In this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Investing in the Future of Food, Matt Weiss, who launched Rind Snacks earlier this year, outlines the significant potential he sees for disrupting the sleepy dried fruit snack category and the steps he is taking to capitalize on that potential while also minimizing the risks that come with being a change leader. He also outlines how participating in events like Rabobank’s FoodBytes! pitch slam in New York City this fall can help entrepreneurs, like himself, forge relationships that could tip the odds of success in their favor.
“Rind makes sustainable snacks focused on the power of the peel. So, our snacks maximize nutrition and minimize waste by preserving as much of the peels of our California grown non-GMO certified dried fruit, and in the process we minimize waste because edible peels represent a significant portion of annual food waste,” he said.
In addition, he said, his fruit is free from the sulfur dioxide, added sugar and preservatives that dominate many of the competing products in the space. He also avoids “filler fruit,” such as apple, in order to meet consumers’ shifting preferences for exotic fruits with more bittersweet and tangy flavors.
He says he hopes his update to dried fruit will help disrupt the $2 billion US category, which currently is dominated by commodity fruit, bulk bins and private label.
With growth comes the need for a new strategy
While the company has yet to hit its first birthday, Weiss says Rind Snacks’ approach to these macro-trends has been a wild success. But with that has come some supply challenges – prompting him to change his approach for next year.
“We are seeing triple digit month over month growth, direct to consumer sales, we are in about 100 specialty doors around New York City, our home market, and we are very excited to have just launched nationally with Whole Foods 365,” he said.
While the expansion is good news for the brand, Weiss says he is racing to meet demand and the biggest lesson he has learned so far is the necessity to lock up a supply chain – especially with a product that has a natural, limited growing cycle.
“We are working on now moving from more of an ad-hoc open buy program, to more projection scheduling. So, we know the retailers we will be launching with in 2019 and we see the velocity at direct to consumer and we are able to forecast a little more effectively what our fruit needs are for the year. And we will be buying in much, much more significant quantities,” he said.
Beyond expanding the supply and distribution for Rind Snacks, Weiss also wants to expand the company’s network, which is one of the reasons he says he participated in Rabobank’s FoodBytes! pitch slam earlier this fall.
“Relationships are everything. And the opportunity to network with a room full of 300 investors and service providers as well as fellow founders is invaluable to this process as we grow and look to partner with the right groups and find the right balance and partnerships,” he said. “Events like this are really great stepping stones toward building a much bigger platform and brand by working with great people in here.”