Snacks from the Sea readies Kelpie Chips for retail push with new packaging, formulation

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Snacks from the Sea
Image Credit: Snacks from the Sea

Related tags kelp Seaweed

Snacks from the Sea is moving beyond e-commerce with the help of new packaging and product formulations to make kelp’s health and sustainability more widely appreciated in the US, brand founder Jennifer Murphy told FoodNavigator-USA.

Snacks from the Sea’s Kelpie Chips​ are lightly fried seasoned kelp chips, available in Zesty Pizza, Chipotle and Salt & Pepper flavors, and can be purchased on Amazon. Each flavor is non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan and contains 8 grams of fiber per bag. 

In June, Snacks from the Sea will launch new packaging and a new formula for its products, which includes tweaks to the product’s seasoning. Murphy is also building out her sales team to expand into retail, focusing first on the West Coast and her home state of Arizona.

Seaweed snacks make their way onto US shores

Murphy came up with the idea after her mother suggested eating kelp soup as an energy pick-up for her busy schedule of being a parent. This inspired her to create a more accessible version of kelp with a chip format. 

While kelp and seaweed are consumed widely in Asia, US consumers are now becoming more aware of the health and sustainability benefits of seaweed products.

Kelp has a high protein and fiber content, which can help promote digestive health, Murphy explained. Kelp also grows quickly with few resources and sequesters carbon, making it ideal from a sustainability standpoint, she added. 

The North American seaweed snack market was valued at $36.26m in 2023 and is expected to grow by a 3.2% CAGR between 2024-2030 due to increased demand for seaweed extracts, according to Stellar Market Research ​data. Recent innovations in seaweed products, including chips, puffs and plant-based meats, were on display at this year’s Natural Products Expo West event​. 

"People have no idea how good [kelp] is for their health and their general wellbeing. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and kelp is the only plant that has ... fucoidan, and that is an amazing molecule that is really good for inflammation and also the immune system," Murphy said.  

From farmers’ markets to launching a brand: Learning the ins and outs of the CPG world

Murphy learned the complexities of food and beverage manufacturing firsthand and credited “nice people everywhere” for helping her launch the brand. Murphy initially fried the kelp and sampled it around at her local farmers’ market, and she faced some challenges scaling up the brand. 

Many co-manufacturers that Murphy initially tried to work with did not have expertise in manufacturing kelp and primarily focused on fried potato or tortilla chips, Murphy explained. 

Snacks from the Sea’s current co-manufacturer experimented with Murphy to find manufacturing settings from cooking temperature to time in the fryer to create the perfect chip texture, she added.  

"Nobody wanted to get involved because [kelp is] not known. People realized that there was a lot of R&D in trying to figure out how to make [a chip], and that was a huge stumbling block because it is not like potato chips or tortilla chips that they are familiar with. Everything had to be re-tested, and the procedure process had to be worked out. So, [it was a] huge learning curve," Murphy explained.

Beyond co-manufacturing challenges, Murphy also invested a lot of time in ensuring the seasoning blends worked well with the strong taste of kelp. Kelpie Chips are mainly offered in savory and salty flavors, but Murphy wants to expand into sweet taste eventually, including an apple cinnamon flavor, when she can work out the product formulation to her specifications.

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