PECKISH free range organic eggs - which are softer-boiled than the average boiled egg, delivering a creamier taste and texture - come paired with crunchy culinary inspired dips, and were a hit at Erewhon, where they have been trialed in refrigerated snacking sets over the past month, Sonoma Brands founder Jon Sebastiani told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We don’t have deep data yet, but the velocities we’ve seen so far have been outrageous, nearing a hundred units a week in some cases. They’re accretive, not cannibalistic, to the [refrigerated snacks] category, and consumers have been incredibly receptive, because people want protein from real foods, not bars and powders.
“We’re targeting the refrigerated grab & go set, but not all retailers have fresh snacking sets, so at times we’ll be in dairy set, in some cases in the deli.”
‘Protein without all the junk’
PECKISH snack packs (MSRP $3.99 for a pack with 2 eggs plus dips) will be rolling out to stores including Whole Foods 365, Equinox locations in the Northeast, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Good Earth and other natural specialty stores, Soul Cycle studios, and Napa Farms Market at San Francisco International Airport, and are also available for delivery to homes and offices via www.PerfectlyPeckish.com and third party platforms such as Amazon and www.goodeggs.com, he said.
“We’re also going to be rolling out to foodservice programs, corporate cafeterias, and gyms, where people are looking for protein without all the junk.
“We’ve had an incredible amount of inbound interest from major retailers, but this will be a measured rollout. We don’t need to be in 5,000 doors by the end of the year. We want to roll out with consistent solid velocity and we are listening to what consumers think about price, flavors, packaging, usage occasions.”
Based on initial feedback from the Erewhon trial, he said: “The one thing we may need to look at is whether we need to optimize the packaging with maybe a window or something like that as while the packaging is really beautiful, it’s maybe too beautiful, as some people were wondering what was inside the box.”
PECKISH serves as a high-protein snack, breakfast option or mini-meal, says Jon Sebastiani at Sonoma Brands, who has a track history of developing Millennial-friendly brands that make consumers think about existing categories or products in a different way (KRAVE Jerky, SMASHMALLOW marshmallows).
“The hardboiled egg is a commodity you can find at any salad bar or deli counter. But until PECKISH came along, no one premiumized it,” claimed Sebastiani, who likes to develop and invest in brands that have their own character and distinctive appeal but can scale quickly and reach mainstream consumers as well as the natural and organic set.
“We use organic free range eggs; we use a manufacturing technique with our partner to create a yolk with a creamier texture instead of that chalky yolk; we have dips with flavor and variety, and we have beautiful packaging.”
The Sonoma Brands portfolio
Launched in early 2016 by Sebastiani (who founded KRAVE Jerky) and based in Sonoma, California, Sonoma Brands has thus far invested in brands including Dang Foods, Yumble, Hu chocolate, Guayaki, True Botanicals, and Vintage Wine Estates; and developed three ‘incubated’ concepts of its own: SMASHMALLOW , ZÜPA NOMA, and PECKISH.
ZÜPA NOMA: Later this year we’ll be launching a broader vegetable snacking platform
ZÜPA NOMA chilled drinkable soup has attracted some loyal fans and is picking up traction as a direct to consumer business said Sebastiani. “About a year ago we went fully digital because we felt the brand wasn’t ready for national broad [bricks & mortar] distribution. The subscription business and the single bundle business has grown significantly.
“We grew over 100% last year and we’re anticipating growing over 200% this year, largely digitally. We’ve launched an additional four SKUs with collagen infused options, plus a veggie shot line with adaptogens, and later this year we’ll be launching a broader vegetable snacking platform.”
SMASHMALLOW: On course to generate $40-45m in retail sales this year
The SMASHMALLOW snacking marshmallow brand – which launched in August 2016 and was a hit straight out of the blocks – is on course to generate $40-45m in retail sales this year, predicted Sebastiani.
“We’re in over 15,000 doors and probably expecting to double again this year. I’ve never been in a company that so directly can participate in every season of the year, and I don’t just mean winter, summer and so on, but every Hallmark holiday, from Halloween and Christmas to Easter and Valentine’s to Summer ‘Smores.”
Yumble kids’ meal delivery: The consumers are incredibly loyal and sticky
As for kids’ prepared meal delivery brand Yumble, in which Sonoma Brands invested last year, it's early days, but the brand has significant potential, he claimed.
While some of the luster has worn off the subscription-based meal kit market, Yumble's proposition is inherently more compelling to investors (and busy consumers), he argued.
“Where a lot of these meal kits have gone wrong is that they solve part of the problem, but not all of it, you still have to make the food. Yumble provides a menu of prepared meal options for kids aged 2-12 that you can just heat up.
“The team that is running this business has a huge amount of experience and when you look at the data, based on our opinion of other [comparable] businesses, the customer acquisition cost is incredibly low and the average order volume is incredibly high. The consumers are incredibly loyal and sticky.
“2019 is a huge year for us, we’ll be announcing a second facility [kitchen hub] on Q1, and Bethany Frankel will be joining the company as a partner.”