Food Entrepreneur - September 15, 2020 - 12

BEST IN SHOW WINNER:

Mavericks

MAVERICKS SNACKS

This past spring, a team of industry
veterans launched Mavericks, a brand of
lunchbox-ready cookies and crackers for
children. And then the pandemic shuttered schools across the United States.
"Looking back, had we known we
were launching a healthy kids snack
brand and school lunches and after-school
sports weren't going to happen because of

innovation in the millennial and young
adult space, but there really hasn't been
much for the kindergartener through
middle school age," Mr. Quie said.
The brand's crackers have 8 grams of
whole grains per serving and are available
in original, cheddar and pizza varieties.
The cookies contain 40% less sugar than
the category leader, with flavors including

colors and preservatives, and school-safe,
meeting the US Department of Agriculture's "smart snacks" requirements.
The cookies and crackers are shaped
like lightning bolts to encourage play. The
box contains eight single-serve pouches
and features an interactive game inside.
"In our consumer insights group
with kids, they would spend the first five
minutes playing with the shapes and
making designs before eating it," Mr.
Quie said. "We also had learnings from
adults who had nostalgia around the cereal box and playing and engaging with it."
All six products debuted in Whole
Foods Markets nationwide in April and on
Amazon.com in May. Now, the company is
partnering with social media influencers
and launching a back-to-school promotion to drive awareness of the brand and
products.
"Sixty-six percent of students right
now in the US are remote learning," Mr.
Quie said. "That is a hurdle we are trying to
navigate, but it is what it is, and we're committed to the brand, and we've got some

'Sixty-six percent of students
right now in the US are remote
learning. That is a hurdle we are
trying to navigate.'

COVID, we probably would have rethought
the launch process," said Christian Quie,
president and general manager.
Mavericks is a business of Green Park
Brands, the parent company of Hippeas,
Ugly Drinks and Reel Paper, founded
by Livio Bisterzo. Mr. Quie, a veteran of
General Mills who more recently led the US
launch of a fruit snacks brand, relocated his
family from North Carolina to Los Angeles
last year to develop and launch Mavericks
following discussions with Mr. Bisterzo and
recognizing the market opportunity.
"There is a tremendous amount of
innovation in the baby/toddler space,
and we are all aware there is so much
12

Food Business News

chocolate chip, double chocolate and
birthday cake. The company uses chicory
root fiber to add sweetness while reducing sugar in the formulation.
"One of the insightful pieces of
feedback we learned through listening to
consumers is there has been a lot of focus
and awareness for monk fruit and erythritol as sweeteners," Mr. Quie said. "Parents
are willing to try that themselves but are
apprehensive about giving that to their
kids, so we wanted to make sure we could
find a sweetener that was mainstream
and approachable for kids."
The snacks are Non-GMO Project
verified, peanut-free, free of artificial

MAVERICKS SNACKS

- Christian Quie,
Mavericks Snacks

huge momentum right now behind it."
In the long term, Mavericks is positioned as a platform brand that may expand to multiple product categories, but
the team remains disciplined in building
awareness and driving repeat sales of its
core products. A challenge is communicating effectively to two consumer groups
- the child who will eat the product and
the adult who will buy it.
"We want to make sure we are
authentic to the kids, and they see us on
shelf and recognize us ... and mom or
dad picks it up and says, 'This checks the
box,'" Mr. Quie said. "The goal is to make
sure we're staying kid-first." ▪
September 15, 2020



Food Entrepreneur - September 15, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - September 15, 2020

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