Distribution Roundup: Hummustir Goes Nationwide, Birch Bender Adds Hannaford

by Meagan McGinnes

For a food brand, innovation is key. But unless consumers can actually discover and try a company’s new, original product, that work could all be for naught.

From shelf-stable hummus to specialty toffee, these NOSH brands are not only innovating, but also getting their products in more consumers’ mouths. Here are some of the industry’s newest distribution additions.

Hummustir Adds Retailers Nationwide, Seeks Investors

Even though Hummistir only launched in October, the shelf-stable hummus company has announced that its products can now be found in retailers across the country.

The organic, non-refrigerated hummus is now sold in 1,327 stores, including retailers like Walmart, Wegmans, Fairway, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Citarella, Central Market, Woodmans Market and Fresh Thyme. Co-founder Rakesh Barmecha told NOSH the company has more store placement deals in the works and expects to be in five to six thousand stores by the end of the year. The hummus retails for anywhere from $3.99-4.99.

Currently the company’s focus is retail, which Barmecha said makes up about 97 percent of its sales, but he added that the company will be launching a foodservice product toward the end of the year. They are also in talks with national chains to see if retailers are interested in integrating the food service line within their menus.

Store count is not the only growth the company is seeing. Hummustir has also launched a round of funding this month, according to Barmecha. “So far we’ve been self-funding, but now as we are raising up to a higher notch we will be raising capital,” he said.

Barmecha hopes the product’s innovative packaging, which is designed to preserve freshness without the need for preservatives, and its play to trends like customization and better-for-you, plant-based foods will make the company appealing to future investors.

“We are looking for someone who shares the passions that we share. We launched this brand and invested so much of our own money and our time to get it off the ground because we really believe in this product. If someone believes in this product after tasting it, that is the kind of person we are looking for.”

Birch Benders Adds Hannaford, Fairway to Retailers

Birch Benders has added more retailers across the country after its recent reformulation. The better-for-you pancake and waffle mix maker has added Hannaford, Jewel-Osco, Lowes Foods, Dierbergs, Fairway, Rosauers, and Market of Choice to its resume of retailers.

The news comes on the heels of the brand’s announcement that it was added to Whole Foods nationwide this March. The baking mixes — which include unique varieties such as sweet potato, chocolate peppermint, six-grain and paleo — are also sold in retailers including Target, Sprouts, Hy-Vee, SpartanNash, and ShopRite.

“We are so excited to be expanding our distribution and allowing our consumers to find our products even more readily,” Lizzi Ackerman, CMO and co-founder of Birch Benders, said in a statement. “Our ultimate motivation is to upgrade and elevate the pantries of Americans nationwide, and so far the reception from retailers, distributors and consumers has been extremely positive.”

Birch Benders also recently launched its Peanut Butter Protein Pancake & Waffle Mix as a Sprouts exclusive through June. The company said additional portfolio innovations are expected to rollout throughout 2017.

Amelia Toffee Enters Convenience

Amelia Toffee is bringing its sweets from hotels like the Ritz-Carlton to convenience stores.

The artisan toffee company is now selling three newly-developed products — southern heat peanut toffee, bold brew peanut toffee and salty bean coffee toffee — at 26 GATE locations in Jacksonville.

“This is really a nice match,” CEO Anita Comisky said in a statement. “The Chamber wants to promote local business growth, and we are contributing to that by adding two additional part-time people to supply GATE Stores. We’re keeping our local cardboard box suppliers busy, too.”

Comisky added that the c-store collaborated on the toffee’s development, as the products, packaging and price points offered in these locations are different from the toffees sold at other outlets. “They understand their customer profile, and worked with us on three unique flavors that would be compatible,” she said.

Jackson’s Honest On Shelves at Sprouts

Jackson’s Honest coconut oil potato chips made their way to Sprouts Farmers Markets’ shelves this month.

The chips are available at all 250 locations of the retailer’s locations, which span 15 states. The addition brings the Colorado-based brand’s presence to 3,000-plus stores from national chains to local co-ops.

“We’re really excited to serve Sprouts customers,” Jackson’s Honest CEO and founder Megan Reamer said in a statement. “Plenty of our customers for years by phone, email and social media have asked about availability at Sprouts. We’re thrilled now to be there.”

The news follow’s the company’s rollout of three new flavors, as well as a sprouted red-corn iteration of its restaurant-style chip.

Watcharee Adds Retailer With Similar Roots

Thai sauce brand Watcharee is now available in 170 Hannaford stores across New England and New York. Founder Watcharee Limanon, a recognized Thai culinary artist trained in Bangkok, said that he is happy his ready-to-eat sauces can now be found in a company that shares its roots.

“As a Maine company, we are thrilled to be joining hands with Hannaford, which also has Maine roots,” Watcharee said in a statement. “While our product line sells very well in specialty food stores across the U.S., Hannaford is the first major supermarket chain to include our products as part of their Asian and specialty food offerings. In our view, this is an indication that tastes are changing and that there is an increasing demand for authentic flavors.”