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Peatos Maker Expects To ‘Unjunk’ More Snack Food Categories

Peatos Maker Expects To ‘Unjunk’ More Snack Food Categories 273 273 petervg

Shelby Report

A couple of years ago, World Peas Brand took on the daunting task of creating a healthy crunchy cheese snack—a clean-label alternative to the national brand.

The company’s creation, Peatos, are made with a base of non-GMO peas and lentils (pulses) instead of corn, and the seasoning used contains no artificial flavors, colors or MSG. After Natural Products Expo West in March this year, interest in the product in the food retail trade “skyrocketed,” according to Nick Desai, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based World Peas.

Kroger began selling the snack chainwide in May 2018.

With that success buoying the company, World Peas plans to use Peatos as a springboard into other kinds of clean-label snacks, he says.

“We are going to continue to go after every major junk snack category there is. The opportunities are endless.—it’s a $28 billion market,” Desai told The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves, VP-West.

Snacks similar to Takis or Funyuns, but made from a base of peas and lentils, may be next for World Peas, he said.

A healthier base

A former investment banker, Desai acquired a company in 2011 whose business was trail mixes and nuts that primarily were sold in convenience stores and gas stations. The business expanded when he secured a long-term license with Sunkist Growers for a line of trail mix and freeze-dried fruit snacks. The Sunkist lines were launched into Walmart stores nationwide in 2015. By 2016, the decision was made to move into salty snacks, he said, which led to the acquisition of World Peas Brand, which at the time was making two products—roasted salted fava bean snacks and roasted salted green pea snacks. The products were sold through the natural foods supply channel in retailers like Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market and Target.

The goal was to “come out with a world of salty snacks that would fit into that whole mission” (making healthier fruit- and vegetable-based snack foods) “and be a strong addition to the produce section” in both mainstream grocery and club stores, he said.

When brainstorming with company executives, investors and board members about new products for World Peas, Desai thought back to his childhood. Although he was born in Orange County, California, his parents were from India, and he traveled there quite a bit as a child. “Junk food” snacks in India are made from a base of peas and lentils instead of corn or potato like many of the most popular snacks in the U.S.

“The difference in the nutritional statement because of that (base) is pretty striking. Indian junk food snacks have two times the protein level, three times the fiber levels, and it’s all plant-based protein,” he said.

About that time, Americans were showing great interest in plant-based protein, healthy eating and healthier snacking. But their behavior wasn’t really reflecting that interest: Doritos is a $2 billion brand, and Cheetos is not far behind at $1.7 billion, he said, citing IRI data. On the other hand, kale chip sales in the U.S. total $50 million or less.

And while natural snacks are found in abundance at natural food retailers, those snacks, Desai says, “deliver on a lot of the nutritional claims but they don’t have that flavor explosion that you can get when you’re eating a junk food snack. You’re kind of forced to choose, right?”

World Peas’ goal was to give snackers both the nutrition and taste they were seeking.

That brainstorming team included a former research and development executive from a major snack company; a former food company president; and a supply chain chief from a national snack maker. They set their sights on the puffed snack category, which has been dominated by Frito-Lay’s Cheetos for the past half-century, he said.

During the research and development process, which lasted more than a year, “we were obsessed with making the thing taste, feel, ‘walk the talk,’ like junk snacks,” he said.

Peatos were launched in late 2017.

In addition to the base of the product being different from traditional snacks, World Peas also made its seasoning free of artificial colors, flavors and MSG—things moms often are looking to eliminate from their kids’ diets.

But that’s not cheap, he said.

“Our seasoning four times more expensive on a per-pound basis than a traditional cheese puff would use,” Desai said.

Getting the color right, and natural, was the most difficult part, but the company was able to achieve that as well.

Today, Peatos are available in Classic Cheese, Masala, Fiery Hot and Chili Cheese flavors in 1-oz. and 3-oz. bags.

Frito-Lay sent a cease-and-desist letter to World Peas Brand in May, saying Peatos too closely resembles the Cheetos brand. Peatos uses a tiger image on the front of its bag; Cheetos, a cheetah. Peatos uses the slogan, “Tigers live longer than cheetahs.”

That media attention, coupled with a 1-oz. pack of Peatos being a “Free Friday” download for Kroger in September and “millions of new people” trying the product, “the whole thing has just kind of taken off,” Desai says. “The interest in the product is just astronomical.”

In addition to Kroger, Peatos now are available in Walmart in the Northeast, Safeway, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions as well as Amazon.com.

Cheetos vs Peatos Vegan Rad Cats World Peas Peatos Plant Protein

Peatos brand is ‘exploding right now,’ says CEO; Cheetos cease and desist letter ‘the highest form of flattery,’ says legal expert.

Peatos brand is ‘exploding right now,’ says CEO; Cheetos cease and desist letter ‘the highest form of flattery,’ says legal expert. 273 273 Kelsey Berryhill

Food Navigator Cheetos Wold Peas Tigers live longer than cheetahsBy: Elaine Watson

Receiving a cease and desist letter from a multinational is clearly no cause for celebration, although in some respects it’s the “highest form of flattery,” observed one legal expert quizzed by FoodNavigator-USA over the clash between extruded snack brand Cheetos, and Peatos, a pulse-based rival causing a stir in the produce aisles. Read full article here. 


A cheesy challenge: Cheetos threatens rival snack brand Peatos with legal action

A cheesy challenge: Cheetos threatens rival snack brand Peatos with legal action 273 273 petervg

This is a real copycat alert!

By: Randee Dawn

If you’re going to tease a tiger, make sure you have a very big stick.

And if you’re a relatively new, cheesy snack brand calling yourself Peatos, you’d better be ready to battle the big guys: namely, Cheetos.

PepsiCo Inc., the parent company of Frito-Lay’s Cheetos, has sent upstart company Snack It Forward’s World Peas brand a cease-and-desist letter after its new Peatos treats began hitting the shelves. The Wall Street Journal reported that PepsiCo says Peatos “is confusingly similar to and dilutes the Cheetos brand.”

Bring it on, says Snack It Forward, which not only features a tiger made of Peatos on its cover packaging (Cheetos is known for its famous cheetah mascot) but also features an entire website section that compares the two snacks.

“We’re the Tigers, filled to the brim with all the nutrients needed to keep you moving forward, for longer,” notes the page. “Our proprietary blend consists of 2x the protein, 3x the fiber, and less fat than anything that corny cheetah has to offer.” Peatos has been around since 2014 but this year, the company expanded distribution to major stores like Kroger, Mariano’s, Safeway, Vons and Albertsons.

The site also boasts, “Tigers live longer than cheetahs.” Talk about a Gouda burn!

According to Peatos’ site, their product is made with “pluses,” the edible seeds of beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils, whereas Cheetos, by contrast, are largely made with corn, artificial cheese seasoning and whey protein. Two flavors of Peatos (Masala and Fiery Hot) are vegan, which has apparently pleased many diet-conscious snackers. All of the brand’s flavors are gluten-free.

Of course, Cheetos is a huge, well-known brand that’s been around for over 50 years; in 2017 it was the top cheese-based snack in the U.S., selling over $1 billion worth of product. That’s a pretty hefty cat fight to start.

Is PepsiCo open to ceding some of the cheesy territory? Apparently not, PepsiCo’s Global Insights Director Maneesh Kaushik told CNBC.

“These small, niche brands are like a shoal of piranhas,” he said. “Every single bite doesn’t really hurt you, but together, they can really cause a lot of pain.”

That may be true, but it’s now up to the legal system to let consumers know if this tiger really has any teeth.


Cheetos Goes After Snack Brand Peatos With Cease-And-Desist Letter

Cheetos Goes After Snack Brand Peatos With Cease-And-Desist Letter 273 273 petervg

By Newser Editors  | Newser

They’re orange, and they’re called Peatos. The takeoff on Cheetos is unmistakable, and the snack behemoth isn’t happy about it. The Wall Street Journal reports that Cheetos maker Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to World Peas Brand Peatos.

The Cheetos lawyers say Peatos, made of peas and lentils and pitched as a healthier alternative, borrows too much in design from the bigger brand. That includes Peatos’ paw-print logo and the slogan “Tigers live longer than cheetahs.” New York Business Journalreports World Peas CEO Nick Desai didn’t shy away from the Cheetos connection when the product launched earlier this year.

“If you look at the $4 billion puffed snack category, you find the dominant player Cheetos on one end bursting with taste and mass market appeal, but full of empty calories,” he said in a statement.

“I personally love Cheetos, but I know I cannot and should not eat them anymore,” Desai continued. “It is not crazy to think that we may soon find that corny Cheetah on the endangered species list.” FoodNavigator-USA quotes Desai as having pitched his snack as having twice the protein (at 4 grams) and three times the fiber (at 3 grams) as Cheetos, while being slightly lower in calories and free of artificial colors and flavors.

The Journal frames the issue as part of a larger one in which Pepsi is trying to fend off a slew of startup brands billed as healthier choices.

Cat Fight: Cheetos Maker Pepsi Challenges Orange Snack Rival

Cat Fight: Cheetos Maker Pepsi Challenges Orange Snack Rival 273 273 petervg

By Annie Gasparro

Fight with Peatos, made from peas and lentils, is fresh example of tension between big food makers and upstart brands

The maker of Cheetos says it is fighting a copycat.

PepsiCo Inc.’s PEP -0.40% Frito-Lay division, which makes the crunchy orange-colored snack, has accused a new competitor called Peatos of trademark violations. Peatos is a skinny orange-colored snack made from peas and lentils.

The manufacturer, World Peas Brand Peatos, received a cease-and-desist letter from Pepsi in May claiming that the Peatos name, paw-print logo and slogan, “tigers live longer than cheetahs,” disparage Cheetos.

Pepsi didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Like other big food makers, Pepsi is losing market share to upstart brands that resonate with demand for more healthful or natural products.

“These small, niche brands are like a shoal of piranhas,” Pepsi’s Global Insights Director Maneesh Kaushik said at an event in France in June. “Every single bite doesn’t really hurt you, but together, they can really cause a lot of pain.”

Peatos has sold $5 million of its chips in the seven months since their debut. Nick Desai, chief executive of Snack It Forward LLC, which owns World Peas Brand Peatos, said he expects to reach $20 million in sales next year. Cheetos makes around $1.5 billion in annual sales in the U.S., according to data from market research firm IRI.

Mr. Desai said there was nothing wrong with riffing off of Cheetos’s name and marketing. “It just tells us that we’re on to something big,” he said.

A bag of Classic Cheese Peatos

A bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

The CEO said Peatos was created as a slightly healthier snack food that would still have mass appeal. To do so, he said the company decided to name and market the snack in a way that would make it familiar to consumers.

A serving of Peatos has 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, compared to 2 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fiber in Cheetos. Peatos also has slightly fewer calories, less fat and sodium than Cheetos.

Mr. Desai received the cease-and-desist request from Pepsi when Peatos went on sale at 2,000 Kroger Co. grocery stores in May. Peatos are sold there in the produce section, a coveted position as shoppers spend more time browsing for fresh food.

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Rapidly changing ideas about what’s healthy are causing strong headwinds for supermarkets. WSJ’s Ken Brown breaks down 3 things they’re doing right. Photo: Getty Images.

Pepsi said in the letter to Peatos reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that the Peatos name is “confusingly similar” to and “dilutes” the Cheetos brand. Pepsi also said the tagline “tigers live longer than cheetahs” falsely implies that people who eat Peatos may live longer than Cheetos snackers.

Peatos has applied to trademark the tagline with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Pepsi has said it will contest that application.

“Frito-Lay welcomes honest and fair competition. However, we cannot condone the misuse of our trademarks…and free-riding on our investments in the Cheetos brand to elevate yours,” said the letter signed by Pepsi’s senior marketing counsel, Jenny Allenbaugh.

Mr. Desai said he replied to the letter and that the two companies’ lawyers have been communicating via email since then.

Peatos’s board of directors wanted Mr. Desai to acquiesce to Pepsi and change the snack’s name. He worried some investors would pull out of the company.

“They thought I was crazy for antagonizing them,” Mr. Desai said.

Mr. Desai and his attorneys assured board members and investors that Peatos wasn’t violating trademark law and that they should fight back. But he said he is concerned about the cost of defending Peatos against litigation from Pepsi.

Peatos plans to start a crowdfunding site on Tuesday that will offer backers discounted cases of Peatos and branded merchandise in exchange for donations.

“They have way more money than us to tie us up with all kinds of litigation,” Mr. Desai said.

4 Ideas For Guilt-Free Summer Snacking

4 Ideas For Guilt-Free Summer Snacking 273 273 petervg

By: Meagan McGinnes

Chester the Cheetah might be the ruler of the snack set, but rather than fight it out directly with healthy alternative brand Peatos, the Cheetos mascot has instead sicced his lawyers on the competitor.

In May, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, which makes Cheetos, accused World Peas Brand’s Peatos, which uses peas and lentils in its version of the traditional crunchy cheese flavored snack, of trademark infringement. In a letter sent to the smaller company that was recently obtained by the Wall Street Journal, PepsiCo alleges that Peatos’ name and paw-print logo are “confusingly similar” to Cheetos and that Peato’s slogan, “tigers live longer than cheetahs,” unfairly denigrates the Cheetos brand.

Peatos launched seven months ago and is now sold in the produce section in over 4,000 stores with retailers such as Kroger, Safeway, Albertsons and Walmart, as well as food service locations like Google headquarters. Nick Desai, the CEO of Snack It Forward LLC (the company that acquired World Peas in 2016), told NOSH that so far, the company has sales of old $5 million, of its chip snack and expects to reach $20 million in sales next year. Snack it Forward also owns the licensing rights to Sunkist products in the U.S.

Desai believes his play on Cheetos’s name and marketing is fair as he is an alternative to a snack that shoppers are familiar with, noting that consumers often use the name Cheetos to describe any company making this product type, not just its own brand.

“If I put a cotton swab on your desk, you would say, ‘Hey, thanks for the Q-tip.’ There are certain brands that are associated with an entire category of products and Cheetos is one of those products,” Desai said. “It’s more about this dominance they’ve had and now someone is challenging that… I can imagine they would be a little intimidated by that.”

PepsiCo did not immediately return NOSH’s request for comment.

There is no active litigation at this time, but in addition to the cease-and-desist letter, Desai said PepsiCo has threatened to contest Peatos application to trademark its tagline. For now, Desai said the company is “standing firm” and currently has no plans to change its packaging or branding.

“You can’t stop or stifle innovation,” he said. “So what if we call it Tiger Puffs instead of Peatos and we keep our tiger on the front of the bag? What if we change our marketing from ‘tigers live longer than cheetahs’ to ‘tigers are better’? I am just making up stuff here, but my point is it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it is the product and they can’t do anything about the product.”

Desai nevertheless acknowledged that his company doesn’t have the same financial backing as Cheetos, which annually makes around $1.5 billion in sales in the U.S. alone, according to data from market research firm IRI. That resource difference can lead to an uneven legal playing field, experts noted.

Trademark law expert Rakesh Amin, a partner at law firm Amin Talati & Upadhye, told NOSH that the discovery phase of a trademark case can cost, on average, $400,000 and through trial upwards of $700,000, on average. While a drop in the bucket for large CPG brands, this expenditure can prove challenging for emerging competitors. If a startup does decide to contest a trademark claim, Amin advises startups take a data-driven approach to prove they are not violating a big company’s rights.

“First you have to validate that. And if you can validate that through a search, an attorney opinion, that really goes a long way,” Amin said. “It is not gospel, but it is data points showing, ‘I have a very valid argument and I’m not infringing or diluting Frito Lay’s trademarks. Even though they may be arguably similar, we think they are dissimilar enough to avoid the likelihood of confusion or delusion.’”

This kind of “David vs. Goliath situation” has history in the chip category, and it’s one that John Foraker, Annie’s founder and former CEO and now Once Upon A Farm co-founder and CEO, warned about via a LinkedIn post about the trademark infringement claim.

“[Peatos] may get away with it legally in the end, but not until they spend a fortune litigating it and being distracted by it. This is a battle, but only part of the much bigger war to come,” Foraker wrote. “I am old enough to remember the merciless beat-down that Frito-Lay put on Anheuser-Busch’s Eagle Snacks brand in the 1990’s… Winning on better product, which Peato’s probably is, is already hard enough in this space. Doing that while also declaring war on a DSD super-power will make things even more challenging.”

Desai said that in the end the company “will do what makes business sense,” but Peatos is currently using this battle waged by PepsiCo as a spotlight for its brand. Peatos launched a crowdfunding campaign this week as a marketing tool to raise awareness about the brand and gain brand ambassadors. Backers will get discounted cases of Peatos and branded merchandise in exchange for donations. As of publication time, the brand had raised over $2,500 with 35 backers.

“They have money for Super Bowl ads,” Desai said. “But since we don’t, we say the people are our Super Bowl ad and we are going to galvanize them through crowdfunding.”

One-on-One With A ‘Challenger’
Brand CEO

One-on-One With A ‘Challenger’
Brand CEO
273 273 petervg

Nick Desai is CEO of Snack It Forward, maker of World Peas Brand Peatos, a plant-based puffed cheese snack that debuted in Kroger and Albertsons stores this year. He’s the guest in WGB’s Breakroom:

Jon Springer: Peatos bypassed the natural food channel and went direct to traditional retailers such as Albertsons and Kroger. How and why did this happen?

Nick Desai: The natural channel is not so natural anymore. Pricing pressures and consolidation among distributors, as well as a lack of transparency, have caused the natural channel leaders to resemble the big retailers and alienated their core small-brand clientele. Meanwhile, the big conventional retailers have shifted their mindset to attract millennials seeking challenger brands. We found a very friendly and supportive launch partner for Peatos in Kroger. Given that they sell six times the groceries nationally of Whole Foods, and they were willing to really get behind a younger brand, it was an easy choice for us.

To what extent have traditional retailers’ receptiveness to new brands softened, in your opinion?

I would say things have shifted dramatically. What would have been unheard of years ago is now very real. More forward-minded traditional retailers are seeking out and coddling younger innovative brands and challengers. They want to attract the new generation of consumers and millennials, and well-managed retailers like Kroger and Walmart are really shifting their mindset. Others are catching up or struggling. Natural retailers have made it easy by losing some of the “touchy-feely” elements that historically made them great launch partners for new brands.

Would debuting in Kroger and Albertsons have even been possible a few years ago?

It would have been much more difficult. Brands used to have to develop as a “child” in the natural channel so they could graduate to the “adulthood” of the conventional world. That is so different now. Bear in mind this doesn’t apply to all retailers; we have found certain retailers to be more progressive than others. Kroger and Walmart are doing particularly good jobs at this, in our view. When we chose Kroger to become our national launch partner for one of the most innovative snacks to hit the market in decades, we did not take the decision lightly.

Do you have a preference whether your products are merchandised in produce departments or with snacks?

Yes. We are a produce-centric brand. Plant-protein snacks belong in produce and, candidly, this is a huge opportunity for the produce department. Plant protein was proclaimed one of the hottest tech trends by Google leader Eric Schmidt. Proteins are merchandised in the perimeter of the store. Millennials shop in the produce section and have the highest level of interest in plant proteins. It all points to produce as the place where these types of snacks should be merchandised. We have other product lines in development that may include “fresh” components.

What are pulses, anyway? And what do consumers need to know about them?

Pulses are the edible seeds of leguminous plants. Commonly known pulses are beans, peas and lentils, but there are so many pulses virtually unknown in the West. They are an amazing source of plant protein and fiber and other key nutrients like iron, zinc and folates. Pulses are a primary source of protein in some countries like India. Peatos are a crunchy, puffed snack made with a combination of pulses—beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils—that contains 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving.

You’ve made no secret of the mainstream CPG competitor consumers should compare Peatos to, and appear to be replicating the taste, texture and appearance of. Have you heard anything from the Cheetah?

We have a great admiration for the Cheetah. Used to be one of my favorite snacks when I was younger. But like the T. rex, the corny Cheetah failed to evolve and adapt, and therefore may face extinction.

Lightning Round

What unhealthy habits have you yet to break?

McDonald’s French fries. Eating late at night.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve gotten?

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Who does the food shopping for your family?

My wife, at Costco, Walmart, Ralphs and Trader Joe’s.

Outside of your own brands, what “healthy takes” on traditional products do you admire?

Beyond Meat burgers, Love Grown Foods cereals.

World Peas Peatos™ Names 2018 Best Bite Award Winner For Best Salty Snack by Delicious Living Magazine

World Peas Peatos™ Names 2018 Best Bite Award Winner For Best Salty Snack by Delicious Living Magazine 273 273 petervg

By Jenna Blumenfeld

Best Salty Snack: World Peas Peatos Classic Cheese

Even in the sea of salty snacks laid out in front of us, taste testers couldn’t stop noshing these thin, crunchy sticks made with … wait for it … pulses, such as peas, fava beans and lentils, instead of corn. A thin, flavorful dusting of onion- and garlic-infused cheese powder adds addictive taste; a blend of paprika and turmeric delivers that all-important stain-your-fingers orange effect

Top Five Trends Spotted at Sweets & Snacks Expo 2018

Top Five Trends Spotted at Sweets & Snacks Expo 2018 1000 1000 petervg

Some candy and snack manufacturers are promising to bring consumers clean, simple and better-tasting alternatives to national brands that they say offer products made with added sugars, unnecessary dyes, and unhealthy methods of processing.

World Pea Peatos is just one example of a brand seeking to revolutionize the way people view salty “junk food” snacks, according to the company.

Peatos Crunchy Pulse Snacks use innovative production techniques and pulses — made from nutrient-packed, dry, edible seeds of beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas — to bring full flavor and nutrition to its snacks. Touted as the “healthier version of Cheetos,” Peatos Classic Cheese flavored snacks contain 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, are made without synthetic colors and artificial flavors, and are non-GMO. Four varieties are available: Classic Cheese, Fiery Hot, Chili Cheese and Masala.

In meat snacks, there’s a new contender in Stryve Foods LLC’s Biltong brand, whose offerings include slow-baked bites, sticks and Biltong (sliced beef strips). Targeting consumers who incorporate fitness into their lifestyles, Biltong is gluten-free, all-natural and made without additives, MSG or nitrates. One bag of Biltong contains as much as 36 grams of protein, Paige Brown, director of marketing for Stryve, told CSNews.

11 High Protein-Snacks to Help You Avoid the Dreaded Afternoon Slump

11 High Protein-Snacks to Help You Avoid the Dreaded Afternoon Slump 739 739 petervg

JUN 21, 2018

Protein = good. Tasty, low-carb snacks = very good.

World Peas Peatos 4 Piece Variety Pack, Pea and Lentil Based Protein and Fiber, Crunchy Snack Food, Non-GMO No Added MSG, Gluten-Free

World Peas amazon.com $14.99


Made from peas and lentils, Peatos are intended to satisfy all of your crunchy snack cravings. “Peatos have a decent amount of protein and over 10% of daily fiber value,” said Houston.