The Eureka moment for co-founders Kat Kavner (a brand and marketer who spent her formative years at Sweet Earth and Clif Bar) and Jaime Tulley (an operations expert who met Kavner at Sweet Earth) is came as they joined hordes of shoppers heading to the canning aisle to stock up on spring 2020 staples.
“He really was born out of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders,”Kavner told FoodNavigator-USA. “Like everyone else, we would go to the grocery store and stock up on canned food, but the category seemed pretty frozen and stagnant, and we had this light bulb moment.
“Could we completely reinvent canned foods, starting with a focus on flavor and quality and designing foods that resonate with a new generation of young people?”
She added: “The core value proposition of canned foods is really strong and it still seems relevant to a modern consumer. It is convenient and affordable with very high household penetration. The piece of food waste is also important. We waste so much fresh food that it’s hard to plan when you’re going to use it all up, so we want to appeal to a new generation of home cooks.
“So we did some consumer testing on the concept and sent out a survey to about 100 people who were second- or third-degree relationships to try to steer us away from our friends and family who were just cheering us on. .and the concepts and flavor profiles immediately seemed to resonate with people.
“Beans are an incredible source of plant-based nutrition and they’ve had a moment in the culinary spotlight over the past few years.” Kat Kavner, Co-Founder and CEO, Heyday Canning Co
“We wanted people to be able to open a can and cook a really effortless meal in minutes”
From there, the two went to the kitchen, followed by the food science department of a nearby university with a canning line to find recipes combining beans and gravy that can work on their own in recipes with rice. , tacos and other dishes, or in combination with meat for those looking for extra protein, she said.
“Jamie and I are both vegetarians and we use beans as the centerpiece of a one ton meal in our daily lives and we thought to ourselves, why are all beans just canned in brine or some water ? Why not add all those other ingredients and flavors so it’s ready to heat and eat and use as the main source of protein in a meal?
“If you are a meat eater, you can definitely add an animal protein or meat alternative,” added Kavner, who said each can had three simple serving suggestions on the back.
“We want people to be able to open a can and whip up a really effortless meal in minutes.”
Made in partnership with Ali Slagle, Recipe Developer for The New York Times and Bon Appétit, Heyday’s Stew Sauce
Canned beans are designed to accompany staple foods like rice, pasta, or vegetables. The brand will debut with six flavors:
● Harissa Lemon Chickpeas
● White beans kimchi sesame
● Chickpeas with curry and coconut
● Tomato alla Vodka Cannellini Beans
● Enchilada black beans
● Apricot Glazed Baked Beans
“It was probably the worst possible time to approach people with a new concept”
As the couple discovered, canning — which involves high heat — presents unique challenges, Kavner said: “Using a retort is similar to cooking in that you put something in it and you don’t always know what will come out. Your sauce can taste amazing and fresh in the kitchen and then you put it in the retort and it just doesn’t work, so that was a learning curve for us.
Finding a co-packer in the midst of a pandemic was also a challenge, she said. “It was probably the worst possible time to approach people with a new concept. Even though the capacity situation started to improve, canned foods is a commodity industry with simple ingredients and there was a bit of a disconnect in many cases with what we were trying to do in terms of to really push the boundaries, but we finally found a partner.
“We have planned our first trial and we plan to do a first production run afterwards. We used a great broker who put us in touch with the forager team at Sprouts and we just found out that they want to take our six SKUs for their center-to-store innovation program at scale national for a trial period, said Kavner, who raised about $1.4 million to get Heyday off the ground, mostly from friends, family and angel investors.
The plan is to set up a DTC site around the same time the products hit Sprouts stores in November, Kavner said, although given the weight of the products (which makes them expensive to ship), a she said: “My the instinctive instinct is that it is more of a brick and mortar product.
“When you’re sitting on a shelf next to 99 cent cans of beans, there’s a lot of pressure to lower the price as much as possible”
The introductory price at Sprouts will be $3.99 on the innovation platform rotation, she said. “But our suggested retail price [thereafter] is $4.99. When you’re sitting on a shelf next to 99 cent cans of beans, there’s a lot of pressure to lower the price as much as possible.
“But from a taste and quality standpoint, we’re delivering a product that far surpasses anything in the aisle.”