LOS ANGELES — PeaTos, a brand of snacks formulated with peas, is now entirely plant-based. Parent company Snack It Forward plans to unveil the reformulated line at Natural Products Expo West, taking place March 8-12 in Anaheim, Calif.
Developed to disrupt the “$29 billion junk snack market” dominated by PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay, PeaTos over the past three years has introduced a range of snacks inspired by Cheetos, Funyuns and Doritos, using peas and lentils in place of corn to deliver more protein and fiber with less fat and fewer calories. The products, marketed as “junk food without the junk,” are sold in more than 4,700 retail stores nationwide, including Kroger, Safeway, Albertsons, 7-Eleven and Costco.
Previously, most PeaTos snacks contained dairy ingredients, with the exception of its Fiery Hot Crunchy Curls, which gained a “cult-like following” among vegan consumers, said Nick Desai, founder and chief executive officer.
“Vegans loved it so much that they begged us to make all our flavors 100% plant-based — and we heard them, loud and clear,” Mr. Desai said. “Most vegan snacks taste like cardboard, but PeaTos put the brightest minds in snacking to work, and we nailed it.”
The brand’s new, now non-dairy, offerings include Crunchy Onion Rings, Crunchy Cheese Curls, Fiery Hot Crunchy Curls and new Crunchy Pizza Rings. The relaunched line is slated to appear on shelves beginning in March, with updated packaging adorned with new “sassy female mascot DJ_P,” Mr. Desai said.
“Giving our consumers what they asked and being able to accomplish a 100% plant-based snack with no sacrifice on flavor is a game changer for PeaTos,” Mr. Desai said. “Frito-Lay’s offerings, including Cheetos and Funyuns, contain dairy along with artificial additives and ingredients. PeaTos has upgraded these classic American snacks and delivers on the promise of a true yellow cheddar cheese finger-licking flavor that tastes better than Cheetos and is dairy-free.”
Last year, PeaTos closed a Series B funding round led by Post Holdings, Inc. Other prominent investors in the brand include Carlos Barroso, former head of global research and development for PepsiCo; Carl Lee, former leader of Snyder’s-Lance; and Apu Mody, past president of Mars Food.