Banza picks up new business with Ahold, Kroger

Banza chickpea pasta rolls out to 8,000+ stores: ‘We’re one of the most productive pastas in the set’

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Banza has four ingredients: Chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein, xanthan gum
Banza has four ingredients: Chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein, xanthan gum
Chickpea-fueled pasta brand Banza is now in 8,000+ locations after striking deals with Kroger and Ahold that have added 2,000+ stores to its footprint, but remains laser focused on velocity as part of its bid to be the “most productive pasta in the set” for its retail customers, says co-founder Brian Rudolph.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after Banza - founded by Brian and his brother Scott in 2014 – rolled into almost 2,000 Kroger stores (Kroger, King Soopers, Ralph’s, Quality Food Centers) and 650+ Ahold locations (Stop & Shop), Rudolph said: “The Kroger and Ahold deals have significantly boosted our footprint and we’re expanding into a larger, 30,000sq ft manufacturing facility in Riverside to meet growing demand."

But he added: "We’re the fastest-growing pasta in the set, but w​e’re not focused on total distribution points. What we care about most is year-over-year velocity growth, and that is trending in the right direction in a pretty strong way, making us one of the most productive pastas in the set.

“And that’s what retailers care about. ​[Prospective] retailers want to know how we perform relative to the pasta set in other retailers, our case studies, what’s worked, how we’ve built our momentum, how we’ll drive sales in the category overall.”

Merchandising

While Rudolph has been keen to get Banza into retailers’ main pasta sets in order to attract a broader audience, and reinforce the notion that Banza is not a niche natural product, both Kroger and Ahold are stocking the pasta in their natural sets, he said.

 “One of our goals is to position Banza in the traditional pasta set, but you have to look at these things on a case by case basis, and we felt that this was a great opportunity for us.

"We’re also going to be on display in Kroger in January, which is very exciting– having the product off the shelf in shippers has really worked well for us in the past, and we’re having conversations with Ahold about something similar, so that’s going to give us great visibility.”

Brian Rudolph Banza

When you start out, it’s tempting to say yes to everything,observes Banza co-founder Brian Rudolph (who admits ‘shiny object syndrome’ can also kick in once your brand gains traction and you start wondering where it could extend). But one of the reasons Banza is the fastest growing pasta brand in the country is because its founders have said ‘No’ as often as they have said ‘Yes,’ he says.

Read more HERE​ ​about Banza's recent $7.5m funding round led by Beechwood Capital and supported by Strand Equity Partners and RSE Ventures. 

Banza pasta shells
Launched in late 2014 by brothers Brian and Scott Rudolph, Banza - pasta made from 90% chickpeas coupled with tapioca, pea protein and xanthan gum - promises to rival the taste and texture of regular wheat pasta, but has twice the protein and four times the fiber.
chickpea pasta brands
While Banza had some first mover advantage with its chickpea-fueled pasta, several other brands have since moved into its territory, including Chickapea (which adds lentils), Pasta Lensi, Tolerant Foods (which includes rice in its formula), Explore Cuisine and pasta giant Barilla, which uses chickpeas in its Protein Plus range

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