Dream Pops to enter candy aisle: 'There's no reason there shouldn't be a plant-based confectionery brand'
The launch, which is slated for March 2022, will feature the brand's plant-based take on classics such as KitKat and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the candy aisle using coconut-based ingredients.
According to a recent report from the National Confectioners Association (NCA), more than 80% of consumers report eating chocolate from at least two of three main chocolate segments: mainstream (Hershey and Mars), premium (brands such as Ghirardelli and Lindt), and fine chocolate.
With its plant-based take on familiar formats, Dream Pops is aiming to play somewhere between mainstream and premium chocolate segments.
"The vision has evolved from being a disruptive ice cream and frozen confectionery player to now, we’d really like to be the Willy Wonka of all desserts to compete with Hershey, Mars, and Ferrero, with plant-based treats. Being non-frozen also opens up direct-to-consumer and Amazon," Greenfeld told FoodNavigator-USA.
"We’re targeting American cult classics that consumers have already fallen in love with and creating plant-based versions of them with less than 8-10 ingredients and no gums or stabilizers."
While not ready to release any specific details on what the confectionery products would actually be, Greenfeld shared that they will be "snackable, confectionery" items made with coconut milk and coconut sugar instead of alternative sweeteners or sugar alcohols.
"I’m bullish on coconut sugar more so than sugar alcohols or alternative sweeteners. It's less about 'zero sugar', but more about 'good' sugar -- lower glycemic index and clean ingredients," said Greenfeld.
"There’s no reason there shouldn’t be a plant-based confectionery player, and that’s what we hope to be."
Frozen desserts: 'Snackable and on-the-go are some of the fastest growing segments'
Dream Pops frozen desserts and novelties business is still accelerating at a rapid pace, registering 300% top-line sales growth between 2020 and 2021.
From a broader market perspective, sales of frozen desserts are up +17.4% compared to 2019, according to IRI sales data for the 52 weeks ending 9/5/2021. Within the category, frozen novelties (pops, bites, sandwiches) are leading the growth with sales up 26.2% compared to 2019 compared to the sub-category of ice cream/sherbet which increased sales by 9.3% over a two-year basis.
"Snackable and on-the-go are some of the fastest growing segments in frozen desserts. There are a lot of pints, it’s super crowded. With a pint you’re committing to the entire pint of ice cream, it's not as shareable," Greenfeld noted.
According to Greenfeld, Dream Pops' 'geodesic' shape (made with liquid nitrogen and a proprietary mold) sets the brand apart from a sea of sameness in the frozen desserts aisle.
"Copackers couldn’t do it, so we had to find a new way to manufacture ice cream because all the technology for popsicles has been the same for the past half a century. There are very few food and beverage products that you know what they are out without their packaging," Greenfeld added.
The brand extended the same branding strategy to its packaging by using a zip-top pouch instead of a corrugated box. Retailers have responded positively to the brand, which is now distributed in over 3,500 doors in the US and over 1,000 doors in Canada. The brand recently gained Whole Foods Market Global authorization, expanding its retail presence in North America.
"Frozen retail real estate is really hard to break into, and the sales cycles are often 12 months when you have to convince a retailer to bet on you," noted Greenfeld.
Last year, the company launched its Bites line -- "a Nestle Dibs 2.0," said Greenfeld -- of chocolate covered frozen dessert poppable bites.
"Bites have become our hero product and have proven we’re more than just a popsicle brand. They provided a sneak peek into where we’re headed with the business and with the brand," he said.
Building brand awareness and unlocking consumer demand
A key to Dream Pops' success, according to Greenfeld, has been its digital-first approach to building organic brand awareness. The company was one of first food brands to gain a following on the social media platform TikTok three years ago and has had a number of viral moments which have boosted the brand to new audiences.
"Being an organic content creator has allowed for a lot of organic reach and long-term opportunities. We’re very bullish on the opportunities to connect the metaverse with brands. That compounds into organic brand awareness that I don’t think a lot of other brands are doing," noted Greenfeld.