With expected growth rates between 10 and 15% per year (for the period 2020 to 2025), the vegan ice cream segment is no longer niche and its consumption is spreading across the world fueling strong sales growth, with many innovations and product launches focusing on plant-based ice cream alternatives.
If you compare the vegan ice cream growth with the 4 to 5% CAGR expected for dairy ice cream worldwide during the same period, no wonder that all major companies, even dairy, are looking at this market with envy. There is no longer a major ice cream company without its own plant-based or dairy-free range. Can smaller players still have a place in the market and be relevant for consumers and customers alike?
Today, let’s talk about SNÖ, a fast-growing Canadian-owned company whose aim is to make vegan ice cream inclusive, whatever your diet requirements or nutritional limitations.
SNÖ: An inclusive vegan brand
The SNÖ brand came to life in 2018 when their CEO, Michael Cantin, spotted a gap in the ice cream category for a Canadian-owned, vegan ice-cream which would also be allergen-free so as to be more inclusive for all end-users. The goal was to make a product that was everything-free while maintaining a taste and texture as similar as possible to the original.
“Our end-goal is always to create products that are inclusive to the large-majority, if not all, consumers.” – Michael Cantin, President of SNÖ.
The goal of creating a circular economy and a brand with a more sustainable and better-for-the-planet outlook were some of the original motivations driving product development ideas at SNÖ. When creating new products and working with new suppliers, the team makes sure to examine elements like if the ingredients are locally sourced, do they contain palm oil, are they non-GMO, etc.
A strong focus on Innovation
Innovation is also a primary focus when it comes to new product development because it allows them to remain agile enough to compete with the bigger players in the market.
Initially only available in a pint format, SNÖ successfully extended its range by launching ice cream sandwiches in 2020 and will also add a few plant-based ice cream bars to their portfolio in 2021. In 2 years, SNÖ will have launched more than 8 products in the Canadian market, despite a strong competition in Canada from UNILEVER, NESTLE and SO DELICIOUS all launching new plant-based products.
Currently, there are eight permanent SKU’s in the SNÖ portfolio (five pints and three sandwich formats) and they are continuously looking to add in limited edition offerings throughout the year such as Gingerbread for the Holiday season.
Their target market is in line with the typical ice-cream consumer (e.g., female, 25-45), however given their range’s unique attributes in being allergen-friendly, the brand also attracts consumers outside that segment who may suffer from allergies or intolerances themselves, or have family members or friends who do so and want to purchase a treat that is inclusive to all of them and avoid making separate purchases.
When developing products, Michael’s perspective is to always try to look at how to do things differently with regards to the taste, texture, or formats while focusing on flavours that consumers will love, and adding a twist to make them exciting.
“A strong focus on innovation is what allows us to stay ahead of competitors, especially the frozen dessert giants.”
Their current range of Aquafaba Sandwiches came as a result of their innovation process. The sandwich is a format which has typically seen very little innovation and due to this, their sandwiches have caught the attention of a lot of buyers. At the moment, there is no one else in the Canadian market producing high-taste, vegan, and gluten-free sandwich formats.
Speaking about unique selling points in other areas of their innovation and NPD processes, Michael Cantin explained that they also “understand the difficulty that consumers face when it comes to reading nutritional labels, especially those who suffer from intolerances or allergies, so we have made our packaging reflect this in an easy-to-read way.”
Great opportunities ahead
With a few partnerships pending for 2021, the future seems bright for the SNÖ team who are very excited about the new inclusions planned for the year ahead.
Initially, they will be focusing on expanding their presence and solidifying their base within the Canadian market before moving into 2022 where they will see more of an effort placed on export markets such as the US and other countries where demand for their type of product is high.
“We have ready-to-go products available which have been tried and tested and successful in the Canadian markets and would be very open to conversations from international brands.”
The benefit is that because they are working with a very stable recipe with a long shelf-life (approximately 2 years), they can be flexible and agile when it comes to working with international partners and their needs.
With the support of the INNODELICE network
The team at SNÖ have expressed their interest in building relationships specifically with partners (suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors) who have values that are in line with theirs with regards to the importance of innovation, a circular economy mindset and food accessibility and inclusivity as previously mentioned.
In line with their strategic plans, they are interested in:
Finding partners to export out of Canada. In preparation for this, SNÖ products are manufactured in SQF certified facilities, ensuring full traceability and both allergen and quality control. They are also working on obtaining B Corp and Non-GMO certifications. Their current production set up allows for sufficient capacity to cater for growth in both domestic and export markets.
Finding innovative and reliable suppliers inside and outside Canada. It is important for them to collaborate with partners who are fully aware of the cross-contamination challenges involved in working with a company that avoids the use of certain ingredients that may cause allergic reactions or intolerances. Purchasing from local suppliers is the norm. However, given the difficulty to source specific ingredients or inclusions, SNÖ is also keeping an open-mind to the opportunity of working with other sources across the world, like with their new Nut Butter SKU, which will require them to source sunflower butter from the US.
How to start collaborating with SNÖ?
To learn more about the SNÖ Brand and how to work with them in 2021 and beyond, have a look at their products on INNODELICE's BRANDS platform and reach out. We will happily put you in touch with their team and make introductions!
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Founded by former executives in the Ice Cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors and suppliers can discover, buy and sell solutions to GROW their business. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products as well as innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimising their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Nicolas MARIE (firstname.lastname@example.org), Andrea MONTREUIL (email@example.com) or visit www.innodelice.com.