At last weekend’s Expo West, From The Ground Up showcased a new line of cheese crackers, crisps, and pretzel sticks.
Instead of wheat, it opted for the more vitamin- and fiber-rich cauliflower, which has lately made its way into many food products that traditionally never involved them, subbing in for wheat in pizza crust or replacing rice in chilled grab-and-go meals.
“As a parent who’s living in a millennial world, I wanted to be able to offer my kid something that looked and tasted like something I ate as a kid, but met today’s nutritional profile,” Jason Cohen, CEO and co-founder of parent company Halen Brands, told FoodNavigator-USA after the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, CA, last week.
The expo was like a ‘coming out party’ for the brand, according to Stephanie Latorre, SVP of Marketing for From The Ground Up.
The products aren’t on shelves yet, “but we’re looking to launch around June,” she said. “We’ve seen cauliflower applied in different formats, but we haven’t seen anyone else out there with a snack line.”
Trend watchers and market analysts have documented the ascent of cauliflower to the top of consumers’ consciousness in the past few years.
The latest data from Nielsen, shared during a webinar last December, revealed that, though the category of whole fresh cauliflower alone was growing pretty strongly at 1.5% year on year, growth in branded and value-added cauliflower grew nearly five times as fast.
Formulating a chip out of the vegetable
Though potato starch and rice flour were listed as the first two ingredients on the company’s marketing material and packaging brought to the show, COO Vincent James said that the product has since been reformulated.
“We were rushing for the show, and the bags were printed up significantly ahead of the show. We’ve reformulated the product to make cauliflower the lead ingredient,” he told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Cauliflower has a lot of benefits. There’s a lot of vitamin C, there’s fiber, there’s a lot of good things associated with cauliflower and we wanted to make sure that’s the number one ingredient on the ingredient panel.”
Cauliflower the #1 ingredient post reformulation
There’s almost no starch in cauliflower, so creating a solid cracker or pretzel stick can be difficult. “We have great co-manufacturers working with us on the product. It took us almost two years to put the concept together,” he added.
“There’s a lot of specialized equipment required…it was a challenge but we were up to it and we’re really excited with the outcome.”
People were blown away by the product
The crackers will come in one ounce bags and four ounce bags as well as boxes. The pretzel sticks will only come in a bag format. Because of the premium nature of the product’s ingredients, James said it will cost about 20% more than similar but more conventional versions of the product—think Cheez-Its or Rold Gold pretzels.
But it does come with a different nutritional profile, boasting more fiber and vitamins than its conventional counterparts. Cohen added that it was designed to taste like a mainstream snack and be appealing to a large number of people, whether cheese-lovers (because of its flavor) or vegans (because it is vegan).
The team believes the product has a potential to charm buyers, if the expo was any indicator. “We gave out all 25,000 bags from the ground up,” James said. “We could’ve given out more—people were blown away by the product.”