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Snack Startups Nab SNAC Tank Awards

SNAC International announces winners of pitch competition
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Candid founder and CEO Chris Kajander won the SNAC Tank grand prize for his cacao bites product.

After several startup brands made their pitch at a recent industry conference, SNAC International announced the winners of its second “SNAC Tank” competition.

Held during the recent SNX 2022 meeting in Phoenix, the contest featured presentations and samples from a variety of fledgling brands. Candid walked away with the $10,000 grand prize for its Noons cacao bites snack. The product is made from whole cacao pods sustainably sourced from farmers in Costa Rica and Peru and sold in compostable packaging.

"Winning SNAC Tank was incredible validation. I started Candid as COVID hit, so I haven't had much of an opportunity to participate in industry events, trade shows or pitch competitions. It felt amazing to receive positive feedback from such an all-star panel of judges,” said Chris Kajander, Candid’s founder and CEO.

The “audience choice” honor went to Pulp Pantry, a startup that makes veggie chips from upcycled fresh vegetable juice pulp. That award was based on a live vote.

Other companies featured in the final round included Eat The Change's Cosmic Carrot Chews, a kid-friendly carrot snack sweetened with fruit juice; Daily Crunch Snacks, a line of sprouted almonds and trail mixes; and Awakened Foods, which presented Ka-Pop! , a sorghum-based vegan and gluten-free snack. The entries and pitches were judged by an expert panel that included Cindy Kuester of Snak King Corp.; Johnny Tran of 301 Inc., the venture capital arm of General Mills; Hector De La Barreda of Amplify Snack Brands; Kristy Lewis of Quinn Foods LLC; and Rohan Oza, founder and managing partner for CAVU Ventures who is a frequent guest on the “Shark Tank” television show that airs on ABC.

According to Christine Cochran, president and CEO of SNAC International (formerly the Snack Food Association), the SNAC Tank competition was a highlight of the event and reflects the strong dynamic of startups in the industry. "Entrepreneurs like these are what continue to drive the ever-evolving snack industry and what makes this part of SNX so exciting. I want to congratulate both of our winners and look forward to seeing a new collection of innovative ideas for the next SNAC Tank,” she remarked.

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