“We may have started with dried fruits, but by no means do we feel limited by that one category. The name of the brand and business is RIND, and … our focus is on that snacking sweet spot of function and sustainability. So, we believe RIND has the potential to be a breakout functional snack brand” across categories, founder and CEO Matt Weiss told FoodNavigator-USA.
He explained that since 2018 – but really beginning last March with company’s launch in two regions of Whole Foods, Wegmans and Fresh Market – RIND has “awoken” the dried fruit category “in a very exciting way with a focus on the peel,” which the company leaves on to reduce food waste and offer a more nutrient dense snack.
And while Weiss says the company’s core dried fruit line, which includes combinations like Straw-Peary’s blend of strawberries, Bosc pears and red apples, and Coco-Melon’s duo of crispy coconut and sweet watermelon, is “just scratching the surface” in terms of innovation and distribution, he is eager to enter the chips category.
“What gets us really excited toward the vision of RIND as a skin-on snacking platform is the size of the chips category today … which is $20bn and 10 times the size of the dried fruit category,” Weiss said.
He explained that while many consumers are drawn to the craveable crunch of the chip aisle, many don’t feel good about devouring an entire bag of classic potato or corn chips, which are heavy on salt and fat and light on nutrients and fiber.
RIND’s new trio of fruit chips, however, delivers both crunch and nutrition, Weiss said.
“These are super thin cut, crispy fruit chips, that unlike our dried fruit, which is packaged in pouches, will be in chip bags like you would expect for … tortilla or potato chips. Except instead of a bag of fried potato slices, which you feel bad about finishing, this is a product you can feel really good about crushing the whole bag because you are getting 300% of your daily value of vitamin C, you’re getting 16 grams of dietary fiber and there is all of 250 calories in the entire bag, which is 3 ounces,” he explained.
Of the three initial chip flavors, which include Kiwi, Orange and Apple, Weiss predicts that orange will be the breakout star in part because it is novel and versatile.
He explained while oranges are familiar and approachable, they most often are consumed as juice, which strips them of their fiber. By retaining the fiber in the chip, RIND delivers not only the “tanging, bright” orange flavor consumers know and love, but also the fiber that will keep their glycemic load low and provide sustained energy.
In addition to tapping into the increased demand for snacking, the fruit chips also fit nicely with the rise of craft cocktails, Weiss said. He explained that the chips can be used as a high-end garnish that doubles as a snack rather than an afterthought.
Finally, he said, he sees potential for the chips to tap into the growing popularity of charcuterie and graze boards, which are evolving beyond the classic meat and cheese to include vegan products, such as dried fruit and plant-based cheese and dips.
“We love dipping these. We think that’s going to be a big thing – encouraging people to get orange chips into hummus or guacamole. I know it sounds like a maybe a bit too far, but we are really excited for people to try it and see for themselves how well the interplay of bright, tangy fruit goes with savory spreads,” Weiss said.
The novelty and versatility of fruit chips also could work against RIND by making it unclear where best to stock them in stores. While Weiss ideally wants them positioned alongside bags of Ruffles, Lays and Fritos in the salty chip aisle, he acknowledges a logical “bridge” set would be the functional snacks segment alongside other better for you snacks, such as crunchy chickpeas, kale chips or gourmet root vegetable chips.
“A significant amount of capital’
RIND’s move into the chip aisle is made possible thanks to an infusion of $6.1m in Series A funding, led by Valor Siren Ventures with follow-on investment from Melitas Ventures.
Acknowledging this is “a significant amount of capital,” which will go towards product distribution, increased production and expanding key staff, Weiss said he is also excited to work with Valor, which he says “sees the world very similarly to us.”
He explained that Valor Siren is specifically dedicated to disruptive food and food tech brands and has an “untraditional approach versus a CPG VC firm.”
For example, he said, Valor – like RIND – is very bullish on alternative channel distribution within grocery and alternative routes to market for consumer discovery.
During the pandemic, RIND found alternative routes to market, such as subscription grocery boxes, an effective way to reach consumers where they are, Weiss said, noting this format “really unleashed a new wave of consumer discovery and way to curate, surprise and delight consumers while still meeting certain dietary restrictions.”
RIND also was attracted to Valor’s track record investing in other companies with a mission to reduce food waste and create a more sustainable food system, Weiss said.
“In the last year alone, we diverted about 120,000 pounds of edible peels that would otherwise have ended up in the landfill, and we found a partner in Valor that allows us to really think big and build this business” to have an even bigger positive environmental impact, Weiss said.
Ultimately, he said, partnering with Valor will allow RIND to follow its North Star of doing something different, which “for us begins with providing a benefit in terms of fiber and vitamin C, which uniquely comes from the nutrients present in the peel … and our continued efforts around food waste by keeping the skin on encouraging consumers to snack on whole fruit in a chip form.”