Strategic advice for the food and beverage industry

Healthy snacking goes direct-to-consumer

Mindful snacks websiteWith mass-market supermarkets doing their best to migrate the profit margins on foods and beverages from brand-owners to themselves, companies in all categories are more and more engaged with trying to find new business models and alternative channels to reach the consumer.

It’s healthy snacking – the biggest part of the snacks market – which is taking the lead in pioneering the direct-to-consumer business model.

One pioneer is Mindful Snacks, based in Toronto, Canada. The company provides a full service delivering snacks to offices. It delivers not only fresh and cut fruit, but brands such as Kind, Nugo and Clif bars, Bounce energy balls, Danone Oikos greek yoghurt, Umpqua Oats, Kombuch Wonder Drink, Adagio Organic Teas as well as fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices under Mindful’s own brand.

James Tjan, the company’s founder, told New Nutrition Business that all products must have at least two of the attributes organic, non-GMO and natural. Sugar levels and clean label also matter and the company is offering more gluten-free items in response to a rising tide of customer requests.

Breakfast products are a growth area – increasingly younger workers skip breakfast before coming to the office. In response, more companies provide breakfast – and find that it boosts productivity.

Tjan says that he is careful not to be too proscriptive about health – and that caution is reflected in the company’s name. “Why don’t we have ‘healthy’ in our name? Why ‘mindful’? We don’t want to go to the extreme of saying everything has to be healthier and more nutritious. So, for instance, we also have ‘mindful treat’. Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is the better choice.”

To differentiate itself from delivery market leader Graze ( ) which is technology driven, Mindful focuses on low-tech and human contact. The people who deliver its snacks are encouraged to talk with people in the offices they deliver to, find out what they want and deepen the relationship. So far the “social” approach is working well, with growth driven through word-of-mouth.

Interestingly, there’s evidence in some markets of younger consumers (the so-called Generation Y) preferring to get their product somewhere other than traditional supermarkets. Some of that is because of lifestyle – but a big part is their attitude towards “big retail”.

For food and beverage companies, working with a direct-to-consumer company can be a great way to try out new concepts without the risk of launching straight into mass distribution – and keep more margin. Models like Mindful are going to become more important.

Posted in Editorial, Mainsite

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