Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Winter Fancy Food Show, where Berkeley-based snack brand The Good Bean unveiled its new crispy favas and peas, Sarah Wallace said: “I really don’t think that consumers are suspicious [of bean-based snacks] anymore.
“I will tell you that when we first started out, there was a lot of education and on-ramping to do in terms of consumer awareness, but now it seems that consumers get chickpeas, they understand hummus and as we broaden the portfolio… we’re educating consumers and bringing them on board with other types of beans and peas.
“But you know everybody knows green peas from wasabi peas so it’s just one step forward from that,” said Wallace, who cut her CPG teeth by working on high-profile snack brands including Luna, PopChips and thinkThin before co-founding The Good Bean with former Pixar animator Suzanne Slatcher in 2010 – the same year Beanitos arrived on the scene.
Accessible flavors, accessible price points, and accessible packaging design
She added: “Our goal is to provide better healthier snacks for everyone, not just to the elite natural foods consumer, or the specialty consumer, but to everyone. We want to make beans and bean nutrition as accessible, as delicious, and as affordable as possible. So that’s through accessible flavors, accessible price points, and accessible packaging design.
“We just want to make sure we’re not intimidating anybody that can have an opportunity for a better snacking experience by offering them something too esoteric.”
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Bean snacks aren't just for natural and specialty channels or consumers
The latest product launch from the company - which debuted with roasted chickpea snacks and expanded into chips and bars - is crispy favas and peas, which are roasted with coconut oil, said Wallace.
“They are a nice complement to our roasted chickpeas, which are more crunchy… whereas the favas and-peas have a more crispy, light, chip-like texture.”
She added: “We’re using fava beans and green peas, which are a great source of protein, so you get 7g of protein per 28g serving.
“People are looking for better sources of plant protein in their snacks, and what better source of plant protein than beans? They are simple, accessible, and good for everybody.”
What better source of plant protein than beans?
Asked how retailers viewed the pulse-based snacking opportunity, she said: “I don’t know that retailers necessarily look at bean snacks as being a particular category in itself, but retailers and consumers are both looking at plant protein in snacks.”
Greener than many other sources of protein thanks to their ability to lock in nitrogen from the air into the soil, beans are replacing or supplementing rice, corn and potatoes in many snacks as formulators look to boost fiber and protein, and marketers tap into their gluten-free and non-GMO credentials, added Wallace.
"We are growing significantly year on year… and getting more mainstream acceptance and distribution in multiple channels.”