According to SNAC, the calibre of finalists in this year’s ‘pitch’ competition bowled over the judges with their disruptive ideas and solid brand pitches.
Candid was awarded the $10,000 grand prize for its better-for-people-and-planet cocoa bites, which are made from the whole cacao pod (both seeds and fruit). This method makes Candid the first company to use cacao fruit as a sweetener.
The startup sources its cacao from independent family farms in Costa Rica and Peru and pays premium prices for the award-winning Trinitario cacao. Believing that sustainable food systems and community are symbiotic, it also works closely with around 1,000 farmers in Latin America to promote the use of regenerative agroforestry technique to ‘create a diversified forest garden that helps regenerate soil, improve ecosystems and sequester carbon’.
Topping that, Candid’s snacks are packed in recyclable and compostable packaging to keep its environmental impact as low as possible.
“Winning SNAC Tank was incredible validation,” said Candid founder and CEO Chris Kajander.
“I started Candid as COVID hit, so I haven't had much of an opportunity to participate in industry events, trade shows and pitch competitions.
“It felt amazing to receive positive feedback from such an all-star panel of judges. The ten grand really helps, too."
Pulp Pantry – which created veggie chips from upcycled, fresh vegetable juice pulp – nabbed the Audience Choice Award, following a live vote by the SNAC Tank spectators. CEO and founder Kaitlin Mongentale also received an unexpected $5,000 pledge from head judge Rohan Oza, who was really impressed by Pulp Pantry’s story.
Oza is founder and managing partner of CAVU Venture Partners and a popular Guest Shark on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’. He led SNAC Tank’s panel of judges, which included Cindy Kuester, VP of Sales for Snak King; Johnny Tran, senior business development manager of 301 Inc. the venture capital arm of General Mills; Hector De La Barreda, president of Amplify Snack Brands and EVP of New Ventures for Hershey; and Kristy Lewis, founder and chief visionary officer for Quinn Foods.
“Showcasing some of the most innovative start-ups in our category is an SNX highlight,” said Christine Cochran, president and CEO of SNAC International.
“Entrepreneurs like these are what continue to drive the ever-evolving snack industry and what makes this part of SNX so exciting.
“I want to congratulate both of our winners and look forward to seeing a new collection of innovative ideas for the next SNAC Tank.”
The three other finalists of this year’s SNAC Tank included Eat The Change’s Cosmic Carrot Chews, a kid-friendly carrot snack sweetened with fruit juice; Daily Crunch Snacks, a line of sprouted almonds and trail mixes; and Awakened Foods, creators of Ka-Pop!, a sorghum-based vegan and gluten-free snack.