Co-owner Walker Brock told FoodNavigator-USA how he aims to position the embryonic brand: “To me, it’s a direct competition with a number of different products—if you’re going to buy a KIND Bar, because you need a snack or [you’re] on the way to the gym. Or if you’re somebody who eats trail mix, or if you’re somebody more inclined to eat fruit leather, this product triangulates those.”
Nutty Goodness can be described as a fruit leather-nut bar hybrid, cut into triangular chips which Brock called “familiar,” a shape many consumers associate with tortilla chips.
Its first five flavors hit shelves in the US Southeast region on July 4, and include Nana Rama (banana bread inspired with walnuts, spiced banana, and dates), Espress Yourself (coffee, pecans, flax seeds, and dates, to name a few), Snappy Ginger (with dates, almonds, and ginger), Pineapple Paradiso (includes shredded coconut, cashew, pineapple), and Berry Good (includes strawberry, blueberry, and hazelnuts). Each 6 oz bag sells for $9.99, and a 1.5 oz pouch is in the works.
Feeding the consumer preference for simplicity
According to Brock, the process involves fresh and instant quick freeze fruits blended with chopped raw nuts, turning it into a paste, before it's then dehydrated—a process that lets the product market itself as “raw.” The final fruit leather-like product is then cut into triangles.
Brock and his business partner Ben Ludzker get down and dirty in manufacturing the snacks along with six part-time and full-time employees in a certified kitchen space on Johns Island, near Charleston, S.C.
“We do not co-pack,” Brock said, adding that this helps control production for each flavor to have different nuts that don’t contaminate each other, creating options for every type of nut allergy (unless a consumer is allergic to all types of nuts). “We wanted to control the process from start to finish. At some point during scalability that may become a challenge, but we can also just continue to grow our facility,” he said.
“I wish it were more proprietary than it is,” Brock laughed. “It’s a very simple process, but I think the simplicity is exactly the essence of what we’re trying to convey to people—it doesn’t take a bunch of chocolate or additives or this or that to make something that’s delicious.”
'We’d like to have by the end of 2016 two Whole Foods regions for distribution'
There are 60 current retail outlets where the product is sold, including more than a dozen Whole Foods stores in the South East region imminently. Shoppers at Whole Foods in the Charleston area, who may be familiar with Nutty Goodness’ old packaging and image, will get to see the product in its brand new format.
“It’s a testament to the product that it sells well in the Southeast region, which is not known for healthy eating, we have a lot more barbecue down here,” Brock said. “So we need to get this product in markets like southern California, Chicago, New York—more metropolitan places.”
Homegrown going big
Brock and Ludzker, both real estate professionals, bought the business from a former tenant of theirs. Currently, Brock described the state of Nutty Goodness as going from a “small little mom-and-pop brand to something we want to share with the country.
“We recognized that in the market of snack food products, particularly in the on-the-go, gluten-free, non-GMO, [Nutty Goodness] was unique, and it’s not an overuse of the word, there’s really no product like it,” he said.
This transformation also involved signing on a PR and marketing firm to elevate the brand’s packaging and social media presence. Paired with the new packaging’s vibrant and colorful look is a tongue-and-cheek Instagram campaign that plays on the election season fever across the US.
It features two ken dolls—Walker and Ben—posing as politicians on a campaign trail promoting a cause to “take back the snack.” “We believe snacking has gotten kind of a bad rap,” Brock said.
“The theory there is that you don’t have to necessarily eat something that tastes bad to be healthy, and vice versa,” said Mark DeFrancis, creative director of PUBLIC NYC, the branding/media relations firm that Nutty Goodness is working with.
”So the idea was we wanted to play around with that, I think there’s a lot of ‘lesser of two evils’ going on in this campaign, so we thought about playing around with the idea of a third choice middle ground which is Nutty Goodness.”