A walk on the wild side

by Lucy Sutton
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When most people hear about a rice snack, they imagine a chewy, tasteless snack with little to no nutritional value. Not so with Riceworks crisps from Shearer’s Foods, Brewster, OH, which provide the nutrition of whole grains and the crunch of a chip in a variety of zesty flavors.

All-natural and gluten-free, the crisps provide 7 g whole grains per serving from brown rice. “It doesn’t taste like that normal tortilla chip because it’s the combination of tortilla ingredients and rice that provides the whole grain attributes in the product,” said Jeff Binczyk, vice-president, marketing and shopper insights, Shearer’s Foods.

The company’s latest addition to the lineup, Wild Riceworks Sea Salt and Black Sesame takes the next step by adding wild rice to the ingredients list, boosting whole grain content to 12 g per serving. While the original Riceworks emulated the shape and texture of tortilla chips, Wild Riceworks is closer to a cracker.

Riceworks was born from in-depth consumer research that delved into the minds of snackers — mostly 25-to-49-year-old females — who were looking for something that tasted good but wasn’t too indulgent. “There aren’t enough great-tasting healthy snacks,” Mr. Binczyk said. “They’re either great-tasting and too indulgent or they’re not very good-tasting but they’re healthy. We found this battle between good and evil is something that women struggle with every day.”

Shearer’s latched onto this idea of good vs. evil and created a “Confess Your Snacking Sins” app on Facebook. Using the app, apps.facebook.com/snackingsins, Facebook users can share their confessions via webcam or text.

“If you can get your consumer to spend a little bit of time and interact with your brand, that’s gold,” Mr. Binczyk said. “If they’re spending 45 seconds or a minute confessing their snacking sins, that’s incredible involvement in your brand, and they should be rewarded.” That reward is a coupon for $1 off their next purchase of Riceworks.

Of course, a portion of Riceworks’ consumer base is loyal to the brand for medical reasons rather than simply trying to snack healthier. The celiac community has been instrumental to the brand’s success because of the snacks’ gluten-free status and unusual flavors. “Right now there’s a movement to glamorize the gluten-free diet and not have it feel like a sentence, and Riceworks helps in that regard,” Mr. Binczyk said.

Riceworks are available nationwide in 5.5-oz packages for $2.99. Mr. Binczyk’s hopes for the brand are simple: “World domination,” he said with a laugh. “From our research, we know that there are some gaps that we can fill and make our consumers happy based on what they tell us what they’re looking for.” If that sounds like pride, perhaps Mr. Binczyk should go to the Riceworks app and confess his sin.           

 

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