Consumers continue to crave salty snacks—that behavior isn’t fading anytime soon. However, shoppers increasingly seek more meaningful than mindless noshes. They increasingly reach for products that offer not just empty calories, but nutritional benefits--plant-based protein, high-fiber appeal, and more.

Biena Snacks, founded in 2012, is attracting attention—and fans—by offering a balance of good nutrition and appealing taste. It is one of the pioneers in the better-for-you snack space, and through thoughtful innovation, mindful exploration of current and emerging consumer trends, and close relationships with key industry collaborators, the company has managed to expand from the founder’s kitchen to shelves on national retailers like Whole Foods Market and Target.

In the years since its start, Biena Snacks has been joined in the healthy snack space by numerous competitors. However, it stands out because its founder and the rest of the team continue to explore ways to break new ground, and its innovation is driven by a desire to break ground, rather than following the herd. For these reasons, Biena Snacks is Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s 2024 Snack Producer of the Year.

At A Glance

Company: Biena Snacks

Year Founded: 2012

Headquarters: Needham, MA

Website address:

Number of facilities: 3 production facilities, 2 warehousing facilities

Categories: Protein Snacks, Salty Snacks

Distribution: 15,000 stores

Key Channels: Grocery, Mass, Travel, eCommerce

Key Personnel:

  • Poorvi Patodia, CEO
  • Mike Barone, VP Sales
  • Jim Soby, VP Finance

Getting started

Before founding Biena Snacks, Poorvi Patodia had a background in consumer products, in brand management roles for high-profile companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. That perspective gave her a good sense of what it takes to run a successful CPG.

“In that role within big consumer products companies, you really get to see and experience all the different aspects of running a consumer products brand,” she remarks.

Prior, Patodia worked in the tech industry. Those roles gave her an idea of just how challenging working in a CPG field like snack production (especially when starting a company from the ground up) would be before she set out on her own.

"To be a successful founder in a space that involves physical inventory, you have to be a 10X founder—you have to be 10 times as good,” she says. “In the tech space you're not dealing with physical inventory, you're not dealing with long distribution and retail chains, you're not dealing with payments that might get made. You might make your money back on product that you sold months and months later. Even for people who have been in CPG, it's very hard.”

The inspiration to found Biena Snacks, however, didn’t originate from a desire to dominate the BFY snack space, but from a different kind of hunger.

“At the time I was pregnant and I was snacking a lot, eating a lot, and I was trying to eat healthier, so I was trying to buy healthier snacks,” she relates. “A lot of them—even if they were made with natural or organic ingredients, nutritionally, they were still just empty calories.”

Patodia, being Indian, had grown up snacking on a lot of pulses in her diet—chickpeas, beans, lentils, and others—packing a better nutritional punch than the empty-calorie snacks she was finding on U.S. shelves.

“I thought of this roasted chickpea snack that I ate growing up, and I thought, ‘Hey, I wonder if this is something that I could make for myself here in the U.S.?’ That was the beginning of the journey.”

Research and development

In 2011, Patodia started researching the possibility of developing snacks based on legumes, which offer a number of benefits for hungry, health-minded consumers—they’re high protein and fiber, and free from major allergens. On top of the health benefits of chickpeas, she also discovered the humble legume had other potential. “As I started doing this research, it made me realize, ‘Oh, my gosh—there is this whole category of ingredients that is bound to become commercialized in the U.S. because it has so many of the properties that Americans want.”

Patodia brainstormed how such snacks might take shape. Before even coming up with a product, she floated concepts for new snacks online. She taught herself Google AdWords, created ideas for half a dozen different products, crafted a name for the not-yet-launched company, and spent just a few hundred dollars testing the ads out. “I was able to see very quickly within a matter of a couple of weeks that the winning concept that people were clicking on was this idea of a high-protein, roasted chickpea snack,” she relates.

Courtesy of Biena Snacks

Then, Patodia looked to morph the snack from concept to edible reality, a process she says took about a year, informed by her CPG experience. “The big idea was, ‘If I can create this crunchy, crispy, delicious roasted chickpea that was high protein, could we actually create something so delicious that people would want to eat this instead of junk food snacks?’”

Roasted chickpeas are a popular snack around the world—Turkey, Italy, and India, among other locales—but in most of those places, Patodia says, the texture was less crunchy and crispy than what American snackers tend to crave.

“I had to reinvent and completely create from scratch a totally different process for making this kind of snack, that met the needs of the American consumer,” Patodia relates. “I just did lots of research, and lots of testing and learning in my own kitchen.”

Once Patodia got the snack to a point of crispy, crunchy near-perfection, next came finding partners to help the launch. First, she sought the right manufacturers. Trying to convince companies to sign on to make a product for a company that wasn’t yet a reality was an uphill climb. “I was essentially laughed out of the room by a number of different potential manufacturers because I had no volume, no customers, and it was a category that didn't really exist,” she says

Patodia reportedly found that starting some aspects herself before connecting with collaborators helped conserve time and budget.

“I was basically investing my savings, and so I was trying to be as scrappy as I possibly could; I knew based on my experience working with agency partners that typically what takes a lot of time and money is developing early concepts and really iterating on the concepts,” she says. “Even though I'm not at all a designer, I basically said, “Okay, I’ll just develop our packaging, because I understand the category and I've studied it so well, why don't I develop some initial concepts?’”

She hired a designer who took her sketches, tweaked them, and collaborated with her. The designer came up with a polished look, she says, but handling the initial packaging sketches enabled her to conserve on budget.

Going and growing

With the packaging concept set and manufacturing collaborators established, Biena Snacks was ready to hit shelves and attract snackers, first hitting shelves in 2013.

“When you’ve had a hand in creating something from scratch, and then you see it out in the world, there's a personal sense of satisfaction,” she says.

Courtesy of Biena Snacks

The next few years were marked by growth. Patodia was joined by the first full-time employee in 2015. It secured its first major financing with a seed round in 2016; that same year, the brand (after being regional for a few years) launched into Target. In 2018, Biena hit Whole Foods, where it had started as a regional offering, then expanded, and quickly became a national brand.

“For those early couple of years where we were just a tiny, tiny regional brand, I was really struggling to figure out how I could scale manufacturing,” Patodia confides, “I could see that there was a lot of demand for the product, but because I'd created this really unique and proprietary process for how to make this snack in the way that I thought was important for the American consumer, it took us a while to scale up on the manufacturing side. It was amazing to bring the first full-time team member on board.”

Patodia and her Biena Snacks team continued to grow, attracting additional collaborators and development experts.

“With our Series B financing, we brought a group on board that is full of very experienced snack people, including the people that grew Snyder's-Lance,” Patodia says. “These are people who are entrepreneurs and have built snack businesses from the ground up themselves.”


  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 5-oz., Sea Salt
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 5-oz., Rockin' Ranch
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 5-oz., Honey Roasted
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 5-oz., Lil' Bit Of Everything
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 5-oz., Habanero
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 5-oz., Barbeque
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 1.2-oz., Sea Salt
  • Biena Chickpea Snacks, 1.2-oz., Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Biena Tasty Thins Veggie Crisps, 4-oz., Hawaiian BBQ
  • Biena Tasty Thins Veggie Crisps, 4-oz., Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Biena Tasty Thins Veggie Crisps, 4-oz., Nacho
  • Biena Tasty Thins Veggie Crisps, 0.75-oz., Hawaiian BBQ

In October 2022, Biena added its Tasty Thins line, a chip-shaped extruded chickpea snack. Patodia remarks that while chips are the top snacking format, and the company wanted to hit the scene with a BFY option, they didn’t want to come out with something that had already been done: “There's got to be a real reason for this product to exist, a real problem that we're solving in a unique way, better than others, and we didn't quite see that opportunity until then.”

Patodia says that after a rough start, Biena Snacks has managed to build solid manufacturing relationships with facilities around the country.

“What makes our manufacturing partnerships really unique is that, because we have these proprietary elements of our processes that really make our products stand out, it means that we want to work with manufacturing partners that are as invested as we are into the success of these products,” she says, adding that Biena Snacks frequently invests in the equipment and technology the contract manufacturers require to get their snacks produced up to their quality standards.

“At the end it creates more of a win-win partnership because both partners are really involved and invested,” she states.

Biena Snacks pouches and bags are intended to be simple but also communicate a premium product. The roasted chickpeas are shown through a window, so consumers can see what they’re getting. The newer Tasty Thins line feature images of vegetables, imparting freshness, nutrition, and healthfulness. Then, there’s the sun logo, to which Patodia says consumers respond positively.

“When [consumers] saw that sun-based logo, they felt really positive, and they felt like it was really this happiness and this joy that they were getting from this aspect of the logo,” she says. “That's a pretty powerful symbol of the brand that we plan to leverage in a lot of different places.”

Advancing innovation

As Biena Snacks has grown, the team’s confidence in its status as a BFY pioneer has helped fuel its growth and innovation.

“When we were starting out in our earlier years, we were really looking much more to the market to help us understand direction, or understand what was going on in the market,” she states. “Now, with the experience that we have and the leadership position that we have in our categories, it's almost like it's the reverse, which is that we experience trends, we feel them very viscerally. We feel it in the sales data we see, we feel it in the conversations we're having with consumers, and also with retail partners who are telling us the trends that they're seeing.”

And, she says, the brand is still looking for opportunities to forge new paths, including with Tasty Thins.

“There's a really big opportunity space that is currently being ignored in the market, which is that consumers love to snack and especially chips—they love eating chips, but the biggest problem is that people tend to overeat chips, and it's not really their fault.”

Courtesy of Biena Snacks

Tasty Thins is Biena’s bid to offer a delicious, indulgent chip-eating experience without the huge pile of empty calories. “You can open a bag, you can eat 35 chips in a serving, and you can just enjoy yourself.”

In addition to being informed by experience and scanning the shelves, Biena Snacks looks for inspiration and insight from a few other sources. Team members talk directly to consumers; they dive into data sources like Google Trends, with their fingers on the pulse of what shoppers are researching and seeking out. They delve into market insights from Circana, Nielsen, Mintel, and others. Biena Snacks also checks in with buying partners on what they’re seeing. Patodia says this close collaboration also has helped the brand grow, and expand into new territory.

“We’re grateful that there are incredible retail partners—such as Whole Foods, Target, CVS, and others—that want to feature pioneering brands; we also do our part, which is the products have to perform and they have to really deliver value to their consumers,” she says.

One of the paths Biena Snacks has traveled has taken it to a unique place: the Whole Foods salad bar, popular with shoppers looking for a quick, healthful lunch during a work break, or a nutritious ready-to-eat dinner.

“We started seeing lots of pictures coming up on social media where people were taking our roasted chickpeas and putting them on top of their salads, “Salads are going into all kinds of formats these days, and people are looking for easy, simple ways to incorporate protein into their diets.”

Biena Snacks connected with the buyers and discussed located them in the salad bars, or putting shippers in the produce section.

Path to profitability

One of the things on Biena Snacks’ list of accomplishments Patodia says she is proudest of is managing to become a profitable entity. She offers her thoughts on what she believes are the key guidelines for CPG entrepreneurs to get on the right path

Create a culture of profitability. This involves keeping priorities straight, and being willing to make hard decisions and tradeoffs for the good of the growing business—something that Patodia says many leaders of growing businesses struggle with. “When you’re an entrepreneur and you’re dealing with someone that has authority over saying ‘yes’ to something that you need or want for your business, you often become shy or nervous to speak out about what doesn't work for you—having that hard gives you reasons to go out and have those conference collaborative discussions.”

Price product appropriately. While it’s true that most consumers can be enticed by bargain-basement prices, it is important for CPG companies place a price tag on their product that is appropriate for the value and delivers a decent margin. “Pricing is the number one determinant, typically, of what your margins are going to look like; as a business, you have to be able to survive and thrive, so if you're constantly sacrificing by underpricing your products, you're really hurting your business.”

Maintain the right inventory. Maintaining the proper inventory to serve retail customers while not tying too much capital up in product can be a tightrope walk. “There’s this constant interplay between sales and finance and marketing to ensure that what we're producing is just the right amount, and we also put guidelines in place for how many weeks on hand we want to carry of inventory,” Patodia reveals.

Maintain strong financial analysis. Having a firm grasp on the numbers involved in a partnership, at first and down the road, can help in determining what is required for long-term success. “We recognize that when you launch into a customer, you're going to have to spend more for the first one to three years in order to really drive awareness of your products,” Patodia offers.

Create ‘win-win’ situations. When working with partners at every level, including retail partners, it can help the long-term health of the relationship as well as the immediate to look for ways to come to terms that benefit both parties. “The key is to have that conversation with your supplier to really understand what they care about and, based on that, see if you can create favorable terms.”

Looking ahead

A dozen years after entering the BFY snack world, Biena Snacks has its sights set on future growth and innovation.

“There’s big opportunity that we're very excited to pursue, and we want to do it the right way. And so we do have some exciting new products coming out,” she says. For example, the company tested a nacho iteration of its Tasty Thins—after consumer offered rave reviews of the flavor, the company produced and is set to ship to its customers.

“We're on our way to delivering our mission,” Patodia says, “but we still have a lot more work to do.”