Evolve Brands is the result of two organic snack brands, Supernola and Gorilly Goods, joining forces. Supernola, which makes chewy granola clusters in individual snack packs, was founded by Poiesz who created the on-the-go, premium snacks as a solution to aiding her own health issues which stemmed from her diet.
After experimenting in the kitchen for two years, Poiesz created chewy, soft granola bites that incorporated exotic superfood ingredients such as goji berries, chia seeds, red maca, and maqui berry powder (ingredients found in its triple berry vanilla SKU).
"The biggest thing for me when creating Supernola was to make it grain-free and dairy-free, because those were two of my biggest trigger points," Poiez told FoodNavigator-USA.
Supernola and Gorilly Goods check off plenty of other health boxes, according to Poiesz, including certified organic, non-GMO, certified paleo, as well as being gluten and soy free.
Poiesz believe she was on to something with Supernola and quit her job in investment banking to pursue building the company full time. Although, Poiesz realized she needed the food industry expertise to take her company to the next level.
"I started looking for a partner in the industry and after a little while met Frank Jimenez, he spent about 20 years at the Hershey Company in shopper innovation, category management, and things like that. He really brought that expertise in the industry that I was looking for," she said.
"We really came together with this shared vision in mindful snacking and we spoke the same language in terms of food as medicine."
One of the first tasks Poiesz needed Jiminez to help with was locating a gluten- and peanut-free co-manufacturing facility.
"I warned him that it’s going to be very difficult to find this," Poiecz recounted. However, within a few weeks Jiminez came across an organic, peanut- and dairy-free trail mix brand called Gorilly Goods which operated its own production facility. The timing was right to partner with Gorilly Goods as its main investor, Nature's Path, had recently pulled out as a controlling investor, a deal that took place in 2016.
That's when Jiminez and Poiesz made the decision to acquire all the assets of Gorilly Goods, along with its distribution network across the US and Canada, forming the the privately-held company Evolve Brands.
How Evolve Brands defines "mindful snacking"
According to Poiesz, Evolve Brands is about more than providing healthy snacking options to consumers. The company incorporates mindful business practices in a number of ways including:
- Manufacturing: "We control all our own manufacturing and we do it mindfully by recycling, composting, and upcylcing. And transparency in the ingredients by using all certified organic whole food ingredients that are clean and energizing. In our facility, we only use dehydration to maintain nutrients."
- Philanthropy: Supernola donates 2 cents from every box sold to Girls on the Run and Gorilly Goods donates 2 cents from every box sold to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, to help save mountain gorillas and their habitats.
'You're either a chewy [snack] person or a crunchy person'
According to Poiesz, while Evolve Brands revolves around mindful clean eating, she and Jiminez wanted to be sure that they were satisfying consumers' basic snack cravings.
"I feel like there are two types of people: you’re either a chewy [snack] person or a crunchy person," Poiesz said. "We have two main different products, the clusters, which for Supernola are chewy clusters, and for Gorilly Goods they're crunchy clusters."
In the early days of making Supernola, Poiesz wanted to create exotic, yet familiar, flavor profiles for her snacks.
"I started getting really obsessed with different superfoods. A lot of healing foods from other cultures, a lot of South American foods, things that weren’t typically found in the American diet," she said.
The flavors are all exotic in their approach but classic in the actual flavor, she claimed.
For example, Supernola's, signature spiced goji berry flavor has familiar holiday spices including Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, while its triple berry vanilla option is like a berries and cream flavor, according to Poiesz.
Gorilly Goods and Supernola are available in around 2,400 natural and specialty stores, but ultimately, Evolve Brands' products are targeting the mainstream consumer through the conventional grocery channel.
"We want to get mainstream adoption because we really believe that’s where the market is going," noted Poiesz, who has sees both brands' granola bites selling well on shelf next to snack bars.
"Something we talk about all the time with our retail partners is the concept of ‘bar exhaustion,’ especially when you get to mainstream grocery. Our snack packs of these clusters provide a different eating experience and clean eating occasion.
"Right now we’re waiting for that one anchor account," said Poiesz. Securing an anchor account with a major conventional grocery chain such as Ahold, Sprouts, Meijer, or Kroger will help establish Supernola and Gorilly Goods in its targeted regions of the Midwest, West Coast, and Mid Atlantic.
"The goal is to have a whole group of brands with products that play in the same category,leading with mindfulness. For right now, we want to establish those strong retailer relationships first."