One of Chicago-based Jimmy! Functional Snacks’ strengths is its ability to pivot, innovate and evolve quickly, which is a benefit of having a lean team headed by two classically trained chefs.

“The sales team always call Felipo and me their secret weapon because they have two foodies on staff,” explained Annette Del Prete, president of Nettie’s Kitchen about her and her husband Felipo’s culinary backgrounds. “You have two people who love to create, so when they say the Cookies ’N Cream bar is selling like crazy and we need three new SKUs, we can jump in that day and start creating.” 

Product development is highly collaborative. Some bars such as the keto-friendly line are developed to take advantage of trends. In the spirit of its Bars with Benefits mission, many products are developed to meet a need.

Sometimes a customer requests a specific flavor or a line extension in general. Even simpler still, the benefit of having two foodies heading up R&D sometimes means ideas simply come from their life experiences and preferences.

The ideas are brought to the team, and they provide feedback and workshop the concept until it’s finalized. Family members serve as test subjects to get flavors right. When the company was developing its Jimmy the Kid line for kid-friendly bars, prototypes were sent home for employees’ kids to try. 

“It’s very collaborative,” Ms. Del Prete said. “Everyone is super honest. No one’s feelings will get hurt when we do R&D.”

The product development team can have a working prototype ready in as quickly as a week if all the ingredients are readily available. 

The team isn’t precious about anything, however, and is willing to reinvent itself when necessary. Varieties that aren’t performing well are cut quickly and replaced with new ideas or line extensions of products that are doing well. It’s the company’s strategy to remain relevant in an ever-changing category.

This article is an excerpt from the December 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Jimmy! Functional Snacks, click here.