“The majority of snacks [consumed in the US] are made of potato or corn or wheat, and those ingredients are not the best for you,” said Aarti Kochhar Kaji, co-founder of Taali Foods and until last May an international student from Bombay at Harvard Business School.
She explained to FoodNavigator-USA that she and her business partner, who also is from Bombay and studied at Harvard, thought that there had to be an even-better-for-you option and so they brainstormed about the different snacks they ate growing up in India.
“One of them was popped water lily seeds … which are grown in a water lily plant, collected or harvested, dried and popped similar to popcorn,” but “they are much higher in protein and lower in fat and calories,” she said.
Specifically, one 28-gram serving of Taali Foods’ Water Lily Pops has 67% less fat, 20% fewer calories and more protein than the same serving of leading ready-to-eat popcorn, Kaji said.
In addition, it is “all natural in the way it is produced,” unlike better-for-you extruded snacks and puffs, which appeals to consumers who want minimally processed products, she said.
Bold, but familiar flavors make the pops approachable
And while the popped lily seeds cut the fat and calories, they still deliver on crunch – which is pivotal for many snackers. They also deliver on bold – yet familiar and therefore approachable – flavor.
“We wanted to have flavors that are all-natural and also familiar for people in the US,” so that even if consumers were not familiar with puffed water lily seeds, they would understand the flavors, Kaji said.
The lineup includes a Himalayan Pink Salt, for an “exotic version of a classic,” a White Cheddar made with all natural cheese and no maltodextrin, Sriracha Spice for “a little bit of a kick,” Tangy Turmeric, which blends in-demand turmeric with mango and lime for slightly sweet but still earthy flavor, and a Tikka Masala, which has all the ingredients of the authentic Indian staple, Kaji said.
The familiar flavors of the Lily Pops place the brand more in the competitive landscape of popcorn and puffs, rather than the burgeoning Indian snack segment, which includes naan and dip combinations and savory yogurts, she added.
Vibrant packaging helps catch consumers’ eye
In addition to approachable flavors, Taali hopes to attract adventurous Americans to try its Water Lily Pops with vibrant packaging and playful branding centered on a theme of high-fives, which is what Taali means.
“The whole vibe is supposed to be that it is fun, bright, very exciting and a celebration of finding a snack that is much healthier for you and tastes good, and because you can share it with friends you are giving each other high fives because you are so happy,” Kaji said, pointing out that the two letter ‘a’s in the company name are high-fiving each other.
The package also highlights the attributes today’s consumers want, including the nutritional aspects but also that the product is non-GMO verified, not extruded, has no trans fat, no artificial colors or artificial preservatives, no maltodextrin, no corn and is roasted, not fried.
Finally, the front of the package has photos of the puffs along with pictures of key ingredients to help consumers better understand what is inside.