Inspiration for The Good Crisp Company came from founder and CEO, Matt Parry, who was following a strict Low-FODMAP diet to pinpoint what his food sensitivities were. As the father of three young girls as well, he realized that the market need for better-for-you packaged snacks that were gluten-free (made from yellow cornmeal), non-GMO, and free from the top eight allergens, as well as artificial flavors, was continuing to grow.
"I first really wanted to develop a canister chip that they would be happy to eat, and I would feel guilt free giving them," he said.
The Good Crisp Company launched in the US with its canister chips five years ago (seven years ago in its first market of Australia) – a 'better-for-you Pringles' essentially, said Parry – which is now sold in over 11,000 stores nationwide.
Parry, who had grown used to an elimination diet, turned his thinking around during the development process of the brand's second product, cheese balls.
"COVID re-directed my thoughts and got me to think about, what are some of the things that we can put back into this product instead of just taking stuff out?," he said.
A recommendation from the brand's seasoning supplier turned Parry onto Wellmune, a yeast beta glucan manufactured by ingredient supplier Kerry that helps to support overall immune health with very minimal impact to the taste, flavor, and texture of the product.
"It [Wellmune] attaches on to neutrophils (a type of white blood cell which plays a key role in the body's immune defense) and supercharges them essentially, and helps them do their job... It’s helping your immune system be better at what it does," said Parry.
The ingredient has been studied in clinical trials among older adults, athletes and weekend warriors, adults experiencing stress, and children, according to Kerry.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, found that in children 1-4 years of age, two-thirds of children taking Wellmune had fewer upper respiratory tract infections and six fewer sick days than the placebo treatment group.
'We know that immunity is a constant pain point for families'
On the face of it, it may seem like the company is simply hopping on the immunity bandwagon trend sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Parry said that immunity and foods that promote the immune system have always been a relevant category for families with young kids.
"We know that immunity is a constant pain point for families," said Parry, who talked about how quickly a cold from a child's classmate can sweep through the rest of the household in a manner of days.
"That’s also why we went with an immunity type product vs. a high protein or a keto product which aren’t really relevant to our consumer – the millennial mom," he added.
Foods that support the immune system have always been a relevant category for families with young kids
Parry also noted how the brand doesn't advertise the inclusion of Wellmune by brandishing its presence on the front of its packaging with mention of the ingredient.
"We’re very careful not to put ourselves up as a functional snack, and we don’t necessarily lead with it. The information is on the back of our canister where we talk about why we put it in there and what it does," said Parry.
This subtle approach, he said, has won it favor with its core audience.
"We hear from consumers who say, the fact that you even think about putting Wellmune shows that you care and understand the needs of our family," noted Parry.
Asked whether snacks with immune support would be a long-term trend beyond the tail end of the pandemic, Parry said, "For our customers it’s always been a big issue, but certainly it’s more heightened. We do think it will hang around as people try more of these products and see the benefit of them. I guess the question is, will it transfer over to snacks? We hope so, but we’ll see what happens."
The Good Crisp Company's cheese balls snacks are available in two varieties, cheddar and aged white cheddar, and are sold online and in the natural retail channel in Northern California for $4 per 2.75-ounce canister. Parry added that he aims to follow the same path to market for its cheese balls as the company did for its chips product line.
"We have a fairly good presence in grocery stores with our brand. Our cheese balls will follow that and be out next to our chips as time goes by," he said.