While the game of tracking consumer trends is never short on nuance, clear patterns regularly emerge to catalyze incremental growth in select snack and bakery categories. Innovation that strategically aligns with these trends provides welcome lifts to category sales, pointing a direction toward future growth and profit potential. This is often a game of inches, with niches won over time, and lines nicely diversified.

And then you have seismic paradigm shifts that rattle a category to its core.

Such is the case with microwave popcorn. Overall sales in the category have steadily declined over the years. At the same time, the clean-label movement began its forward march. Seeing an opening, ready-to-eat popcorn companies—many with easily attainable clean labels—catapulted onto the scene.

Still, microwave popcorn awaited its transformation. Little did the industry know that, since 2011, a small, upstart snack company with a passion for both microwave popcorn and ultra-clean labels was steadfastly making progress toward its goal.

That company is Quinn Snacks, our 2017 “Snack Producer of the Year,” and it’s one to watch. Its celebrated co-founder and CEO, Kristy Lewis, doesn’t take no for an answer and will continues to help redefine how we perceive snacking in America. The story of Quinn Snacks is one of clean label done supremely well. It’s a story of transparency that raises the bar higher than most can reach. It’s a story of ingredient and formulation ingenuity. And, most of all, it’s a story that praises human integrity, intertwining snack producer and consumer in a lasting bond of mutual trust.

After Quinn Snacks posted over 60 percent growth and dropped into the top 10 list of national microwave popcorn brands by the middle of 2016, the snack industry took notice. Now a handful of larger brands are playing their hands in the clean-label microwave popcorn game.

But Quinn Snacks will continue to still stand out for its holistic approach and its refreshing heart-on-its-sleeve honesty.