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Distribution Roundup: Natural Brands Flock to Conventional

Meagan McGinnes

Natural brands are in demand, and not just from natural channel shoppers.

Companies are increasingly seeking placement on conventional grocery store shelves to connect with a wider group of consumers. From chickpea pasta to dehydrated cheese snacks, here is the latest in natural’s distribution news.

Kroger and Ahold Brings Banza into Retail Family

With the addition of Kroger and Ahold Delhaize, chickpea pasta maker Banza is expanding its presence in conventional grocery.

The brand’s penne, rotini, shells and elbows SKUs, will hit shelves this week at Kroger and affiliated retailers such as King Soopers and Ralph’s. Ahold Delhaize will carry penne, rotini, shells, and spaghetti lines at more than 650 Stop & Shop locations and select Giant locations throughout the Northeast starting in December.

The brand’s expansion comes after it announced the close of a $7.5 million series A financing round in August, along with the launch of six new pasta shapes. Banza co-founder Scott Rudolph previously told NOSH that that the recent growth is part of an overall strategy to attract new customers.

Founded in 2014 by Rudolph and his brother, Banza is currently sold nationwide in more than 6,000 stores including Target, Eataly, Jewel-Osco, The Fresh Market and Sprouts.

Walmart Adds Neilly’s and Base Culture

Pennsylvania-based Neilly’s Foods is bringing its frozen food line to Walmart. The retailer has signed on to carry four SKU’s of Neilly’s Afro-Caribbean and Hispanic-inspired products: baked chicken empanadas, baked beef empanadas, sweet plantain slices and yucca fries. The brand also recently gained placement at Weis Market, a regional grocery retailer with over 200 stores in the Mid Atlantic region, for its quick cooking bean line.

Neilly’s isn’t the only frozen brand adding Walmart to their retailer resume. Base Culture brought its sandwich bread, sweet banana bread, nutty pumpkin bread, almond butter brownie and sticky granola to the retail giant’s paleo frozen section of the store last month.

Both companies noted in statements that Walmart’s interest in their respective diet-focused products is beneficial to both brands’ larger goals to make healthy foods more accessible to a wider range of consumers.

Targets Stocks Brazi Bites, Sarah’s Sweet & Savory Snacks

Gluten-free, Brazilian cheese bread maker Brazi Bites announced its addition to Target shelves last month. The line’s cheddar & parmesan, garlic asiago, and three cheese pizza flavors are now available in 222 store locations including in Minneapolis, Miami, Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta, Austin, Houston and Dallas.

“We’re thrilled to be available in Target freezers,” Junea Rocha, co-founder and CEO of Brazi Bites, said in a statement. “The 222 store launch will serve as a test to assess how well Brazi Bites can perform in the competitive frozen snack category. If our products sell as well as expected, the brand will have an opportunity to expand nationally with Target in 2018.”

On the other end of the taste spectrum, Sarah’s Sweet & Savory Snacks announced last month that its peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and chocolate and vanilla ginger bags of nut, seed and confection snacks were added to 30 Target locations across Pennsylvania.

“We could not be more excited to partner with Target and their local initiative to feature Pennsylvania based companies in their local stores,” Sarah Lanphier, CEO of Sarah’s Snacks, said in a statement. “This opportunity will help us gain more regional exposure, and if it does well, the ability to expand through Target on a national level.”

Emmy’s Organics Expands to Hannaford

Emmy’s Organics, a clean coconut cookie company, announced last month that it will now be available at all Hannaford locations. The Ahold-owned retailer has taken on the Ithaca, N.Y.-based brand’s signature dark cacao and vanilla bean flavors, as well as its new peanut butter SKU.

“Emmy’s Organics and Hannaford share the same dedication to providing high-quality food,” Samantha Abrams, co-owner of Emmy’s Organics, said in a statement. “We’re excited to give customers a wholesome snacking option that not only delivers on taste, but ingredient quality and health needs, too.”

Hannaford joins a growing list of new store placements for the cookie maker, which includes Sprouts, New Seasons Market, Wegmans, Whole Foods and 7,500 Starbucks locations nationwide.

Other notable distribution news includes:

  • Gabriella’s Kitchen Grows with Sprouts: The maker of skinnypasta frozen entrées announced last month that its products are being sold at all Sprouts locations. The addition is part of the company’s overall growth plan to expand nationally. The company added over a thousand doors last month.
  • Costco Begins Trial With Moon Cheese: Enwave, the parent company that created dehydrated snacking cheese brand Moon Cheese, announced that the brand will be available at Costco’s Midwest division locations this December. The trial launch will mark a new 10-ounce package format.
  • Snoqualmie Deepens California Presence: Snoqualmie Organic Ice Cream’s custard-style pints were added to over 200 VONS, Pavilions and Albertsons locations in Southern California this month. Previously the brand was only found in California retailers including Gelson’s, Frazier Farms, Jensen’s and other regional stores.
  • Twang’s Flavored Sugars Hit HEB: Twang, the maker of premium flavored salts and sugar, announced last month that its brand, Café Zuca, is now available in over 200 H-E-B locations. The Texas-based grocer added the brand’s flavored sugar toppings in the sugar section. The company also launched exclusive flavors for H-E-B, including Pumpkin Spice, Hazelnut and a Latin line: Horchata, Dulce de Leche, and Tres Leches.

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