Snacks: Functional & Flavourful

By Meline Beach

Sweet, savoury, spicy, indulgent or healthy, today’s convenience stores take a chunk out of junk food and satisfy a variety of cravings on the go. For many busy consumers, a local convenience store is their go-to destination for something quick. Offering a variety of snack options that cater to a wide-range consumer base will solidify your share-of-wallet.

Fruit Chips & Veggie Fries

Take for example, Oh! Naturals – a relatively new brand established in 2012, featuring healthy snacks made from whole fruits and vegetables. Based out of Calgary, Alberta with ingredients and manufacturing facilities in Vietnam, President Rhonda Goldberg founded Oh! Naturals as a means of filling in the snack category with potassium-rich whole fruits and vegetables designed for people with food allergies, sensitivities or who prefer something healthier on-the-go – be it students, millennials, parents, athletes and other active and health-conscious individuals. 

With two products currently in the market and a third in production, Oh! Naturals’ banana chips and sweet potato fries have the perfect crunch, texture and satisfying taste due to its unique vacuum-frying process cooked at low temperatures for a longer period of time. This helps lock in flavour, freshness and nutritional content. 

Oh! Naturals banana chips are packaged in 100-gram bags and available in three flavours: natural, chocolate and strawberry. Their sweet potato product, packaged in 80-gram bags is available in mesquite BBQ, chili and lime or salt and pepper. Both product lines are made from ripe fruit and vegetables and have a shelf life of one year. 

Goldberg’s claim to product fame is that Oh! Naturals banana chips and sweet potato fries are more substantial than a potato chip and linger longer in your mouth. Made from whole fruits and vegetables, not powders, Oh! Naturals is a vegan, plant-based snack that doesn’t contain preservatives, sulphate, cholesterol or allergens (gluten and nut-free) and has a lower fat content than many other snacks.

“Naturally sweet with no added sugar, salt or dairy, the texture of our banana chips tastes like a smoothie,” says Goldberg. “Consumed on their own or as a topping for salads, yogurts and other snack mixtures, Oh! Naturals is a proud plant-based fun and healthy snack for all ages.

Next up is Oh! Naturals’ Banana Jack crisps, made from ripe bananas and jackfruit. Native to southern India, jackfruit is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and other important vitamins and minerals.

Oh! Naturals is currently available in Japan, Korea, the United States and Canada – at Safeway, Sobeys, Costco (Japan), GNC (Mexico) and soon to be 7-Eleven. If you’re interested in listing this brand as a franchisee, contact your distribution channel. If you’re an independent retailer and wish to list Oh! Naturals, please contact Rhonda Goldberg directly at https://oh-naturals.myshopify.com/. 

International influences

Stanmar International North America President and CEO Marin Pamensky has seen the snack category evolve across his 35-plus years of experience in international trade. He takes pride in sourcing and distributing innovative products from around the world and represents a number of branded and private label consumer products across South Africa, Australia, Mexico, UK, Canada and the United States. This includes snack foods for the C&G channel, such as Rabba Fine Foods, Circle K and a number of independents. In particular, Pamensky represents On the Go Fusion Snack Edamame – Berry, Tropical Berry and Goji Berry fusions and Mister Sweet Liquorice, Wine Gums and Nougat Bar. On that list, liquorice and wine gums have been their best-selling products in c-stores in Canada, as well as On the Go Fusion Edamame Fusion Snack, which won a Best Salty Snack award in 2019. 

“Finding new ways to apply natural flavours, colours and lower sugar in snack foods using natural ingredients, like chicory, coconut sugar and coconut oil is a current trend,” says Pamensky. “Consumers are more educated on the various benefits of better-for-you products and want cleaner products for themselves and their families.” 

Having access to global manufacturers, Pamensky is looking at bringing other innovative products to the Canadian market, including Daybreak Granola Trail Mixes.

“We are preparing final packaging for Canada and made some amazing changes to the current South African formulation as all ingredients are non-GMO and gluten and sulphate-free,” says Pamensky. “We’ve had amazing feedback nationally as people are pleasantly surprised at how crunchy and flavourful the various combinations are.”

Truly Canadian

Another crunchy and flavourful snack is perhaps a more famous Canadian product, having made its debut on national television eight years ago. Based out of western Canada, Chris Emery and Larry Finnson launched OMG! Clusters with the support of Arlene Dickinson, one of five dragons on CBC’s Dragon’s Den – a popular Canadian reality television show that features aspiring entrepreneurs who pitch their business concepts and products to a panel of Canadian business moguls. The show’s producers aired an update on the product, which featured OMG’s extended flavour offering and expanded distribution channels.

OMG’s are chocolatey graham clusters mixed with a variety of inclusions, such as toffee bits, almonds and pretzels. OMG’s are available in the C&G channel, including 7-Eleven across Canada, Circle K in Ontario and the western provinces, Federated Co-op’s as well as some Petro and Shell gas stations. They’re are also available nationally through a number of distributors, including UDN Group, Core-Mark, Wallace & Carey, Regitan and ITWAL, starting April 2020.

Emery and Finnson are launching a new 98g impulse format of OMG! Clusters in March 2020.

“We’re excited to launch our new 98g bags in three flavours: Milk Chocolatey Almond & Toffee, Vanilla Almond & Toffee, and Peanut Butter Pretzel, that come in stand-up resealable bags which are perfect for the C&G channel,” says Emery, co-founder of OMG’s. “The bags have a new design that features an image of the Canadian flag at the top left corner, which we feel is important to emphasize for consumers interested in supporting Canadian businesses.”

Decadent delights

Another chocolatey innovation with an international flair, also invented by a Canadian is a product called Coco Karamel Alfajor. These South American-influenced decadent delights are shared in all aspects of Argentinian culture and are handcrafted in Calgary, Alberta by Canadian entrepreneur and President of Coco Karamel Lisa Mansilla. 

“We use the highest quality dulce de leche sourced right from Argentina,” says Mansilla. “Even the equipment to produce this truly authentic treat is from Argentina.”

Alfajores’ dulce de leche is sandwiched between two cookies and are available in three flavours; dark chocolate, white chocolate and traditional with vanilla cookie and coconut.

“Our alfajores are shelf stable for five months and are perfectly paired with coffee or tea offerings,” says Mansilla. “While they fit within the snack cookie category, they resemble more like a pie with a custard or caramel filling.”

Launched nearly 19 months ago, Alfajores are individually packaged and sold at all Calgary Co-Ops, select Safeways, Sobeys and Save-On-Foods, as well as select specialty stores and cafes across Canada. With a decent shelf life and margin potential of 63 per cent, Mansilla is keen to make Coco Karamel Alfahor available as a grab-and-go after school snack or coffee break to consumers in the C&G channel. Interested retailers can contact her directly by email lisa@cocokaramel.com, phone 403-923-1990 or visit https://www.cocokaramel.com/. 

From crisp, fried fruits and vegetables and international influences to decadent chocolates and sweet treats, a variety of snacks enable today’s consumer to maintain control over their choices in seeking to satisfy their hunger or boost their energy on-the-go at their local convenience store. The key to snack success is to offer a balance between better-for-you and sweet and salty, made locally or imported that meets the needs of your customer base.  

 

 

 

Meline Beach is a Toronto-based communications practitioner and frequent contributor to Convenience & Carwash Canada. In addition to freelance writing, she provides communications and public relations support to businesses across Canada. She can be reached at info@mlbcomms.ca