Coming out of a Crunch—Esme + Sita Founder Rose Verjee Talks about Positioning for Healthy Food Brands
March 15, 2023
The Granola bars rose in popularity in the 1960s, due to the counterculture movement against anti-establishment food. With a mixture of toasted oat, dried fruits, and nuts - who could resist sliding in this seemingly healthy snack into their children’s’ lunchbox?
Granola bar sales peaked in 1980s, but it witnessed a steep drop later on, with some companies getting completely wiped out from the market.
This is because manufacturers began adding ingredients to granola bars that practically made it a candy bar-- chocolate, artificial flavors, peanuts, sugar (often as the #1 ingredients) thus, encouraging health-conscious folks to switch to dried fruit or fruit filled bars.
When it comes to labels and ingredients, more consumers are prioritizing this in their buying decisions as shown here.
The terms “organic”, “locally grown”, and “fair trade” are becoming staples in the health-conscious community. Yet, up until 2007 there weren’t many options for organic snacks in the grocery aisles. Organic indicates that all ingredients were cultivated without the use of synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or pesticides—all of which have been shown to have adverse impacts on human health. According to Mintel’s report, organic food sales rose 132% from 2002 to 2007, to $4.8 billion.
Hoping to democratise healthy snacking, Rose from Esme+Sita started her company inspired by ancient Indian health practices and organic farming tradition. She shares her experience building a healthy and organic seed bar product from scratch and her aspirations in 2023 and beyond. Esme + Sita bars are uniquely formulated with seeds along with superfood powders like moringa and turmeric, contains no fruits or nuts, and are free from additives and preservatives.
What inspired the founding
of your brand?
What are your brand’s core values?
Describe one way you try to
keep innovating with your brand.
Talk about a roadblock or a challenge you faced as a business owner; have you overcome this? If so, please tell us how you did or how you’re working on it.
We launched our brand in March 2019 and did very
well the first year. Like everyone else in March 2020, Covid happened, and
everything came to a stand still. We survived by servicing the stores that had
our products. No one was taking on new products and we couldn’t give out food
samples at in-store demos. Nothing was allowed. Thankfully, some stores allowed
us to do demos in 2021 and we came up with a safe way to give out sealed
samples. Now the situation is different and more open.
How did you know you had a
good product-market fit?
What are your aspirations
for your brand 10 years from now?