Additionally, Crunchmaster’s Grain Free Crackers line will debut a new recipe during the fourth quarter, using olive oil and an optimized formula to ensure that the products comply with Paleo and vegan claims.
“When merchandising and promoting grain-free snacks, it’s important to focus on two key customer groups — those who are already aware and seeking grain-free options, and those who aren’t yet familiar with the benefits of grain-free snacks,” advises Bennie. “First, prominently labeling products with nutritional value and claims … on the front of the package lets customers know right away they’ve found a grain-free snack. These claims also are prominent in our sales materials.
“For those who aren’t familiar or proactively looking for grain-free snacks, education is essential to help customers understand the benefits and why they might choose a grain-free product over a competitive option,” he continues. “Crunchmaster promotes the benefits of its products through its website and social media to help educate consumers before they even reach the grocery store aisle.”
“At LesserEvil, we like to experiment with ingredients that are sustainable and can create something truly innovative and delicious,” says Charles Coristine, president and CEO of Danbury, Conn.-based LesserEvil Healthy Brands Co., which recently introduced two new grain-free snacks at Natural Products Expo East in September, PeaNOTS and Sun Poppers. “We use cassava flour as a base in many of our products. Additionally, our new Sun Poppers are crafted with upcycled watermelon and pumpkin seeds. Our new PeaNOTS use peas, a water-efficient crop.”
LesserEvil’s grain-free products feature a prominent callout on the front of their packaging. “We work with the Paleo Foundation to certify our products as both Certified Paleo and Certified Grain-Free/Gluten-Free,” notes Coristine.
“Almond flour has been a major player in this space for years, and we use it in several of our products,” says Andrea Horowitz, senior manager, content and communications at Chicago-based Simple Mills, “However, we have been introducing new products made with a variety of nut and seed flours, including pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, flax seed, cashew and watermelon seed. These ingredients add key nutrients to our products while supporting our mission to encourage a diversified diet that will benefit both our physical health and the health of the planet.”
Case in point: Simple Mills’ new Sweet Thins snack line is made from a blend of watermelon seed, cashew, sunflower seed and flax seed flours. “Sales have steadily increased and will continue to rise as new innovations hit store shelves,” notes Horowitz of the brand’s products as a whole. “Consumers are intrigued by alternative ingredients and interested in experimenting with never-before-used ingredients — especially those that pack a nutritious punch.”
“Our products contain potato starch and sweet potato flour, which are used to replace what would be grains,” says Ashley Rogers, founder and CEO of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Spudsy, maker of the grain-free Sweet Potato Fry snack line in Hot, Vegan Ranch, Sea Salt and Cheese varieties — a departure from the usual corn-based offerings in this space. “Sweet potatoes are a great source of nutrients, and we only use upcycled sweet potatoes to make our delicious snacks. We do this because we are on a mission to help reduce food waste with our Save the Spud campaign. By utilizing ‘imperfect’ spuds, we’re able to not only offer a grain-free option, but also upcycle; this year we’re on track to save over 1 million imperfect sweet potatoes.”
Spudsy has drawn attention to its grain-free products via ads and influencer content.
Of course, for those eschewing grain, meatbased snacks have always been a logical choice. “At 4505, we benefit because our products are — and have always been — naturally grain free,” observes Greg O’Neal, chief marketing officer of San Francisco-based 4505 Meats, which recently launched 100% grain-free Butcher’s Snacks sausage links packed with up 24 grams of protein per link.
“4505 Meats pork rinds have had great success being merchandised in mainline salty snacks, right next to chips, popcorn, and other grain-based salty snacks,” notes O’Neal. “The brand has also seen success being merchandised in healthier alternative snack sets. In terms of off-shelf and feature merchandising, we love to participate in dietary — e.g., keto — and seasonal — e.g., New Year, New You — thematics that cater to grain- and carb-conscious shoppers.”