“We’ve built our brand online, we’ve had tremendous success online, but we’re really eager to move offline and start meeting customers in person,” Brian Hemmert, chief marketing officer at Fat Snax, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Starting today, the cookies will roll out nationwide in 740 Vitamin Shoppe stores.
The company officially launched in March last year, bootstrapped by its founder Jeffrey Frese who came up with the idea because of his frustrations with the lack of ketogenic diet-friendly sweets options on the market.
He had been on the high fat, low carb ketogenic diet since the latter half of 2016 in an effort to lose some weight and keep up with his two young children.
“Cookies were his biggest vice,” said Hemmert, who was introduced to Frese by mutual acquaintances in the Brooklyn food start-up scene and joined Fat Snax not long before Frese started the company.
“Jeff took to the kitchen and started messing around with a ton of different recipes. As the story goes, he basically continued with trial and error until his daughter said ‘these cookies are amazing,’ and he knew he had nailed the recipe,” Hemmert added.
Fat Snax cookies currently come in Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, and Lemony Lemon. Each flavor has 1-2 net carbohydrates (used by some food companies to describe total carbohydrates minus fiber) and no sugar, while containing 8-9 grams of fat. All three Fat Snax flavors will be sold in a 10-pack grab-and-go style shelf caddy, with new flavors being rolled out in the coming months.
Catering to the keto craze... with 'a whole bunch of butter'
The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to eat such a low amount of carbohydrates that the body ‘shifts gears’ and starts using fat as a source of energy.
To appeal to adherents of this diet, Frese had to eschew two main carbohydrate-heavy ingredients that go into traditional cookie making—wheat flour and sugar. For Fat Snax cookies, the company used low carbohydrate almond and coconut flours, and “a whole bunch of butter,” Hemmert said.
A combination of stevia, xylitol, and erythritol lend some sweetness to the cookies, which Hemmert described as soft in texture and lightly sweet.
Frese added: "The cookies are held together through a combo of xanthan gum and proteins in the eggs coupled with some proprietary ingredient mixing strategies to get everything to bind together."
Fat Snax joins a surge of product development targeting the keto space. Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights, a market research company, indexed more than 500 food and beverage product launches around the globe that target the ketogenic consumer, compared to 300 in 2016 and fewer than 100 in 2015.
Sports nutrition and supplements companies make up the largest share of keto product launches, but confectionery and bakery products with keto claims are increasing, making up 22% and 18% of all products launched in 2017 with keto claims respectively.
Looking at online searches on Google, searches for ‘keto’ eclipsed the similarly low-carb and grain-free Paleo Diet starting in March last year, and now enjoy more searches from curious consumers in the US than the term ‘Paleo’ has ever had.
Vitamin Shoppe’s Keto HQ platform
Fat Snax started exhibiting at trade shows this year, debuting at the Natural Products Expo East show in September.
It has had interest from the natural channel as well as mass grocery channel retailers, but decided to launch with supplements retailer Vitamin Shoppe because of its ‘store within a store’ Keto HQ platform, launched in August this year.
Keto HQ is a designated space in Vitamin Shoppe’s stores, both offline and online, dedicated to keto-friendly products.
“They’re an awesome partner,” Hemmert said about Vitamin Shoppe. “They have targeted customers coming in looking for products that are specific to a certain lifestyle, and keto specifically is huge.
“They don’t sell a lot of snacks, so it’s exciting for us to come in and meet those customer demands,” he added.
In an earnings call with investors and analysts earlier this month, Vitamin Shoppe’s new CEO Sharon M. Leite credited the introduction of new product categories as well as the Keto HQ platform as the shining stars in the otherwise flat quarterly results.