SAN FRANCISCO – Onion chips are the latest launch to emerge from Dang Foods’ new product pipeline and were on display at the Winter Fancy Food Show. The chips come in four varieties: sea salt, salt and pepper, chipotle garlic and Applewood barbecue, and are made from real onions, said company founder Vincent Kitirattragarn.
The Berkeley, Calif-based company was a pioneer in bringing a coconut chip snack product to market, and Mr. Kitirattragarn said the introduction of onion chips is a natural progression for the company.
|Vincent Kitirattragarn, founder of Dang Foods|
“We pioneered the coconut chip category and grew it to about 7,000 stores,” he said Jan. 17 during the Winter Fancy Food Show. “We reached a point where we were asking ourselves what to do next? We initially looked at mango, but then I was in a supermarket in Tokyo and saw all of these onion products. I ended up buying almost a whole shelf of products to try them.”
The product is marketed as clean label, as a natural alternative to the Funyuns brand of onion flavored rings, and Mr. Kitirattragarn hopes to capitalize on the health connotations associated with onion. The product is currently available in Whole Foods stores in about half of the country and it will make its national debut in April.
“We use real onion and not corn meal,” Mr. Kitirattragarn said. “The product is processed using vacuum frying, which reduces the atmospheric pressure and allows it to be fried at a lower temperature. This gives us a fluffier chip that is not heavy with oil.”
One challenge for the company is such equipment is not available in the United States, and the product is manufactured off shore and brought into the United States.
Mr. Kitirattragarn said the product’s target market is consumers who shop the “natural channel” and are willing to spend a little more on snacks.
“We want to get it to the right consumer, get in their mouths and then it will become a repeat buy,” he said.
Dang Foods was launched in 2012, and Mr. Kitirattragarn said the introduction of the coconut chip variety was a learning experience, one in which the company learned several lessons it plans to employ with the roll-out of the onion chip line.
“When we launched the coconut chip product we had two sizes and we didn’t need to,” he said. “We also launched line extensions that were not line priced and needed to be refrigerated. It didn’t work. Now everything is line priced.
“We also have a better idea of how to market the product. It’s a matter of sampling in stores, trying to get brand ambassadors and trying to get the product into as many mouths as possible.”