Q&A: Our Little Rebellion CEO talks snack innovations

Q&A: Our Little Rebellion CEO talks snack innovations

Paul Nardone, CEO of BFY Brands (which launched Our Little Rebellion), on the future of snacking in America.

It’s no secret that the snack category is booming. According to a 2015 report by Mintel, 94 percent of Americans said they snack at least once per day, and younger consumers (especially millennials) are highly prone to multiple snacking events. In some cases, those born between the years 1982 and 2004 use snacks to replace entire meals.

One possible reason more folks are choosing to snack: the explosion of better-for-you options that deliver on health, nutrition and taste.

Snackers now don’t have to choose between super-salty Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or a sad, unappealing handful of raw almonds. They can instead tuck into a bowl of paleo-friendly “granola,” organic popcorn, raw, three-ingredient crackers or, in new company Our Little Rebellion’s case (launched by BFY Brands), a gluten-free PopCorner, Bean Crisp or Crinkle, made with potato starch, consciously sourced non-GMO yellow corn and a litany of spices that tickle taste buds.

Here, we chat with Paul Nardone, CEO of BFY Brands, about the evolving snack category, and what the future of snacking looks like.

What sets Our Little Rebellion apart from other snack products that will inspire consumers to choose this brand? 

Paul Nardone: We created Our Little Rebellion to prove to consumers that there’s a better way to snack and that taste and health can coexist. Not only do each of our snack pillars—PopCorners, Bean Crisps and Crinkles—deliver bold flavors and better-for-you ingredients, we deliver in overall nutrition. While many brands tout healthier options, they often contain high fat content or calories, and lack fiber. Our Little Rebellion snacks follow through on the better-for-you claim, whether it’s our Bean Crisps that boast 3 grams of fiber per serving, or PopCorners which contain only 2.5 to 4.5 grams of total fat, in contrast to comparable items with up to 8 or more grams.

Our Little Rebellion, in partnership with our supplier Bunge, created our own non-GMO corn supply chain that hasn’t been available before, so that every consumer can feel confident knowing that they’re snacking on the highest-quality non-GMO snacks without questionable ingredients. As consumer demand for non-GMO ingredients continues to heighten and more shoppers want to know where exactly where their food comes from, our supply chain allows us to trace each crop back to the 59 Nebraskan family farm regions in which it grew.

How does sourcing from Nebraska family farmers differ from the traditional model of grain acquisition?

PN: Our Little Rebellion uses only non-GMO farm-harvested corn from 59 dedicated growers in Nebraska. Traditional farming methods source multiple varieties of corn from a large pool that comes from various locations. One of the major benefits of our model is that it allows these farmers to compete with large-scale commercial farming and provides them with a sustainable business model that can be passed on for generations to come.

Not only that, but sourcing from solely this specific pool of farmers also provides us with better quality, consistency and the ability to trace every crop back to the region from which it came. Additionally, we’re making it possible for food and beverage manufacturers to tap an unprecedented supply of non-GMO corn for use in their own products for the first time ever. The majority of corn used in the U.S. is genetically modified, and through the new supply we’ve helped establish, food makers across the U.S. have new access to this critical ingredient, all while sustaining small-scale family farmers.

What forces are helping the “popped” snacking trend gain steam?

PN: Popped snacks are definitely increasing in popularity because they offer a healthier alternative to fried options with fewer calories and fat, while still delivering that satisfying crunch we all crave. Our Little Rebellion has taken popping technology one step further with a patented technology that gives the extra crunch we all crave.

Consumers care more than ever before about what they’re putting in their bodies, and they are doing their research. Millennial shoppers for example, expect their snacks to be flavorful, portable and healthful. Our popped snacks not only deliver on taste and texture, but also they are perfect for those with and without special diets.

What does the brand rollout look like? Are you targeting natural or conventional channels… or both?

PN: Our Little Rebellion has begun shipping to conventional retailers, natural food stores and club and convenience channels across the United States, and you can already find our cornerstone pillar, PopCorners, on most JetBlue flights. Led by PopCorners, the new snack portfolio features vibrant new branding and now includes Bean Crisps and Crinkles. The new look focuses on bold colors coupled with real food photography showcasing the perfectly imperfect, light and crispy texture of each popped snack, to establish an iconic brand block on-shelf for all three distinct snack varieties.

Five years from now, what is your vision for the brand? Will it include expansion into other types of snack products?

PN: The new Bean Crisps are symbolic of our vision for the brand—namely developing unique and surprising ingredient combinations that deliver a great tasting snack with better-for-you qualities.

We will continually look to innovate and create new products that focus on whole ingredients, minimal processing and nutritional profiles that maximize the better-for-you experience. It’s important to us as a brand to provide snacking options that not only make for healthier options, but also are flavorful and fun!

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