IWON Organics, which features organic plant-based protein in all of its products, is planting a flag in the ground as an organic plant-based foods brand powered by a variety of legume ingredients, an attribute it wasn't able to fully communicate before, according to Samuel.
"Our core business is still in salty snacks, it's what people know us for," Samuel told FoodNavigator-USA, but with its entry into new categories the company can further stretch its brand awareness.
"This is a health and wellness brand platform built on the back of legumes -- I knew we were from day one, but I wasn't able to talk about it as strongly as I am now, with the platform now going into three channels," he explained.
The protein sources vary depending on the product, and the company uses a variety of plant-based ingredients across its entire portfolio including navy beans, brown rice flour and protein, pea protein, rice protein, and fava beans.
'The cereal and the granola actually speak to our core consumer even more'
"The cereal and the granola actually speak to our core consumer even more," noted Samuel, who added that women make up 75% of its current consumer audience.
Earlier this year, IWON Organics entered the cereal category with its line of 'protein crunchies' containing 5g protein, 3g fiber, and 4g total sugar per serving. The products were first launched into Vitamin Shoppe followed by launches at several Southern California regional chains.
"We want to be an option for consumers when they get to the cereal aisle, and we believe we can build out a story in the cereal aisle," said Samuel, who acknowledged that there are many brands that have entered the cereal category with better-for-you options.
More recently, the company launched its protein granola clusters, which Samuel believes offer a different eating experience for consumers.
"I know that our customers are shopping in that aisle. I do believe there was something missing there as far as innovation and as far as a product that has true clusters with a little bit higher protein and a little less sugar - we were able to hit 3g of sugar per serving and most products are around 7g or 8g," said Samuel.
'A key part of this is balanced nutrition'
A fitness and wellness enthusiast himself, Samuel explained that the goal for IWON Organics is to give consumers an option when they can't eat whole foods.
"A key part of this is balanced nutrition," said Samuel, who added that he would never discourage someone from choosing whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts or grains over packaged products.
"We're building a platform of options in different categories of foods that are better for you for when you can't get to whole foods," he said.
IWON Organics has saturated the Southern California retail market with presence in local chains including Erewhon, Jimbo's and several independent stores, but Samuel explained that the brand is continually expanding into new store banners that have a larger distribution footprint including Sprouts, Wegmans, and Whole Foods Canada with its cereal and granola lines.
Samuel added that the brand already has its foot in the door with its salty snacks line of protein sticks and puffs at several national retailers including Kroger, Safeway, and select regions of Whole Foods.
IWON Organics is also entering the conventional retail channel in Canada with an activation at national chain Loblaws this month.
Its growing distribution footprint paired with strong velocities have contributed to another triple-digit growth year, said Samuel.
"We've had another 100% growth year, and we predict that we'll have another 100% growth year next year, and potentially it could be as much as 150%. We have a really strong plan for 2022 to build out the brand."