Wessanen’s Whole Earth sees protein snack going mainstream

Classic Whole Earth Power Balls

Wessanen’s Whole Earth brand is extending its sports nutrition snack, Power Balls, beyond health channels and onto supermarket shelves as health-focused consumers become more “mainstream”.

The UK peanut butter brand, which is owned by European organic and natural food group Wessanen, launched its first sports nutrition snack in March this year.

To date, the focus has been on securing distribution in health channels and independent retailers. Whole Earth has concentrated on increasing awareness among a “highly targeted audience of health and fitness enthusiasts” through sampling at sporting events such as the British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup.

But all this is set to change now that Wessanen has secured its first supermarket listing for Whole Earth Power Balls in Sainsbury’s.

Supermarket sweep

Sainsbury’s will stock classic and seeded varieties of the Whole Earth Power Ball from the end of this month. “We’re delighted to have secured our first supermarket listing in Sainsbury’s. It’s a great first step for us in the grocery channel as we look to grow our distribution in this space,” Kirstie Hawkins, Whole Earth brand controller at Wessanen UK, said.

Hawkins believes that there is significant scope for Whole Earth to extend its reach in the conventional supermarket channel because the Power Balls meet growing – and increasingly mainstream - consumer demand for nutritious food options.

“More consumers are paying greater attention to the nutritional benefits of the foods they consume and the impact it can have on their lifestyles. This increased focus on health and well-being and demand for healthier food means that foods that are better for us have naturally become more mainstream,” she told Food Navigator.

Whole Earth Power Balls are a “natural protein snack based around our leading peanut butter”, Hawkins explained. Each Power Ball pack contains “simple, natural ingredients” including peanut butter, gluten-free oats, roasted peanuts and dried fruit. The products are free from artificial additives, flavours or preservatives.

This all-natural positioning means that the Power Balls are well-placed to tap into growing ‘clean label’ trends. But, Hawkins said, the primary growth driver is rising demand for healthy snacking.

“The natural nutritional benefits of the Power Balls, coupled with a convenient pack format and bite-size pieces, makes them perfect for fitness enthusiasts looking for a quick energy boost,” she suggested.

Further brand extensions

Growing awareness of nutritional issues has also proven a boon for Whole Earth’s core peanut butter offering, Hawkins continued.

“There is no doubt that there is a growing number of consumers looking for nutritious foods to support their active lifestyles. This trend has helped us become the UK’s market-leading peanut butter brand and maintain continued growth. Whole Earth’s value sales have grown by 26% year-on-year. The peanut butter category is generally experiencing some fantastic growth with many recognising it for its nutritional value.”

The target consumer for Whole Earth’s peanut butter and sports snack is one and the same. “Our target consumers are those who looks after themselves, eat well and enjoy an active lifestyle, which applies to both our nut butter spreads and our Power Balls snack…. Peanut butter is a natural source of protein so perfect for fuelling active lifestyles – either in Power Ball snack format, spread on toast or as an ingredient for many sweet or savoury dishes.”

This means that there are ample opportunities to further expand the brand with new peanut butter-based products.

In particular, Wessanen is focused on extending Whole Earth further into out of home consumption occasions, Hawkins revealed. “We know that active consumers often eat on the move, so it makes sense to us to expand our portfolio to cover eating occasions out of the home, in addition to our kitchen cupboard staples. It’s certainly an area of interest for the brand, which we hope to tap into with future NPD.”

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