Crunch-a-mame organic puffs - which have 2g fiber, 6-7g protein per serving and half the fat of a traditional potato chip - are made from extruded non-GMO edamame beans (immature soy beans), rice flour, spinach and seasonings, says Chung, who spent almost a year working on a proprietary extrusion process that enabled the snacks to retain more protein than is typically possible.
“We wanted to create a snack without using protein isolates, with edamame as the first ingredient, and we have more protein than any other puffed snack. It’s actually quite tricky to make extruded snacks with protein because it tends to make the extrusion very hard, but we were able to make some tweaks and preserve the higher protein content.
“You have to have some starch in there for extrusion – from a technical perspective, the ideal puffed snack is pure starch, so mostly corn or mostly rice, which is not nearly as interesting from a nutritional perspective, when you want protein and fiber.”
Retail buyers have been very enthusiastic about the snacks ($2.99-3.49/3.5oz) because Crunch-a-mame is bringing something new to the salty snacks category with a better nutritional profile, but with a taste profile, texture and packaging design that is firmly aimed at the mass market, says Chung.
“We’ve just launched in around 150-200 stores including New Seasons, Mother’s Market and Lassens and we’re looking to be in around 2,000 stores by the end of the year. This is a mass market product. It appeals to the Whole Foods consumer but I didn’t want to create a great niche brand selling exclusively in natural foods stores.”
“Edamame is a totally different variety of soybean to those grown for animal feed and other soy products. We’ve also worked hard to develop varieties of edamame that grow well in the US. There’s also no such thing as a genetically modified edamame.
"As people are typically consuming them straight up in the vegetable form in salads and so on they have a higher sugar content and lower oil content - and sometimes a higher protein content - than a conventional soybean, which accounts for the appealing flavor profile. They are also much larger than a conventional soybean and they need to be cultivated a little differently.”
Raymond Chung, president and CEO, Greenwave Foods
We are going after Cheetos and Pirate’s Booty with a sense of humor, and with a way better value proposition
Chung, co-owner at Arkansas-based American Vegetable Soybean & Edamame, Inc, who has already built a sizeable edamame-based snacks business at Greenwave Foods via the eda-zen brand with freeze-dried and toasted edamame products coupled with ready-to-steam edamame beans, said the extruded snacks would help the protein-and-fiber-packed beans reach a wider audience, particularly families with children.
“Freeze drying is actually the best way to preserve the original nature of the food, the color, the nutrition and the flavor, without denaturing the protein, but for now at least in the US it’s a bit of a niche product and not everyone is looking for that, which is why we wanted to make a more mass market snack with edamame.
“We are going after Cheetos and Pirate’s Booty with a sense of humor, and with a way better value proposition. We have way more protein and fiber and none of the artificial colors and flavors of Cheetos and a better nutritional profile than Pirate’s Booty, but we also want to have fun.”
The packaging was designed by the same firm behind the GoGoSqueeZ pack design, which has a whimsical, playful vibe with fruit characters, said Chung, who says most natural organic salty snacks are “way too serious looking, so we thought we’d come up with edamame characters that would bring some fun back to the organic market.”
Visit Crunch-a-mame at Expo West North hall #N316