Exclusive interview: Q&A with Samuel Kestenbaum, CEO of ParmCrisps
Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery recently got the chance to talk with Samuel Kestenbaum, CEO of ParmCrisps, about how the company got started and his experience being a millennial in the world of business.
Liz Parker: How did ParmCrisps and the idea for ParmCrisps get started?
Samuel Kestenbaum: ParmCrisps was born from my personal experience as a perpetual dieter. As a former potato chip eater, I had never really found a great substitute for the flavors and snacks I was craving while still trying to maintain a healthy diet. One day, however, I was walking through a local deli and I noticed a unique chip brand. It was unique in how it was made: with 100 percent cheese. At the time, I was on the Atkins Diet and after tasting these cheese crisps, I knew how badly the public needed this product. This was an amazing solution to my snacking woes.
Fortunately, I had a great deal of food experience from my family background and my tenure at Hain Celestial Group. Through my experience, I’ve learned that when you find a product that fulfills your own needs, you can safely presume others could benefit from it, too. From there, I built my team, comprised of the best of the best, and embarked on the journey to bring this better-for-you snack to the mainstream.
LP: How has your experience been as a millennial in the business world?
SK: Being a millennial is interesting and challenging because, while I dislike how millennials are currently viewed, the millennial generation is the future. We’re the ones driving purchasing power and starting families. But, we’re responsible for action, as there are now more millennials than Baby Boomers now. With this responsibility comes the opportunity to reach new heights and set the standard for the next innovation. It also feels freeing to see an endless horizon as a millennial CEO.
LP: Have you tried to market ParmCrisps more towards millennials, as well?
SK: We market to millennials not because I’m a millennial, but because this is a product that millennials are seeking. In doing so, we’ve adjusted our selling strategies, such as flavor ideation and e-commerce, to make the product appealing and accessible to millennials seeking better-for-you snack options. With these strategies in mind, we launched our Sour Cream & Onion and Cheddar varieties because they are both popular potato chip flavors that fit the diet mold.
LP: Any plans for new flavors this year or beyond?
SK: Retailers are consistently seeking more, varied seasonal options, and we continue to innovate to keep up with that trend. Meanwhile, consumers, especially millennial consumers, typically do not want to try the same thing twice, so we also constantly work to keep up with their flavor demands. However, while we see the value of out-of-the-box flavors, we’re currently focused on giving America the classic flavors they’ve shown us they crave time and time again, such as Pizza, Cheddar and Sour Cream & Onion.
LP: What flavor trends do you expect to see in this segment for 2020?
SK: I think the “hot” flavor profiles are still going to be the mainstream. “Vanilla” and “Chocolate” will be 90 percent of business, and the other flavors will fight for that other 10 percent. For ParmCrisps, our tried-and-true flavor profiles will remain popular and important.