From air to rail: Kate’s Real Food finds opportunity to expand across travel channel

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Getty Images - 	VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm
Image Credit: Getty Images - VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm

Related tags Travel retail Snack bars Organic food

Organic snack-bar brand Kate’s Real Food is pushing into the travel channel with a deal to sell its product in Amtrak cars in the coming months, as it delivers on demand for high protein with a new product line.

Founded in 2010 by Kate Schade, Kate’s Real Food offers a range of plant-based snack bars made with whole food ingredients that are minimally processed, Jimmy Christensen, senior VP of sales at Kate's Real Food, told FoodNavigator-USA. Since its launch, the brand’s distribution has grown from 400 stores to more than 13,000 stores nationwide, he added. 

‘The best whitespace’ is in the travel channel 

In growing its retail distribution, Kate’s Real Food​ found that “the best whitespace” is in the travel channel, Christensen said. 

In 2022, Kate’s Real Food was one of several brands selected for Delta Air Lines' onboard menu refresh, which focused on better-for-you and more diverse food and beverage options for travel. This partnership paved the way for its partnership with Amtrak. 

“We are going to be on [Amtrak] trains, offering our 1.1oz, white-chocolate macadamia bar, which is what has been featured on Delta for some time now. [Amtrak] is just another one of those unique avenues. They actually reached out to us after finding us on Delta, so this is the web of exposure that you get from a partnership like that.” 

While brands like Whoa Dough​ and RIND have found success in the travel channel​, Christensen explained that many smaller brands have a hard time breaking into the channel, including both airlines and airport stores, because of the scale and fierce competition to secure shelf space — or cart space in the case of Delta. 

“[The travel and convenience channel] is always a little behind the ball, and a lot of that just has to do with scale and how quickly they have to move ... It has always been four or five years behind. Being an affluent consumer that really is looking for better-for-you, I do not really go into convenience stores because I know I'm not going to find what I need there,” Christensen said. 

Kate’s Real Food expands portfolio with focus on enhanced protein

Last month, Kate’s Real Food expanded its portfolio of snack bars with an organic protein bar line, available in Peanut Butter Cup, Peanut Butter Brownie and Snickerdoodle varieties. The new line is currently available on the brand's website, and Kate's Real Food plans to expand it into retailers like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, Wegmans, and other retailers in the future. 

Food Nav 1
Image Credit: Kate's Real Food

The protein bars contain 14 to 15 grams of plant-based protein — through a combination of pea protein powder and pea protein crisps — and are non-GMO, gluten-free, and sweetened with True Source Certified honey, which ensures the honey is not adulterated, Christensen noted. 

“We wanted to stick to the highest quality as we always have, but in my eyes, it is Kate bar 2.0. It is still only sweetened with honey, it is still real whole food ingredients, [and] it still has an exceptional taste and texture experience because we do not powder and extrude everything. You get the added benefit of getting a little more protein in your diet.” 

Kate’s Real Food balances quality, pricing to grow the organic market

Beyond expanding its portfolio and distribution, Kate’s Real Food is balancing the need for healthy and nutritious foods and creating an accessible product for consumers at a time when many shoppers are still watching their grocery budgets, he explained. 

“One of the biggest struggles, especially since the pandemic ... is the cost issue. A lot of people will say they care about additives, they care about organic. But when they go to the grocery store, they see ... an organic item is $7.99 and a non-organic is $4.99 or even cheaper. They are trying to feed their families, which is something that we really have to be cognizant of.” 

He added, “Our bars are a premium-priced item, and we acknowledge that, but we are not willing to jeopardize people's health and the quality of our ingredients to make it work. So, we are going to stick with organic.”

Kate’s Real Food is managing to keep its costs in line through a partnership with Organic Snack Company, which is the exclusive manufacturer of its product, Christensen said. 

"We do have our own vertically integrated production facility in western Pennsylvania, and that in itself has been an absolute game changer," he said. "It allowed us to maintain a lot of control. We also have eyes on the product literally from sourcing the ingredients to the product out the door ... That is more and more important because quality control is one of the hardest things to deal with as you scale," he added. 

Related news

Related products

show more

Learn more: Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins

Learn more: Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins

Content provided by Rethink Events Ltd | 19-Apr-2024 | White Paper

Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins returns on June 17-18 in a new location for 2024 - the vibrant food and beverage hub, Chicago

Replacement Isn't the Future. Variety Is.

Replacement Isn't the Future. Variety Is.

Content provided by ADM | 22-Mar-2024 | White Paper

Successfully navigating the intersection of food and technology can help your business meet evolving consumer demands.

Some home truths about real prebiotic dietary fibre

Some home truths about real prebiotic dietary fibre

Content provided by BENEO | 22-Mar-2024 | Product Presentation

Confused about prebiotics? You’re not the only one! Food developers wanting to work with prebiotic dietary fibre are faced with an abundance of products...

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more