What’s New? Brands grow as consumers eye better-for-you options

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Chicago-based brand I Heart Keenwah launched new packaging and a new line of chocolate-covered quinoa puffs, among other things.
Chicago-based brand I Heart Keenwah launched new packaging and a new line of chocolate-covered quinoa puffs, among other things.
As the number of health-conscious consumers increase, so do the number of brands touting a healthier alternative to what’s out there. Here’s an update from brands in this category that we’ve covered before.

Like beauty, the meaning of unregulated food industry buzzwords “natural” and “better-for-you” seem to ultimately be in the eye of the beholder​.  So which brands are winning the hearts of consumers, making them deem the products as worthy to stock in their pantries (or freezer)?

A good feeler for this is seeing how brands have grown. Here’s a list of four companies that recently expanded their line of offerings:

1. Arctic Zero launches seven new flavors

Arctic Zero

“In 2015, our business doubled from 2014, and in 2016, we’ll double again,” ​Amit Pandhi, Arctic Zero’s CEO, told FoodNavigator-USA.

At Expo West 2016, the frozen dessert brand unveiled seven new flavors: Chunky Pints in the flavors Brownie Blast, Snickerdoodle Dandy, and Banana Pudding; Creamy Pints in the flavors Poppin’ Pomegranate, and Cake Batter; and two for its Chocolate-Dipped Bars: Mint and Salted Caramel.

He said that it is customer awareness which is pushing sales “Customers who’ve deserted the dessert aisle, they’re coming back. They realize there is a product out there that satisfies their sweet tooth without the guilt.”

Arctic Zero got our attention before because of its use of monk fruit as a sweetener​. The brand started in 2001 as a way for founder Greg Holtman to treat his diabetic mother and sister “15 years ago, there wasn’t a product out there that wasn’t artificially flavored, colored, and filled with junk,”​ Pandhi said. Today the brand positions itself as something elevated from simply light ice cream. “It’s a new category within a category,” ​he said.

2. New products, packaging, and formulation from I Heart Keenwah

I Heart Keenwah

After going non-GMO​ last summer and joining incubator Accel Foods​, there’s been a whole lot of change for Chicago-based I Heart Keenwah.

“We introduced a new logo and updated packaging for all of our products,” ​Natalie Slater, the company’s marketing manager, told FoodNavigator-USA. We actually worked with a food stylist to create these shapes with our real products rather than Photoshopping them.”

An equally important update happened inside the package as well. “We [updated] our Quinoa Cluster recipe - adding hemp seeds, chia seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), nut butter and a touch of vanilla,”​ she said. “Not only does this give the clusters a slightly softer consistency, but we believe it helps to round-out the earthy, nutty flavor of quinoa.”

Finally, there’s the introduction of a new line altogether, their Chocolate Puffs, which is the company’s standard crunchy quinoa puff coated in organic, Fair Trade dark chocolate. “We're extremely proud to offer a chocolate-covered snack that's not only gluten-free and vegan, but is also Non-GMO Project Verified. The reception has been amazing so far, especially from the vegan community who has hailed it as a vegan malt ball,” ​Slater added.

3. Viki’s Granola launched on-the-go granola packs

Viki's Granola On-The-Go

For busy granola fans, it seems like bars are the most easy to find choice. Viki Sater, founder of eponymous Viki’s Granola brand, wanted to fill that market gap by releasing loose granola mixes in on-the-go pack sizes.

“It’s not big chunks like other granola companies,”​ Sater told FoodNavigator-USA at Expo West about her product. Two new flavors were also launched this year Banana Walnut and Apple Cinnamon hit store shelves in Spring 2016.

Last year, the brand saw sales climb a whopping 500%​ year-over-year. ​Sater thinks that her differentiator in the saturated granola category is her recipe, a mild sweetness from maple syrup and a perfectly-timed bake to make the granola loose and not too crunchy. “Everyone’s eating my product, I have little kids that eat it with yogurt, I have older people who love it—the products not too hard on the teeth,” ​Sater said.

4. Chosen Foods launches better-for-you spray oils

Chosen Foods Spray Can

Known as the makers of Avocado Oil Mayo and Chia Bites​, California-based Chosen Foods is expanding its line to put its oils in spray form.

“We really want to make it uncomplicated. We want to bridge the gap between the natural and specialty channel and the conventional market too, and get the traditionally intimidated consumer excited about simply, easy-to-use, healthy food,”​ said Natalie Morse, marketing director of Chosen Foods.

With the philosophy that consumer’s shouldn’t sacrifice healthiness for convenience, the company put its avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil and blend oil in spray canisters, filling in a gap in the market. “The traditional cooking oil spray category is filled with preservatives, GMO's, and other additives. With new air-pressure technology, we were able to put our superior cooking oils into canisters that didn't need all those extra additives,”​ she said.

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