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Somersaults Snacks

Thursday, December 1, 2011
filed under: Utilization/Trade

It’s clear that there’s a snack revolution. Consumers are becoming more health-conscious and aware of the food they are putting into their bodies. It’s evident by the wave of health claims by popular snack food companies. You can’t walk down the snack food aisle without noticing the buzz words like “all natural,” “no trans fats” or “heart-healthy.”

Somersault Snack Company celebrates the power of the sunflower seed and is hoping that consumers follow suit. The Sausalito, Calif.-based company has found a specific niche in the snack food world that has helped it stand out in an increasingly crowded field. Because the majority of sunflower products in the snack food aisle are the “crack and eat” variety, the management of Somersault Snack knew they had their work cut out for them in terms of both consumer awareness and education about their product.

This spring, Somersault Snack released results of an Omnibus survey of 1,000 American adults and their understanding of the health benefits of seed. Despite the significant nutritional impact of seeds, well over half of the respondents knew little to nothing about the health benefits provided by sunflower seeds. Also, the majority found them too messy, difficult or inconvenient to eat. Of note, 87% responded that they would change their diet to include sunflower seeds if they knew more about the power of the seed. Somersault Snack saw these data as a call to action of sorts.

While the snack food aisle may seem like it’s getting more complicated, Somersault Snack is going in another direction – simple – with the delicious, naturally healthy sunflower seed. All their snacks are made with all-natural, pure ingredients like sunflower seeds, toasted grains and a blend of spices with no artificial additives, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats or preservatives.

The snacks come in four flavors: Pacific Sea Salt, Dutch Cocoa, Salty Pepper and Santa Fe Salsa. But it’s one thing to have snazzy titles and catchy packaging. Somersault Snack ensures there’s value behind the image. And that value is in the nutritional benefits.

Heidi Otto, general manager of the Somersault Snack Company, answers a few questions about the company and its mission to promote the power of the sunflower seed.

— Sonia Mullally

Very simply – why sunflower seeds?

Somersaults are the creation of a handful of Bay Area natural foodies, who, disenchanted by unsatisfying snacks, wanted a nourishing and tasty snack. What we discovered was that seeds are the new nut, offering the perfect balance of protein, fiber and balanced nutrition with an excellent crunch and flavor, yet with less calories and fat.

We loved the nut-free nutrition of sunflower seeds so much we chose it to be the #1 ingredient in every Somersault we bake.

How do you work at standing out in a crowded field of snack foods?

We know that the snack category is a crowded space, but we pride ourselves on being the only company that really harnesses the power of sunflower seeds. We’re a great option for people looking for a nut-free, high-protein and low-calorie snack that actually tastes good. There aren’t many of us out there!

Regarding the Omnibus survey results that were released this spring, what did the results reveal to your company about consumer awareness and education on the nutritional value of sunflower seeds?

The results of our Omnibus survey were very surprising: 67% knew little to nothing about the health benefits of sunflower seeds and 88% never or infrequently consumed sunflower seeds.

Did your company change your plan of action based on data from the public survey?

We’re spending a lot more time on educating consumers about the nutritional benefits of sunflower seeds. This includes our media relations and marketing efforts. As one example, we are now working with nutritionist Rania Batayneh, our spokesperson, [who] is helping us spread the message of the power of seeds.

Please check back on our website — — where we constantly update our consumers on the latest seed news, as well as our Facebook page — — where we continually share tips.

One of the issues from consumers about sunflower seeds is the fat content. How does your company convey a positive message about the fats in sunflower seeds?

One of the big misconceptions of consumers is that all fat is bad fat, and that’s just not true. In reality, approximately 90% of the fat in sunflower seeds is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, the healthiest types of fat for the heart. Sunflower seeds are also naturally free of harmful trans fats which raise “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower “good” cholesterol. In our product specifically, the use of sunflower seeds allows us to have the same amount of protein but just half the fat and fewer calories than a serving of almonds — a surprising fact for consumers!

Expeller-press high-oleic sunflower oil is used in your products. Do you think the consumer values this?

We chose this ingredient because of its longer stability and shelf life and the cleaner way in which it is processed. The “cold pressing” process is definitely starting to be a factor recognized by a wider range of consumers, as you see many oil companies touting the expeller pressed process. While consumers are just learning about the “high-oleic” element, they appreciate the freshness that it helps our product maintain.

Where is your product available?

Somersault products are distributed in 43 states, often at smaller independent stores. Our national retailers are: Whole Foods Market, Cost Plus World Market, Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee, Seattle’s Best Coffee, 24 Hour Fitness. Large West Coast retailers include: Raley’s, Ralph’s and Fresh & Easy. They also are available online at and our website ( Those interested can also go to our website and search by zip code to find a retailer nearby.

What’s on the horizon for your company?

There’s a lot on the horizon for us! We are coming out with a new flavor in the next six months, we’re doing a strong media push to make sure consumers are aware of our product, and we have a lot of interesting partnerships in the works for early 2012. Stay tuned!
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