Iwon Organics started out in the sports nutrition segment with single-serve pea-protein-packed chips and is now available nationwide in GNC and Vitamin Shoppe.
However, it has since branched out into Puffs, Stix and ‘Protein Os’ (which can serve as morning cereal, a yogurt topper or a standalone snack),and utilizes a broader blend of proteins from green peas, navy beans, and brown rice.
“We grew 300% from 2017 to 2018 and we’ll do another 300% 2018 to 2019, that’s already in the books,” said founder and CEO Mark Samuel, who is about to enter the southern Pacific region of Whole Foods with the new 5oz bags after winning the retailer’s local supplier pitch slam for the region in July.
“We’re also a top selling new salty snack at all Erewhon locations, since launching there a few weeks ago,” added Samuel, who has also secured shelf space at Vitamin Shoppe for four additional SKUs in the October reset and says he’s in talks “with a couple of the majors."
E-commerce sales are growing by 30% month over month, primarily through Amazon “without spending a ton on digital marketing and ads,”added Samuel, who closed a seed round earlier this year and has just secured a line of credit to help support the brand’s rapid growth.
A balanced nutritional profile and bold and intense flavors
While some competing products in the sports nutrition segment might deliver a heftier dose of protein, many of their ingredients lists – featuring protein isolates, palm oil, sugar alcohols, and high intensity sweeteners – are not hugely consumer friendly, while the texture and eating experience is frequently “not great,” he claimed.
Iwon Organics snacks have 5g fiber and 10-12g protein/serving, which firmly positions the brand in the ‘protein snacks’ category, but deliberately isn’t attempting to match the 20g+ protein levels in, say, Quest chips and bars or PowerBars, said Samuel.
“We’ve gone for a really balanced nutritional profile and chosen really bold and intense flavors. The chips put us on the map, but we see the most potential in the puffs and the stix. We get people that tells us they taste better than Cheetos.”
‘5oz bags put us in play in natural and conventional grocery’
He added: “We started in the nutritional supplement category at GNC and Vitamin Shoppe, where there is no education needed when it comes to protein, and health & fitness enthusiasts understood what we were doing, but now we’re making our next move.
“We just launched 5oz bags that put us in play in natural and conventional grocery, so we can now fit in the salty snacks section, which is where we can deliver on multiple call-out: protein, fiber, organic certified, non GMO verified.
“At the pitch slam they asked who is your consumer, and I said, everybody. I know it sounds vague, but honestly we’ve got millennials, professionals, kids, health & fitness enthusiasts… I’m all about balance in nutritional profiles and in eating generally, whether it’s in meals or snacks.”