Snack producers say they have found success in a variety of ways. Herr’s maintains not only a dedication to tradition, community and sustainability but also through steady expansion and progress.

“We pretty much stick to what we do and try to do it really well,” said Ed Herr, chairman and chief executive officer of Herr Foods Inc., Nottingham, Pa. “We’re really proud of our culture and our people. Our slogan this year is ‘It’s our people.’ We believe it’s not just our Herr family, it’s the Herr Foods family, and we all work together to build a strong reputation in the industry. We believe in our mission to safely provide the best products and service to our customers.”

Community is a theme that snack makers touted as vital. That comes in the form of company culture as well as reaching out to customers by establishing personal connections.

“You build digital brands by building a community,” said Joe Ens, CEO of HighKey, Orlando, Fla., which started by selling no-sugar cookies online before jumping to retail. “We invested heavily in digital, social and influencers to build a foundation, a consumer community that stays with us still. As soon as we hit a retailer shelf, we’ve already got a built-in loyalty.”

E-commerce and direct-to-consumer websites help startups connect with consumers by creating unique brand experiences, said Stacey Benham, vice president marketing, Quinn Snacks, Boulder, Colo., which sells all-natural snacks.

“This channel also makes it possible for more personalized conversations with loyal consumers to really understand what they love about your product and your brand so you can deliver an exceptional experience,” she said.

Connecting online with consumers is good business as 62% of people enjoy food content on social media, according to the Third Annual “State of Snacking” report from Mondelez International. That number jumps to 82% among Generation Z consumers.

Mr. Ens credits part of HighKey’s success to a growth mindset. That includes seeing failure as progress.

“What e-commerce has enabled for a company like us that has a growth mindset is you can just go for stuff,” he said. “And as long as it’s in the brand parameters, you can lean in and fail faster and cheaper than using traditional approaches.”

Obviously, a company must also be creative, have strong leaders with drive and a product worth selling. And as Barry Levin, CEO of Snak King Corp., City of Industry, Calif., said, “I don’t know if you can replace hard work with anything.”

This article is an excerpt from the April 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Centennial Report: The Future of Snacking, click here.