a facility in the central valley to convince them to actually try a run and convince them that the Gliddens were serious.
“They kept pooh-poohing the idea. Reed was very persistent though, and these [manufacturers] have made tortilla chips and corn chips for decades,” said Amrit Khalsa, CFO of Beanfields. “When they finally made the chips, they were excited. They called Reed and said ‘Come up here—these chips are amazing.’”
The way Amrit puts it, this was their first ever “taste test” outside of close family and friends, “the chip experts at the factory who said ‘you got something here’ after the very first batch.”
The team behind Beanfields intentionally stuck to conventional chip flavors for their product, such as nacho, ranch, sea salt, and barbecue. “We wanted to do a better job of all the most iconic snack flavors,” Liza said. “We took our ideas from the existing market place, but we sourced them from better ingredients.”
“And we made them not just kosher and gluten-free, but also vegan,” Amrit said. “Doritos’ nachos is the best-selling chip in the market, and I think we’ve done a great job making a product as good as theirs flavour-wise, but its vegan and gluten free.”
Keeping it local
According to Liza, the Beanfields team is more involved in finding suppliers than most other brands that manufacture their chips at the same facility. “All of our major materials—bean, rice, oil—come from within the United States,” she said. “We try to source everything, wherever possible, as local as possible. Believe it or not, every Beanfield bag is manufactured in Los Angeles county.”
Administrative operations are based in the Glidden’s living room in Los Angeles. Employees come to work in their home every day. “We save a lot on commuting that way.”
Speaking of sustainability, Liza explained that beans are a drought resistant crop, making it a good ingredient to source locally from Beanfields’ home state. “In fact bean farmersget more upset when the soil is water-logged than they do when it’s dry.”
Liza contends that a lot of water is used for the meat industry, and by being a dedicated vegan company, consumers that support Beanfields is also “supporting a company that does not use animal products.”