The Little Kernel adds s’mores flavor after experiencing ‘crazy ride’ with growth

Despite being launched less than a year ago, The Little Kernel is making its mark in the US popcorn category. Pic: The Little Kernel

Popcorn startup, The Little Kernel, will unveil its new s’mores flavor during the upcoming Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago.

“S’more is right on trend with consumer demand. Even Starbucks has recently launched a s’more Frappuccino,” the company’s cofounders, Chris Laurita and Andy Epstein, told BakeryandSnacks.

"Our company is dedicated in providing our consumers with better ingredients,” Laurita said. “Our popcorn is gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, kosher and certified whole grain.”

The brand makes hull-less popcorn that is half the size of traditional popcorn. It also only uses olive oil to pop the kernals, and does this in small batches.

The s'mores product will retail between $3.49 and $3.99 for a four-ounce bag. 

Crazy ride

Even though The Little Kernel was launched less than a year ago, the growth has been a “crazy ride” for the company, contended Epstein.

“We are off to a great start with strong, national distribution, including retailers like Giant, ShopRite, Sprouts, Aceme and Central Markets,” he said, but "we are always looking to increase distribution, to ensure consumers have access to The Little Kernel, no matter their location.”

According to Laurita, the brand is gaining popularity because of maintaining different levels of engagement wiuth consumers.

“We have a very strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This, combined with our constant promotional activity at store level, [keeps us in the news],” he said.

The advantages of size

During an interview with this site’s sister publication Food Navigator-USA, Epstein said one of the biggest drawbacks of popcorn is the hull can often become stuck in the back of a consumer's throat or teeth. Smaller kernels overcome such a challenge.

Iowa-based Tiny but Might also said another advantages of smaller kernels is that farmers are able to produce 10,000 kernels per pound versus 5,000 regular ones.

The popcorn category is undeniably crowded at this point, Epstein continued, and there is only so much room on the shelf, said Epstein.

“From our experience, brands need to be innovative and unrelenting to grow in this business,” he said.

“Looking ahead in 2017, our priority is to listen to our consumers. By paying attention to their comments, we will continue to improve the product and packaging."

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