Calbee America, a company best known in the U.S. for its pulse-based and better-for-you products, has been named Snack Producer of the Year by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery. The award will be presented to leaders from the winning producer during SNAXPO 2023 in Orlando, FL, on March 20.

Calbee was founded in Japan in 1949 by Takashi Matsuo; the company brought its first product to U.S. consumers (Shrimp Chips) 21 years later in 1970. Its stateside outpost, Calbee America, has launched a number of innovations in the U.S., including its flagship brand, Harvest Snaps. The pulse-based snack is uniquely located in the produce section of most retailers which underscores the healthfulness of the product.

“Better-for-you is part of the Harvest Snaps DNA,” says Sandra Payer, head of marketing for Calbee America. “As the brand owner for Harvest Snaps, we are super proud that the first ingredient in our product is always nutritious green peas, beans, or red lentils. These core ingredients are very nutritious and promote a healthier lifestyle, making the products very much on trend.”

With its latest product launch, Harvest Snaps Selects pulse-based snacks, Calbee America has set its sights on establishing a presence in the salty snack aisle. It also launched ring-shaped Crunchy Loops, made with red lentils. In creating and producing all of its products, says CEO Ryo Tsutsumi, the Calbee America staff at every level is dedicated to producing quality work. 

“Once we start focusing on that, people are prouder of the outcome, which makes them proud of what they do,” he comments. “They're more motivated to stay with us or come to work with us. The team has really stuck with me and walked along with me on that journey. At the end of the day, when you deliver good quality, consumers react to it.”

The company’s plans for further expansion in the U.S. include bringing some of the legacy snack brands, already widely popular with snackers in Japan and other Asian markets, onto U.S. retail shelves.

“We're going to continue to do great things with Harvest Snaps and Crunchy Loops,” remarks Tim Bateman, senior vice president of sales and marketing, “but there are also exciting products that are just ready to explode in the ethnic aisle, and ultimately in the salty snack space, with our legacy brands.”

Doug Peckenpaugh, SF&WB group publisher, is scheduled to present the Snack Producer of the Year award to Tsutsumi during the SNAXPO 2023 General Session Breakfast on Monday, March 20. SNAXPO is an industry conference and exposition produced by SNAC International.

Read the full coverage of Calbee America’s Snack Producer of the Year honors in the March SF&WB eMagazine here.