Nestlé taps confections expertise to enter snack space with Rallies Nut Butter Bombs

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Nestle
Source: Nestle

Related tags: Nestlé, Chocolate

More than four years after Nestlé sold its US confectionery business to Ferrero, the CPG giant is dipping a toe back into the bite-sized sweets segment but through a better-for-you “snacking” lens with the national rollout of Rallies Nut Butter Bombs.

The trio of chocolate-coated treats filled with peanut butter and raspberry, dark chocolate and almond butter or cashew butter may recall the decadent sweets of Nestle’s former 100Grand and BabyRuth bars sold to Ferrero in 2018, but these are positioned as a “better for you snacking product,”​ Nestlé New Business Ventures senior manager of innovation and strategy Jamie Harbeck told FoodNavigator-USA.

She explained that even though the combination of chocolate and nut butter makes the treats indulgent, they also are “something you can feel a little less guilty about eating … because [they have] cleaner ingredients – so premium chocolate, real nut butter, real fruit, no artificial preservatives and actually 40% less sugar than the leading nut butter chocolate candy.”

Positioned as an afternoon or on-the-go pick-me-up, Harbeck added, “Rallies can help fill the void for when you want something sweet, but you don’t want to feel guilty.”

‘9 out of 10 people snack and one of those … each day is some type of indulgence’

The launch also fills a void in Nestlé’s portfolio for snacks – the demand for which has escalated since the company sold its confections business, the closest it came to offering snacks excluding some of its smaller frozen offerings, like Hot Pockets, which could qualify as “snacks” for some under the broadening definition of the term.

“Our data tells us that nine out of 10 people snack and one of those snacks each day is usually some type of indulgence. We all want a little something sweet at some point in the day,”​ Harbeck said, noting Rallies are a perfect way to check that box.

“We can all relate to that post lunch slump period where you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m a little tired. I’ve been working all day. I need a little break.’ Or, if you’re staying at home with kids and naptime cannot come fast enough. Rallies are really meant for those moments and those … millennials in the height of their lives who have a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, who just need a break,”​ Harbeck said.

With three bombs per serving coming in at 210 to 230 calories, including 4 or 5 grams of protein, Harbeck said the treat promises to deliver a “satisfying” experience whether selected as a mindful break or as sustenance to replace a small meal or tide someone over until the next chance to eat.

“A lot of what we see in snacking is just around the increasing prevalence and the fact that people are eating fewer and fewer square meals,”​ Harbeck said, noting company research that found 65% of people eat snacks in place of a meal. She attributed this shift in large part to people staying and eating at home more during the pandemic than they did before the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020.

“We think this is an incremental opportunity to reach a consumer with an unmet need that we’re not delivering against today,”​ Harbeck added.

Rallies rest in refrigerated section, requiring ‘bespoke conversations’ with retailers

As a refrigerated snack, Rallies also takes Nestlé into a new part of the store – the fresh prepared and chilled perimeter, which appeal to consumers seeking both convenience as their lives become more active post-pandemic, and healthier options with fewer preservatives and shorter ingredient decks.

“We don’t use preservatives to keep the product fresh in a shelf stable environment, so we’re actually using refrigeration to keep the product fresh,”​ which ticks the box for consumers looking for better-for-you and cleaner ingredients and creates a new opportunity for Nestlé, Harbeck said.

But the decision to play in the limited refrigerated section does place the product in a more competitive segment and creates some logistical challenges, acknowledged Harbeck.

“Any time we are tracking a new trend coming out in a store, it does start with that very dynamic ever-changing set. So, the refrigerated snacking set is quite different retailer to retailer and that is a nuance we are navigating”​ with “more bespoke conversations with each individual retailer,”​ she said.

But, she added, the segment also hosts a wide variety of products with different value propositions and Harbeck said Rallies solve an unmet need, which makes them a good bet for Nestlé and retailers alike.

Already Harris Teeter, Giant Eagle and QuickChek stores are on board for in-store distribution in the coming months, Harbeck said. She also noted consumers currently can by cases of the treats online through Amazon or at NestleRallies.com.

DTC allows for a closer consumer connection

The products launched direct-to-consumer several months ago – a strategy that allowed the company to test its recipes and marketing strategies as well as build up an initial consumer base.

“DTC is a great way to talk directly to our consumers and also learn very rapidly what they respond to and what they don’t,”​ Harbeck said.

For example, “focusing on the product itself versus the mindset that we’re helping them overcome – kind of a quick pick-me-up during the day when they need that little bit of indulgence,”​ she explained.

She added the company is eager to apply those learnings to expanded distribution in brick-and-mortar stores in coming months.

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