Some brands have struggled to develop successful fruit/veg pouch brands targeting adults, with higher-end brand Nomva (HPP fruit pouches with probiotics) calling it quits at the end of 2017 and some babyfood brands struggling to extend into adult snacking (Plum Organics withdrew its Plum Vida fruit snacks after disappointing sales).
(Other brands targeting adults with pouches such as Mamma Chia (Chia Squeeze Vitality), Munk Pack (oatmeal and fruit pouches) and Fruigees (juice concentrate-based pouches) offer shelf-stable products.)
However, gutzy - which does not utilize HPP and comes with a longer shelf-life and a more accessible price tag than Nomva at $1.99 - has secured listings in 3,000+ stores in the US including Publix, Wegmans, Safeway, Stop&Shop, and The Fresh Market, and has built a loyal consumer base among Millennial women, particularly moms... and their kids, founder David Istier told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We went about rebranding in July 2017 to emphasize three drivers, that we’re organic, plant-based, and gut healthy, and since then, the business has transformed rapidly.
“Pouches for adults don’t work everywhere, but the format is gaining traction in sports nutrition, and millennials and Gen Z are comfortable with it as many of them grew up on pouches. Right now we are on our own in many retailers. You have brands such as nootra (marketed as an ‘organic cold pressed probiotic smoothie), which is basically a copy of Nomva, and then the other hand you have kids’ brands such as Once Upon a Farm, but there’s not much inbetween.
'The fact that the whole fresh snacking category is growing is definitely making things easier'
He added: “I think it’s actually easier to start with an adult brand and move into the kids market like KIND and Clif have done, than the other way around. We’re doing extremely well and our brand is up 150% year on year, although it’s taken a while to get our foot in the door, but the fact that the whole fresh snacking category is growing is definitely making things easier.
“Many retailers now have grab and go fresh snacks and we find that shoppers that buy gutzy are also buying products such as Perfect Bar, kombucha, organic salads, and dairy alternatives. We’re also seeing validation from the sports world as athletes often eat a lot of protein, but don’t get enough fiber.
“Nomva was a great product, but it was expensive, especially for the younger demographic they were targeting.”
What is the dietary fiber status of gum acacia in the US?
Gum acacia was not on the FDA’s list of ingredients classified as dietary fibers released this summer; however, key suppliers have recently met with the agency and agreed to conduct additional studies to support its health benefits ahead of submitting a citizen petition to support its dietary fiber status, likely in April 2019.
Read more HERE.
As for prebiotics (each gutzy pouch contains 6g acacia fiber), added Istier, who headed up sales and marketing for kids’ fruit snack brand GoGo SqueeZ in North America earlier in his career.
“They are still fairly niche ingredients, but we decided to focus on them [as opposed to probiotics] because we think it’s a more efficient way to achieve results, plus there is more science behind prebiotic fibers than probiotics.”
Although US consumers are still getting their heads around the term ‘prebiotic,’ many shoppers know it’s associated with gut health, and putting the word ‘fiber’ after it on the front of pack (gutzy call-outs include ‘6g prebiotic fiber’) makes it more accessible to those confused or intimidated by the word used in isolation, said Istier.
As for sugar, while EnergyFruits snacks contain 10-15g of sugar per 3.9oz serving, the sugar is coming from the fruit – and is not added – and is coupled with fiber from the fruits and veggies in the product as well as the added acacia fiber, he added.
The only drawback of the pouch format is that it is not currently recyclable, said Istier, although gutzy – like GoGo Squeez – has signed up with a program called TerraCycle which enables users to mail empties off for 'upcycling'.
What are prebiotics?
According to prebiotic guru Professor Glenn Gibson* from the University of Reading, UK, a prebiotic is a “selectively fermented ingredient that results in specific changes in the composition and/or activity of the gastrointestinal microbiota, thus conferring benefit(s) upon host health.”
In simpler terms, prebiotics are gut-friendly plant-based fibers which resist digestion in the small intestine and arrive in the large intestine where they are fermented and stimulate the growth of ‘good bacteria’ by giving them something to eat. (This is in contrast to probiotics, which are live microorganisms.)
*Gibson, G. R. et al. Dietary prebiotics: current status and new definition. Food Science and Technology Bulletin: Functional Foods 7, 1–19 (2010).