NEW YORK – The Hain Celestial Group is gaining momentum in the snack segment. Sensible Portions, the company’s largest brand, has grown household penetration 23% versus a year ago and 70% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the company. But management sees even greater growth in new demographics and geographies.

“None of these brands are ubiquitous,” said Mark L. Schiller, president and chief executive officer, during a May 23 presentation at the Cowen Future of the Consumer: Sustainable Growth for a New Ecosystem Conference. “Even our biggest brand, which is our Sensible Portions Veggie Straws.

“When you think about all the places where people consume snacks or buy snacks — convenience and gas, sandwich shops, etc., we’re not in any of those places. So, there's huge distribution potential despite the fact that brand has grown 70% over the last two years.”

Efforts to achieve growth include innovation to attract more men to the Sensible Portions Veggie Straws brand. Mr. Schiller said the company noticed other snack makers offering hotter, spicier versions of their snack to attract the demographic and Hain Celestial followed them.

“We launched it,” he said. “(It) did about $20 million in the first year, highly incremental to the category, highly incremental to the brand.”

Another new market for snacks is young children.

“We started looking at the platform that we had, which were these light snacks, low in calories, melts in your mouth, and we said, ‘we've got a baby food business, why can’t we do snacks for infants and toddlers,’” Mr. Schiller said. “So, we took the same platform with (a) different seasoning, launched it for a much younger audience — smaller bags, much higher price per ounce, much higher margins — and that was a big part of the turnaround on the Earth's Best business.”

The company later expanded the innovation to its baby food business in Europe.

Once the innovation is in place, Mr. Schiller said another imperative is marketing.

“We do need to invest more in these brands because there is relatively low awareness and relatively low household penetration,” he said. “Job one is to get them on the shelf and make them available, but job two is to make sure once they’re there, they get noticed.”

One market the company does not have any current plans to enter is the US meat alternative category. Hain Celestial has two brands — Yves in Canada and Linda McCartney in the United Kingdom.

“The reason we’re not in plant-based here in the US (is) it’s a very crowded space,” Mr. Schiller said. “We have the No. 1 chilled brand in Canada called Yves. It does very well. We’ve looked at coming to the United States, but there are so many brands in such a crowded space, and we have so much opportunity on the things we already sell here that we deprioritized that in the short term.”