Food Entrepreneur NEW YORK — Banza, the maker of comfort foods formulated with chickpea flour, is adding frozen waffles to its portfolio. The launch marks the brand’s foray into the breakfast category and its second offering in the freezer case, following the introduction of frozen pizza three years ago.

Brian Rudolph, co-founder and chief executive officer, said waffles represented a logical expansion of the lineup, which also includes chickpea-based takes on pasta, macaroni and cheese and rice.

“We’re in constant communication with our customers,” he told Food Business News. “Over the years we’ve heard again and again that breakfast is a pain point. Specifically, that it feels hard to find a quick, healthy and delicious option.

“Banza makes delicious comfort foods. It’s hard to imagine a more beloved, comforting breakfast than a waffle. Once we felt confident that we could develop a waffle that would hit on that trifecta people are looking for — quick, delicious and nutritious — we were full steam ahead.”

Rolling out nationwide at Whole Foods Market, Banza Protein Waffles are available in homestyle, blueberry and chocolate chip varieties and contain more protein and fiber than traditional options, according to the company. In addition to chickpeas, the formulations include egg whites, pea protein, cane sugar and avocado oil.

“Banza’s mission is to inspire people to eat more chickpeas and other beans,” Mr. Rudolph said. “Unfortunately, here in the United States we do not eat nearly enough of them. By turning chickpeas into delicious comfort foods, like waffles, we can meet people where they are.”

Mr. Rudolph said the product, which is gluten-free, was in development for more than a year, noting “it took a good amount of effort to create a crispy, fluffy texture while also staying true to our ingredient and nutrition standards.”

Banza, which debuted nearly a decade ago, has become the fifth largest pasta company in the United States, offering more than a dozen shapes ranging from alphabets to ziti, and laying the foundation for further innovation in the alternative pasta segment.

“When we first started in 2014, chickpea pasta didn’t exist,” Mr. Rudolph said. “Now Banza is the No. 5 pasta brand in the US and the top-selling ‘better-for-you’ pasta brand. Our product’s nutrition drives the initial trial, and the taste is what drives repeat purchases.”

Banza’s products are sold in approximately 25,000 stores. Over the past four years, the brand has grown nearly three times and is a staple for 9 million households, according to the company. Long term, the company plans to continue replacing refined grains with chickpeas and other beans in more product categories across the grocery store.

“Refined grain categories represent well over $100 billion in the US, and we believe a legume-based version can be 10%-plus of each of those categories,” Mr. Rudolph said. 

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