The dairy milkshakes are now in 4,000+ locations from Walmart and Publix to schools and hospitals, while the company is also taking them to international markets including China, India and the Philippines, CEO Jeff Robbins told FoodNavigator-USA.
However, Sneakz ('Taking vegetables from yuck to yum!') has also been fielding an increasing number of requests for dairy-free options, said Robbins.
“We're going to develop a non-dairy version of our ready-to-drink products, but we started with the vegan powders as we were able to incorporate probiotics into them as well, which is also something our customers were asking for. We are offering something unique in the marketplace that filled a niche that's great for kids, especially kids involved in sporting activities, but also teens and adults.
“A lot of the sports drinks kids are consuming are not very healthy, but we’re offering vegetables, probiotics, and easily digestible plant-based protein that their parents can feel good about," said Robbins, who is developing a Sneakz kids club highlighting the stories, passion and achievements of children in a variety of athletic pursuits from jiujitsu and dancing to skateboarding.
Sales have more than tripled over the past two years
“We started to see people thinking of the milkshakes as a better alternative to sports drinks, and the powders just take this to the next level,” added Robbins, who said Sneakz had been growing at an explosive rate since he and former PepsiCo exec James Costa became major shareholders in 2015 and relocated the brand from Boulder to Florida.
“Sales have more than tripled in the past couple of years and we’re on course to double in 2018 as we reach beyond traditional supermarket chains to schools, clubs, museums, foodservice customers and international customers. We’re very close to getting organic certification in China for milk infused with vegetables, and the first shipments to a large retailer in India are scheduled to go out in the first quarter of this year.”
14g plant-based protein per serving instead of 20-30g
While protein powders have traditionally targeted adults, and typically offered 20-30 grams of protein per serving, the Sneakz powders (in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry flavors) contain 14g of pea protein per serving plus probiotics (Ganedan’s Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 strain). They also contain half a serving of vegetables, added Robbins, who said future powdered products would likely contain blends of plant-based proteins rather than pea alone.
The powders (ingredients list, vanilla: Organic veggie blend - pea protein, carrot, cauliflower, sweet potato, spinach - organic cane sugar, organic flavors, BC30 probiotic) contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and can be mixed with water, milk, soy or nut milk, or added to smoothies, shakes, pancakes or baked goods, he said.
“Retailers have been very enthusiastic about the product, and you can also get more of the packs on the shelf. We’re going to be offering a single serve pack, a 10-serving pack and a 25-serving pack, that they are putting in the health and beauty section or the sports nutrition section.”
The protein powders are also likely to perform well on ecommerce platforms as they are easy to ship, added Robbins, who said that the Sneakz brand was likely to go through a minor rebrand at the end of the year to give it a slightly more "sophisticated" look.
“It’s only been a week and Amazon is already re-ordering the powders, so they are doing well.”
The senior market
While the Sneakz brand clearly targets kids, it has also developed a following among seniors as an alternative to brands such as Ensure and Boost, said Robbins.
"We had a retired pediatric nurse that loved our product so much that she started taking it to her friends, to hospitals and even began to work with Medicaid, and so we're in the process of developing new dairy and non-dairy products specifically targeting that market that will launch later this year."