NEW YORK — “There’s nothing you can’t put a chia seed in,” said Janie Hoffman, founder and chief executive officer of Mamma Chia. Her Carlsbad, Calif.-based company offers an assortment of beverages and snacks featuring the nutrient-dense seed.
|Janie Hoffman, founder and c.e.o. of Mamma Chia|
“Chia is neutral in flavor and boosts the nutrients of anything it’s added to,” Ms. Hoffman said. “I put chia in everything in my kitchen.”
Ms. Hoffman launched Mamma Chia in 2009 with a range of organic chia-infused fruit juice beverages in such flavors as blackberry hibiscus and strawberry lemonade. More recently, the company has added fruit and vegetable pouches, granola clusters and nutrition bars containing chia, which is high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. All of Mamma Chia’s products are organic, gluten-free and non-bioengineered.
At the Summer Fancy Food Show, held June 26-28 in New York, the brand showcased its newest product lines. Mamma Chia is launching a line of green juice beverages that combine chia seeds with vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, spirulina, barley grass and wheatgrass. Flavors include cayenne and lemon, beet and ginger, kale and mint, and ginger and lemongrass.
“So many green drinks are high in sugar,” Ms. Hoffman said in an interview with Food Business News at the show. “These have less than half the sugar of other brands.”
Also new from Mamma Chia is a range of reduced-sugar snack bars. With 150 calories and 4 grams of sugar, the organic bars feature nuts, ancient grains and chia. Varieties include peanut butter sea salt, caramel sea salt, and maple pecan.
“We know everyone is looking for less sugar, but they don’t want to sacrifice flavor,” Ms. Hoffman said. “This is a nutrient rich, tasty bar. It tastes like a healthy rice crispy treat.”
Chia has skyrocketed in product development over the past few years. Between 2014 and 2015, food and beverage launches containing chia increased 70%, according to Mintel. This has painted an increasingly competitive landscape for Mamma Chia, but it also has raised consumer awareness of the ingredient.
“Having been the first to market chia seed beverages, it’s great to see folks embracing chia seeds and people seeking them out and embracing Mamma Chia as a brand,” Ms. Hoffman said.
Mamma Chia products are sold nationwide in such retailers as Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, Whole Foods Market and Safeway.
“We have been blessed to have tremendous growth year over year,” Ms. Hoffman said. “But we still have room to grow.”
As for future innovation, Ms. Hoffman said she sees ample opportunities for products starring the super seed.“I have so many more things that I want to do,” she said. “But for now we are really focusing on our granolas, bars and beverages.”