How Healthy Crunch cultivated a rapidly growing brand

Healthy Crunch Kale ChipsBrand owners dream of retail chains eager to list their products. But it’s a challenge in today’s rapidly changing market where shelf space is limited and brands jockey for attention. Here is how one brand took the bull by the horns and hit store shelves across Canada.

As the founder of The Healthy Crunch Company, dynamic food entrepreneur Julie Bednarski seized the opportunity to develop a better tasting, healthier chip that satisfies cravings. The answer was kale, a nutritional powerhouse that has achieved star status in the produce category. Soon after Healthy Crunch® Kale Chips were launched, she introduced Kale Krumbs®, an innovative flavour boost in a shaker.

When Julie decided to go big, that was the turning point. Her brand achieved meteoric growth in the first six months. The impressive customer roster includes Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, Loblaw, Sobeys, Farm Boy, Metro, Cineplex, TJX Canada and luxury retailer Holt Renfrew. What got her there? Let’s look at Julie’s formula for success.

Healthy Crunch Kale KrumbsProduct attributes are key

Julie created a brand that is highly relevant for today’s health conscious snackers who are always on the go.

It aligns with trends like smart snacking, artisanal and free-from, and also delivers great taste with the promised crunch.

Relevant point of difference

This premium product fills an expanding niche – consumers with food allergies and sensitivities – capitalizing on Nielsen research findings that “28% of Canadians say someone in their household suffers from food allergies or intolerances”. Healthy Crunch® products are free of all allergens, including peanuts and tree nuts, extending marketing opportunities to parents and schools.

Packaging evolution

During a two-year period of market testing, the packaging design evolved through several iterations, culminating in a complete rebranding. The result was an impactful design that stands out on shelf and highlights attributes that shoppers are looking for.

Expanding the go-to-market strategy

These days, there’s no shortage of places that sell snacks. In addition to grocery retail, Julie reached out to channels like food service, entertainment venues and schools; any location her target customers frequent. Accommodating multiple channels requires multiple packaging formats. Healthy Crunch® Kale Chips are available in single serve, kid size, multi-packs and bulk.

Investing for the future

Taking advantage of government grants and financing for entrepreneurs, Julie invested heavily to build a sustainable business. She chose to build a facility, to have better control over production, quality and food safety.

The business began as a one-woman show, but rapid growth required more resources. Investing in an operations team enabled Julie to focus on promoting the brand to drive sales.

Independent certifications inspire trust

Today’s food labels have a minefield of claims relating to allergens. Many are questionable self-declarations. Although third party certifications come at a cost, they provide assurance for people with food sensitivities, build trust in the brand and create a point of difference versus competitors. Healthy Crunch® ticks lots of boxes; peanut and tree nut free, gluten-free, vegan and organic, with independent certifications to back them up.

Building brand recognition

Repeated exposure is key to increase brand recognition and grow sales. Instore sampling programs are a highly effective marketing tactic when a brand has broad taste appeal. Julie reports that 90% of tasters buy her product during demos.

When a brand has an interesting story, promotional opportunities open up. Julie’s story is tailored to consumer needs, netting the brand exposure through TV, radio, social media and speaking engagements. She also exhibits at trade shows, consumer shows and community events; anywhere her target audience can be found. On route, the Healthy Crunch® team drives a mobile billboard a van wrapped with eye-catching graphics – that is hard to miss.

Facilitating future growth

Julie is implementing an expansion plan that doubles the size of her facility, to sustain the brand and scale up for growth. And she will leverage every opportunity to promote Healthy Crunch®, building brand awareness, driving trial and propelling sales.

As a packaged foods consultant, Birgit Blain helps brands that struggle to maintain listings. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw and President’s Choice®. Contact her at or learn more at

© Birgit Blain

This article was published in Food in Canada.

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