Beanfields CEO brings about brand revival: 'Our addressable market is anybody that wants a good tasting chip'

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Beanfields
Photo: Beanfields

Related tags: Snacks, chips

Despite being around since 2010, bean chip brand Beanfields is now experiencing the kind of growth (i.e. triple digit sales growth in January 2019) most food and beverage startups see in their first few years on the market.

The company recently closed a Series B capital financing round led by PowerPlant Ventures (a VC fund focused on growing plant-based CPG brands created by ZICO coconut water founder, Mark Rampolla) and other investors including NRV and Western Technology Investment, which will go towards supporting its 13 SKUs including five new chip flavors debuting at the Natural Products Expo West show next week.

When Arnulfo Ventura came on as CEO in July 2018, there was a lot of work to do to get the company back on track, he said. 

"It was really a turnaround situation,"​ Arnulfo told FoodNavigator-USA. "The founders had reached their total capacity and the brand was almost flat year over year."

Beanfields was founded by the Glidden family, who had been in the food brokerage world before starting the brand. In 2017, PowerPlant Ventures took a majority stake in Beanfields and has been working to restructure the company over the past two years. 

Arnulfo and the executive leadership team had to go through a company reorganization including a handful of layoffs as well as some promotions. 

"Within 30 days I had to understand if we had the right people on the bus, in the right seats," ​Ventura said. 

"Quickly it became all about getting us on the same page, increasing communication, removing barriers, and empowering our sales team to new positions they didn’t have before."

The company also moved out of the Glidden's family home and into a dedicated two-level office space in Culver City, California, where it runs its day-to-day business and fulfillment center. Beanfields also executed an entire rebranding so its packaging now features an enormous triangular ship that takes up most of the bag real-estate.

"During the rebranding we did focus groups and talked to consumers and what kept coming out over and over was the word ‘bold’,"​ Ventura said. 

"We took that bold insight and we ran with it and it resulted in vibrant new packaging. We’re the brand with the big ass chip on the bag."

As a result of all the turnaround initiatives, Beanfields has had 12 consecutive months of year-over-year growth including eight consecutive record-breaking sales weeks at the end of 2018. In January 2019, the brand registered triple digit year-over-year growth, the highest the company has ever seen, according to Beanfields CEO Arnulfo Ventura.

According to IRI data from the end of last year, Beanfields is the #8 brand in the better-for-you snacking category and the fastest-growing bean-based snack. 

EDITED_NEW_FLAVORS_Q1_2019_Beanfields_Photoshoot-11

Beanfields will be launching five new SKUs at the Natural Products Expo West ​show in Anaheim, California, next week including pink Himalayan sea salt, salt and vinegar, jalapeno lime, cheddar and sour cream, and spicy queso. 

A triangular chip, but not a tortilla chip

Ventura said the only way for a Beanfields to succeed in salty snacks aisle was that it had to be not only a better-for-you option (made with beans and brown rice with four grams of protein and fiber per serving) but over-deliver on taste.

Beanfields' entire line of bean-based chips including its best-selling flavors, nacho and jalapeno nacho, are vegan (using a seasoning blend of tapioca maltodextrin, salt, onion powder, yeast extract, paprika, natural flavors, 'extractives' of annatto). 

Ventura, who previously held leadership positions at fast-growing brands such as Califia Farms, and prior to that Naked and Izze at PepsiCo, said his background in beverage ended up being an advantage when taking over the snack company.

"It’s kind of blessing because I don’t have any preconceived notions of what should be on a chip,"​ he said. Ventura stressed that despite Beanfields' distinctive triangular shape, it does not see itself as a tortilla chip. 

"Ultimately, I think our addressable market is anybody that wants a good tasting chip with zero compromise on taste," ​added Ventura. "It’s got to be just as good, if not bette​r [than conventional chip competitors]." 

 

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