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Oct 16, 2020

Nick Desai, founder and CEO of pea-based snack brand Peatos, believes that junk food consumers will never trade their Doritos for kale chips. So if you want to disrupt the $21 billion market for salty snacks you have to give consumers what they want -- along with something they didn’t know they needed.

Promoted as “a one of a kind ‘junk food’ only without the junk,” Peatos’ crunchy curls and rings were developed to look and taste like legacy snack brands Cheetos and Funyuns but are made with all natural ingredients. The brand’s marketing strategy, which is focused on making direct comparisons between its products’ ingredient profiles and those of popular salty snack brands, appears to be resonating with consumers and industry gatekeepers. Three years since the brand’s debut, Peatos is carried in nearly 5,000 retail locations, including those of Kroger, Safeway and Costco, and the company recently closed a $7 million funding round that will be used to fuel additional growth. 

In an interview included in this episode, Desai spoke about the origins of Peatos, why he believes that he’s doing the right thing regardless of the brand’s chances for success, how to achieve meaningful scale amid consumer skepticism about healthy snacking and why he believes that the American dream “is still very much alive.”

Show notes: 

0:31: Dad Dub, Office Juice and CBD in Sports -- The episode’s hosts chatted about a Skrillex video that no one will ever see, an opportunity for Mike to dust off his longboard and a must-follow Instagram account. They also discussed handcrafted immunity-boosting libations at the office, why CBD beverage brands are targeting athletes, required viewing for anyone involved with or interested in the cannabis space and why Ray loves a particular brand of energy bites.

15:54: Interview: Nick Desai, Founder & CEO, Peatos -- Desai spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about bringing his kids to industry trade shows and conventions, his father’s influence on his career and his transition from law to investment banking to the food industry. He also discussed how the acquisition of two snack companies paved the way for the development of Peatos, how he navigated a cease-and-desist demand from PepsiCo and why great taste is the only way to convince people to trade their snack brand for another one. Later, he also spoke about his recent Linkedin post about the “American dream” and why he’s optimistic about entrepreneurship in the U.S. despite a challenging year for the country.

Brands in this episode: Ocean Spray, Hella Cocktail Co., Sweet Reason, DEFY, Gatorade, Powerade, NanoGAINZ, OFFFIELD, BioSteel Nomz, Olipop, Poppi, Health-Ade, Peatos, Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, Wise Snacks