On Oct. 18, Joni Kindwall-Moore, founder of Coeur d'Alene-based company Snacktivist Foods, was on tenterhooks alongside more than a dozen other Idaho food product creators at Trailhead, waiting to see who the panel of judges would choose to win the first-annual Trailmix competition. Created through a partnership with Trailhead and Albertsons as part of Boise Startup Week, Trailmix was designed to give small Idaho food companies with creative products a leg up in a cutthroat food industry dominated by giants like Kellogg's, General Mills, Danone and Mars. Turnout was impressive, both in the applicant pool, which pulled in 42 companies, and at the event itself, which stuffed Trailhead like an oversized sardine can.
- Courtesy Snacktivist Foods
"I can't place a number on it, but the place was packed. We had standing room only, and even then it was pretty loud in the back—we had to shush people down," said Trailhead Executive Director Tiam Rastegar. While some attendees were there to support the competitors, others had come to browse the booths, taste the goods and vote for the people's choice award.
Prepping for the competition, Kindwall-Moore had taken a big risk—she'd chosen to offer the judges tastes of two unreleased products, moving up their original 2020 debut date. Rather than sticking to her established line of dry mixes for gluten-free baked goods like almond-oat muffins, multigrain pizza crust and rosemary-garlic focaccia, she passed out chocolate chip and dark chocolate brownie cookies (both vegan, gluten-free, and made with organic, sustainable and fair trade ingredients) to the judges.
"Normally when you're used to doing investor pitches you want everything to be super-duper laser focused, and with this competition I decided just to sell them on the brand and the concept of conscientious indulgence, which is really kind of our mantra at Snacktivist Foods," she said.
The risk paid off. Kindwell-Moore raked in the top prize package from the pitch competition, which included shelf space at the Broadway Albertsons, a $10,000 cash prize, $3,000 in legal services from Holland & Hart, a $4,000 marketing workshop, mentorship opportunities with "key Albertsons leaders" and more. And according to Albertsons, hers isn't the only new product to watch for. Finalists Voce Fruit Tea, BGood Bars, Kate's Real Food and Galimofre Pasta—and people's choice-winner Yaya Cheese—may also make appearances on Albertsons' shelves.
"We loved all of the products," said Albertsons spokesperson Kathy Holland. "So there's definitely some opportunity there for some of those other products to be in our stores coming soon."
Foodies can order Kindwall-Moore's cookies now at snacktivistfoods.com, or find them at the Broadway Alberstons in early February.