'Popcorn has become very commoditized'

Protes cofounder talks protein popcorn: ‘I was tired of bars and shakes and I wanted something different’

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Does the world need protein popcorn? Why not, says Protes co-founder Krik Angacion, who says his latest innovation is less about giving Americans more protein, than giving them a wider range of options in the protein snacking set (what the world probably doesn’t need is another protein bar, he observes).

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Natural Products Expo West show, Angacion said: “Everyone likes a snack and for me, the reason I started this company in the first place is that I was looking for protein, but I was tired of bars and shakes and I wanted something different.”

And the popcorn category, he claims, is ripe for innovation: “The way I see it, popcorn has become very commoditized. You look at the three things that differentiate popcorn… pricing, branding, and flavoring, which in my eyes isn’t really much innovation. We’re bringing functionality ​[in the form of 10g protein from whey] to a space that is very fast growing, with very high velocities, but very low innovation.”

 And retailers, he claims, are as excited as he is: “We started with the low hanging fruit for us, and that’s sports nutrition ​[Protes has already developed a successful pea-protein-based line of chips performing well in this channel].

“We presented it to Europa, we presented it to our partner in Canada, we presented to Walmart Canada and to GNC and all of them are taking it from day one and they are very excited about it. And from there, we’ve already started having really great conversations with mass market retailers.”

'Are we a vegan protein company or are we a protein snack company?'

The new Protes protein popcorn (available in white cheddar and sweet cinnamon flavors) will arrive in 5,000+ stores this spring including GNC and Giant Eagle, added Angacion, co-founder at brand owner Proformance Foods, which has notched up explosive growth this year with its pea-protein-fueled chips (now in 10,000+ stores from Vitamin Shop to HyVee and CVS).

The initial plan had been to develop a vegan product, said Angacion, but ultimately, he and co-founder Ryan Wiltse opted for whey protein isolate because it delivered on taste and texture.

“Eventually I sat down with Ryan and said are we a vegan protein company or are we a protein snack company? And we made the determination that we are a protein snack company, and once we started working with whey protein isolate, we came up with something that tasted phenomenal.

"It has a very familiar taste, texture and mouthfeel but delivers all that protein as well.”

Read more about Protes HERE​.

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