CHICAGO — Four emerging brands showcased their products during a series of Power Pitch sessions at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 23-26 in Chicago.
Leaders from The Gummy Project and The Functional Chocolate Co. pitched their confectionery products to a panel of retailers and show attendees during the event, which featured a dedicated “Startup Street” for newcomers.
The Gummy Project aims to support conservation efforts with its plant-based gummies. Shaped like endangered species, the certified vegan candies are low in sugar and free from gluten and trans-fat. Each bag purchased supports conservation partners working to protect threatened animals.
Anthony Gindin, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Vancouver-based Gummy Project, presented the startup’s watermelon sharks at the Power Pitch event. A portion of sales from the shark-shaped candy are donated to a non-profit organization that researches the apex aquatic predators, which are critical to maintaining structure in healthy ocean ecosystems.
The Gummy Project focuses on keystone endangered species, or those species “that are so important to their ecosystems that their removal would affect countless other life forms and threaten the surface of our planet as we know it,” Mr. Gindin said.
He was joined by Chris Peruzzi, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Functional Chocolate Co., a Chicago-based maker of vegan and gluten-free dark chocolate. The company pairs its chocolate with vitamins, minerals, botanicals and amino acids to support a variety of everyday health concerns, from sleep and stress to focus and energy.
Products from the Functional Chocolate Co. highlighted at Sweets & Snacks include brainy chocolate for productivity and focus, carefree chocolate for stress and anxiety, hot chocolate for menopause, sexy chocolate for libido and more.
“Being selected to share our story and products was truly an honor,” Mr. Peruzzi said. “Power Pitch was an incredible opportunity to introduce Functional Chocolate to leading retail decision makers.”
Also featured in the Power Pitch series were snack startups The Only Bean and Brooklyn Healthy LLC.
Kristine Yang, founder of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Only Bean, showcased the company’s crunchy roasted edamame beans. Available in sea salt, Buffalo and sriracha varieties, the snacks boast 13 grams of plant-based protein per serving. They are low-carb and keto-friendly, containing just 3 grams of net carbs.
“Beans are always our first ingredient,” Ms. Yang said, adding that the snacks contain “more protein, more fiber and fewer carbs” than conventional bean snacks and nut products.
Israel Engel, founder and chief executive officer of Brooklyn Healthy, pitched chickpea crisps sold under the Hey, Hooplah! brand. The snack is low in sodium and fat, with each serving containing 6 to 7 grams of protein.Available in jalapeño, blue cheese, bacon and pink salt varieties, the chickpea crisps feature bold flavors to satisfy cravings while still packing a nutritious punch, Mr. Engel said.