“There currently is a breakdown of the three meals a day, so that consumers have really more of a grazing habit. Depending on your starting point, if you are a food company, it is the snackification of meals, or if you are a snack company it is the mealification of snacks,” said Jeremy Cage, co-founder of Farmer’s Pantry.
“And this convergence of more substantial snacks, is directly the sweet spot of Farmer’s Pantry,” he explained to FoodNavigator-USA.
“We are a substantial snacks company” with a mission “to feed the hunger of working Americans across the country” by “transforming authentic and identifiable ingredients you would find in a farmer’s pantry and making them into wholesome snacks,” he said.
What this means is that instead of offering 100-calorie packs or small bite-sized treats designed to tide over consumers until the next meal, Farmer’s Pantry’s line of Meal Snacks are designed to be a mini-meal that is more in tune with how busy Americans are eating today, Cage said.
He explained that the Meal Snacks, which currently are available in three varieties, are hearty meals slow-roasted into a crunchy snack. Each snack includes a type of jerky -- chicken or turkey -- that is paired with crunchy fruits, vegetables and croutons for a more complete eating experience.
“When you sit down for a meal, you don’t typically just sit down with a piece of meat on its own. Or you don’t sit down with a piece of chocolate or a piece of meat with nuts and seeds. You typically sit down and have it with vegetables,” which is why Farmer’s Pantry pairs jerky with roasted vegetables such as corn, carrots and peas that are “hardy and crunchy,” Cage said.
A new kind of packaging for a new kind of snack
The company keeps the jerky tender and the fruits, veggies and croutons crunchy by using a unique two-sided pouch with a soft seal in the middle that is easily broken with the bag is opened, allowing the consumer to combine the meat and vegetables, or eat them separately if they want, Cage.
“The intent of that packaging is to enable the meat to stay moist and the vegetables to stay nice and crunchy. If you don’t have it, and you just put it all together as many people have tried, then you have moisture migration from one to the other,” Cage said. “So, you get moisture moving from the meat to the vegetables or whatever else you have in the bag ... that means the meat gets harder and the vegetables would get softer and taste stale. So, you would have a really poor consumer experience.”
The packaging, combined with the familiarity of jerky and popularity of crunchy, salty snacks, makes Farmer’s Pantry’s Meal Snacks both relevant and highly distinctive, which Cage says is a recipe for cutting through the clutter of competition and long-term success.
He explains that as the snacking trend continues to expand, “you do see a lot of sameness with snacks that are only slightly different from each other,” but similarity usually signals a snack is relevant to modern consumers and will have lasting impact even if it doesn’t jump out on the shelf.
On the flip side, he added, “if you are highly distinctive you standout, but run the risk of not being particularly relevant and becoming a fad.”
Farmer’s Pantry, however, straddles both elements as a highly relevant snack that also is distinctive enough in concept to standout, Cage said. As a result, he predicts fast uptake and long-term sales.
In addition, now that Farmer’s Pantry has “cracked the packaging,” Cage says it will develop more options, including ones for day parts other than late afternoon or eating occasions.
Rooting snacks in American values
Farmer’s Pantry offers a more traditional snack line as well. But just like the Meal Snacks, the company’s Cornbread Crisps are rooted in Americana.
Also like the Meal Snacks, Farmer’s Pantry says the crisps are a “revolutionary product” because they take a baked American staple -- corn bread -- and make it snackable by slicing and baking it into a crunchy on-the-go option. In this sense, the crisps fill the same role as potato chips, but are heartier and baked, not fried, for a healthier option, Cage said.
The crisps and meal snacks are all made with ingredients sourced from American farmers, a value that also is reflected in the company’s Feed Your Hunger give-back campaign.
“The brand was developed to literally feed your hunger … and the way we are doing that is by sourcing only from US family farms,” but the company also wants to feed consumers’ desire to do good by supporting five farmer-oriented organizations that have a shared goal of helping US farms not just survive, but really thrive, Cage said.
He explained that those organizations include Farm Aid, Farm Land Trust, Family Farm Charities, Veterans Farm and National Young Farmers.
Recognizing that is a lot of charities to try and support meaningfully, Cage said the company and charities are in an introductory period and as they get to know each other better, “over time we will whittle down to one or two” to work with long term.