Though the product profiles featured in The Sunflower often highlight companies that are new to the sunflower scene, it’s also fitting to focus on the ones that are considered pioneers in their field and continue to utilize sunflower to sustain the success of their products.
Kettle Brand is one company for which sunflower oil has been a part of this equation for success for more than 30 years.
The Oregon-based company prides itself on transforming the way people think about potato chips. Amongst a consumer movement toward more healthy food choices and food ingredient awareness, Kettle Brand stands out as raising the standards for the potato chip snack category. They attribute much of their success to the use of high-oleic sunflower oil along with other natural, non-GMO ingredients. Consumers can rest assured they are eating all-natural ingredients without trans-fats, artificial flavors or preservatives. Not many potato chips makers will be so bold, but Kettle Brand is also the first and only Non-GMO Project verified potato chip on the market. The first flavors to feature the Non-GMO Project verification prominently on front-of packaging will appear on store shelves this month.
The company celebrated its 30th birthday this past year and continues to carry on the tradition of offering only natural products since they made their first batch of chips in 1982. Through the years, they have maintained their commitment to sustainable business practices. In March of 2010, Kettle Brand joined the Diamond Foods family of snack brands.
Marc McCullagh, brand manager for Kettle Brand, recently offered insight into the company’s “all-natural” philosophy.
— Sonia Mullally
Clearly, potato chips are a favorite snack of millions of people all over the U.S. How are Kettle Brand chips different from other potato chips on the market?
Kettle Brand is a pioneer and one of the leaders in the premium kettle-cooked category, producing six premium product lines: Original, Krinkle Cut™, Organic, 40 Percent Reduced Fat and Bakes™ potato chips, as well as TIAS!™ tortilla chips. Committed to making every product with all-natural ingredients and without trans-fats, artificial flavors or preservatives, we’re passionate about making the best tasting, all-natural chips in the world. Real, all-natural ingredients create our delicious, innovative flavors; and for over 30 years we’ve been focused on providing great taste, naturally.
What attributes make Kettle Brand Chips stand out in a crowded potato chip marketplace?
Kettle Brand is the real kettle chip. We’re known for delivering the most exciting and innovative flavors in the snack aisle — made from real ingredients, by real people. Our potato chips taste so good because they’re made with all-natural ingredients, the finest potatoes and delicious blends of natural seasonings to create bold flavors consumers love.
Sunflower oil is listed on your ingredient panel. Why sunflower oil?
Kettle Brand has used sunflower oil since we made our first batch of chips in 1982. While we list multiple oils on our packaging, we do not blend, but sometimes switch between oils based on availability.
Sunflower oil is light in taste and appearance, so it doesn’t compromise the bold flavor profiles of our chips. We use high-monounsaturated oils because they have a favorable fatty acid profile that leads to stability when frying and allows us a longer shelf life.
Why non-GMO ingredients? Why is this an important component of the company’s philosophy?
Kettle Brand has used natural, Non-GMO ingredients since our founding. Our Natural Promise is a commitment to all natural, Non-GMO ingredients that consumers can pronounce and recognize. Recognizing that a growing number of consumers are concerned with what goes into the foods they eat, Kettle Brand has invested in ensuring Non-GMO ingredients and verification so our consumers can continue to trust the integrity of our products.
Can you explain the process of seeking out a third-party entity and what steps led to the verification by the Non-GMO Project?
Kettle Brand has been working with the Non-GMO Project since 2009 to gain verification for our products. A large part of this process involved coordinating with our suppliers to provide the Non-GMO Project with the documentation required to verify that the ingredients we use are Non-GMO.
We started selling the market’s first and only Non-GMO Project Verified potato chip earlier this year, and by 2013 many of our fan-favorite flavors, like Jalapeño, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Spicy Thai and Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper, will have the Non-GMO label featured on front of our packages. We are working diligently to achieve verification on all of our products.
The company recently celebrated 30 years of making Kettle Brand chips. Can you explain how the company marked this occasion?
In celebration of Kettle Brand’s 30th Birthday this year, we released a limited-edition collection of our four favorite flavors in July: Red Chili, Jalapeño Jack, Salsa with Mesquite and Cheddar Beer. The 30th Birthday collection is available online and at select retailers through next summer.
The company is considered one of the pioneers and leaders in the kettle-cooked category? What have been some of the challenges along the way?
From the first batch of chips we made in 1982, a single philosophy has guided Kettle Brand: use only the freshest, all-natural ingredients to create intensely flavored, wonderfully craveable potato chips you can feel good about eating. For our fans and consumers, that means the most exciting flavors in the snack aisle made from all-natural ingredients. We use only the finest real potatoes and delicious blends of all-natural seasonings — real cheddar cheese, real chilies and peppers, real limes and other natural ingredients — to create bold flavors consumers love.
It’s always a challenge to find the balance between piquing consumers’ interest in exploring new flavors, and reaching a wide audience with our products. Since day one, Kettle Brand has always been about flavor innovation; but we always have to keep the consumer in mind when we consider new products and flavors. We want to make sure not to isolate our consumer with flavors that are too far out of the box.
One of your recent press releases states something to the effect of “rapid growth over the past 10 years.” Can you explain what this might be attributed to?
The snack category is all about flavor. At Kettle Brand, we’ve introduced more than 40 flavors in three decades, and we’re always researching, testing and tasting for our next flavor. We’ve often been ahead of our time and are just now starting to see trends in spicy as well as ethnic and exotic, something we’ve had in our flavor line for years now.
Premium ingredients are essential to achieve outstanding flavor, which is why we use all natural, non-GMO ingredients with no artificial flavorings, no preservatives and no MSG; our consumers can taste the difference.
What’s on the horizon for your company? New products? New marketing strategies? New/current promotions?
Kettle Brand just launched a new advertising campaign called “The Real Kettle Chips,” which highlights our longstanding commitment to chips’ authenticity and flavor innovation. We also just relaunched our Kettle Brand Bakes line this fall in new bold and colorful packaging with five flavors: Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Hickory Honey Barbeque, Sour Cream & Onion and Cheddar & Roasted Tomato.
We also have plans to introduce our next big flavor this summer — and there are always new flavors in the pipeline.
For more information on Kettle Brand products, go to their website at kettlebrand.coma>.
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