“Most of the chickpea snacks in the market are Indian-style roasted chickpeas, which I like personally, but Lebby’s roasted chickpeas are different” because they are slow-roasted in the Mediterranean style, which takes 45 days to soak, roast and rest multiple times, company co-founder and CEO Onur Oz told FoodNavigator-USA at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City in June.
The result is a “unique texture that is softer than you would expect from a chickpea snack and when you bite into it, it blends very nicely with the flavors, revealing the aroma of [the] natural ingredients we use,” he said.
Lebby’s flavor combinations also set its chickpea snacks apart from the pack. While others tend to be dusted in a savory powder, Lebby offers three sweet options that fulfill the emerging desire for permissible indulgence.
These include a cinnamon crunch, a dark chocolate and a sesame honey in which the chickpeas are dipped, rolled or otherwise coated in a shell of flavor. This allows consumers to taste each component of the snack when they bite into the chickpeas, Oz said.
“Indulgence-wise, Lebby is doing a really good job of blending chickpea benefits,” such as 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving, “with the indulgence that people are always looking for,” he added.
The fourth flavor – hot chili – also is on trend as Americans reach for more spice. It also expands the day parts in which Lebby’s chickpea snacks are eaten and how they are consumed – going from not just a snack but to a salad topper or chewy addition to a savory meal, Oz said.
To facilitate these different eating styles, Lebby plans to sell its chickpea snacks in two sizes – a 1.5 ounce pouch that is great for on-the-go snacking and a larger 5 ounce resealable pack that is easy to share with family and friends or use as an ingredient in larger dishes.
The company also is updating the packaging. Oz explained the new packaging in the US will resemble brown craft paper to represent the product’s naturalness and artisanal aspects, and will use speech bubbles to create an educational conversation with consumers about what the product is and what it has to offer.
More room to grow
Looking at the category as a whole, Oz acknowledges that there are a lot of players in the chickpea snack space, but he said there is still plenty of room for innovation and noted that for now competitors still need to work together to raise consumer awareness about chickpeas.
“Food likes hummus and falafel, which are chickpea-based, are doing a great job of basically getting Americans’ taste buds used to chickpeas, but I think most people still need to be made aware of chickpeas in general,” and need help seeing them in more creative ways – such as coated in chocolate, Oz said.
“When people see chickpeas and chocolate combined the response I get most is, ‘Oh my god?! Really?’ And when I encourage them to try it, they really like it – so there is more to do out there,” he said.