Start-up focus: US-based Variety Fun targets healthy and convenient snacks market, direct to your door

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15 Oct 2018 --- Two entrepreneurs have turned their US$165,000 investment into a millennial-favorite snack subscription box, that is now projecting US$12 million dollars in sales for 2018 and over 500,000 boxes sold on Amazon. According to the company, Variety Fun’s subscription service delivers an assortment of snacks to US offices, improving workplace culture and boosting employee morale. Variety Fun is a snack subscription box that curates “hundreds of the best-tasting, classic and nutritional brands,” including Popcorners, Hippeas, and Popchips, for offices in the US. By partnering with over 500 snack brands, the company offers businesses the most affordable and convenient subscription snack service with the most extensive selection.

According to the company, Variety Fun is devoted to providing businesses with the best snack experiences through its business intelligence and customer data. The brand also offers healthy and traditional snack options, and a combination of both to meet the needs of all office environments, currently focusing on markets in California and New York. The company is planning to expand further into international markets in the year ahead. 

Through their work in sales, founders Yoni Pinhasov and Ilya Avshalumov saw an opportunity to create a snack brand consumers could receive directly in their home or office with a variety of healthy and classic options for a lower cost. Their initial investment sparked their first basement warehouse where Variety Fun began, and the rest is history. Variety Fun now offers over 200 varieties of snack brands and assortments for their consumers to taste, explore, and enjoy. 

FoodIngredientsFirst recently spoke with Avshalumov, who discussed the snacking market trends, dietary requirements and future prospects.  

FoodIngredientsFirst: What trends do you see in the snacking space?

Avshalumov: Right now, the most significant snacking trend is people seeking out healthy snack options. Consumers want a choice that satisfies their snack cravings but they also want the ability to munch on nutritious snacks for something to give them an extra healthy boost of energy.

FoodIngredientsFirst: What about different dietary trends? Does this affect your snacks?

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The brand offers healthy and traditional snack options, and a combination of both to meet the
needs of all office environments, currently focusing on markets in California and New York.

Avshalumov: We’ve noticed an uptick in more and more requests for intentionally different snacks or different emerging dietary preferences – keto, paleo, gluten-free, and more. Now more than ever, people are embracing new and innovative options in hopes of expanding their snacking choices. Again, it’s all about options. Tastes and dietary restrictions have made it, so snackers are becoming more adventurous with more than just the traditional brands that everyone has snacked on for years. Vegan snacks are really booming at the moment, with companies like Hippeas doing particularly well in our boxes by offering recognizable but unique flavors like vegan white cheddar.

With the rise of subscription snack boxes like Variety Fun, the snack market continues to proliferate, especially online. As the demand increases, so does the ability for everyone to get in on the snacking fun. Maintaining dozens of different snack options allows consumers to try, identify and explore new flavors and brands alongside the big names. Whether a person craves savory or sweet, cookies or candies, or something in between, snack box subscriptions that smartly use their digital platforms to embrace their subscriber needs to cast a wide snack net means they’ll continue to provide something for everyone.

FoodIngredientsFirst: Where do your ideas for products come from? Does consumer interest drive these ideas?

Avshalumov: It’s simple; we listen to customer feedback. Through questionnaires or surveys, we always listen to our subscribers so we can learn about new snacking habits. We’re continually developing a more complex understanding of diverse flavors beyond the basics of sweet and salty, and we want to empower our subscribers to look out for new flavorful options in their snack boxes each month.

FoodIngredientsFirst: What is the significance for start-ups, like yourselves, in the food industry?

Avshalumov: The food industry is moving online at a rapid pace each year, and any companies unwilling to embrace these trends will be left behind.

FoodIngredientsFirst: Why and why was it a good time to set up when you did?

Avshalumov: We began at a time when consumers started to feel more and more comfortable with moving their grocery shopping online. Once subscription boxes reached that level of familiarity, it was up to us to stand out, and we feel we achieved that with our Fun Box (classic snacks) and Fit Box (healthier snacks) options that fit the needs of all of our subscribers. 

FoodIngredientsFirst: As a start-up, what have been some of the challenges you have faced?

Avshalumov: Hiring the right employees in the early stages was challenging and vital to our success. But we’ve assembled a strong team including our snack specialists who work hard to develop new and ever-changing snack options – that understands the importance of creating a stress-free snacking experience for all our subscribers.

FoodIngredientsFirst: And what are your hopes for the business in the coming years? Will you be shipping worldwide?

Avshalumov: We have big plans for the coming years. First and foremost, we’ll continue to grow our extensive snack catalog. We have access to all of the best flavors and are always on the search for new, cool up-and-coming brands. We’re also developing a snack website that will include both a B2B and B2C option to expand beyond our stronghold in the office space. And, of course, we hope to expand into international markets in the next few years.

FoodIngredientsFirst: What products do you offer and what has the response been so far?

Avshalumov: We offer a number of different snack subscription programs that will fit any office size. We have two different themes: The Fun Box focuses more on classic snacks like Doritos, Oreos, Rice Krispies, Nature Valley, and other favorites. Our Fit Box option focuses on healthier trending snacks like Kind, RX Bar, Terra, Hippeas, Popchips and more.

FoodIngredientsFirst: Regarding innovation, what are you offering that hasn’t been done before?

Avshalumov: Unlike other online snack subscription boxes, which only include a few flavors, our boxes can consist of over 50 different brands and flavors. Variety is one of our key pillars – it’s right there in our name! We work with all of the biggest snack brands, such as Oreos and Popchips, as well as with new cool start-up snack brands such as Protes Protein Chips. With the Fun and Fit options, we’ve got every craving covered. Most other snack subscription services go either a bit too crazy with wacky snacks nobody would enjoy, or they simply stick with the old, boring flavors. We believe that thinking big and then whittling down the options for each subscriber preference is a better, more refined way to achieve a sense of snacking accessibility.

FoodIngredientsFirst: Have you been approached by and bigger companies looking to invest in your business?

Avshalumov: Yes, but we have nothing to announce at this time. Stay tuned!

By Elizabeth Green

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