Spokane Journal of Business

Snacktivist Foods: Health food’s sweet spot


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-—Keith Erickson
Snacktivist Foods LLC owner Joni Kindwall-Moore displays some of the company’s products at a recent event.

Joni Kindwall-Moore and her children have issues with certain foods.

Eggs give her hives, and wheat makes her joints ache. Her son experiences bouts of digestive troubles and eczema from some foods, and her daughter was born intolerant of dairy products.

Their food sensitivities motivated Kindwall-Moore to develop gluten-free, vegan foods and form Snacktivist Foods LLC, a family-owned Coeur d’Alene-based business that operates from a small space in Spokane.

Snacktivist sells baked-good mixes with which customers can make almond and oat muffins, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate brownies, multigrain pizza flatbread, and rosemary garlic focaccia, among other items. 

Kindwall-Moore says she and her husband, Roy Moore, have found a niche in the health-conscious food market, a market that’s gaining in popularity.

“As a mom, I know how frustrating it is to feed a family with food intolerances, and I feel for the plight of families with severe food allergies and intolerances,” Kindwall-Moore says.

While she advocates for a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, she says, “We are focused on nutrition that people miss when they have to cut out wheat products.”

While the initial intent for Snacktivist was to cater to the gluten-free population, the snacks are increasingly gobbled up by folks with no intolerances—people who want to enjoy healthier food alternatives, Kindwall-Moore says.

“We actually sell a huge percentage of our products to people who aren’t looking for gluten free,” she says. “They just like our products and feel like they’re a healthier alternative. They’re nutritious and delicious, and it’s just a bonus that they’re gluten, egg, and dairy free.”

Kindwall-Moore and her husband launched Snacktivist in December 2015. The Coeur d’Alene couple manufactures their food from a hole-in-the-wall shop space at 130 N. Stone, behind the Spokane Spice Co., in East Spokane.

The couple, who are both registered nurses at Kootenai Health, in Coeur d’Alene, weren’t initially seeking a rapid rise in sales.

“We wanted a slow and steady growth trajectory,” Kindwall-Moore says. “Considering both my husband and I are from health-sciences backgrounds and are raising three small children, we weren’t seeking a fast-and-furious growth model.”

Still, the company’s market is expanding, Kindwall-Moore says. Snacktivist products now are sold across in nearly 30 shops across six states—Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, and California.

In the Inland Northwest, Snacktivist Foods products are available at Pilgrims Market, in Coeur d’Alene;  The Flour Mill, in Hayden; Winter Ridge Natural Foods, in Sandpoint; and The Kitchen Engine, in Spokane.

While Kindwall-Moore is the primary operator of the business, a half-dozen independent contractors handle the bookkeeping, provide marketing services, and assist in the kitchen, she says.

Her husband refers to himself as a silent partner, assisting with production, packaging, delivery, and banking.

He says growth has been strong to date despite limited marketing efforts.

“We don’t do a ton of marketing, and I’m really amazed by how much we’ve just grown organically and how we just keep selling more,” Moore claims.

Kindwall-Moore says Snacktivist has two distinct customer bases.

The first is millennials and young Gen Xers, she says.

“They have kids at home and may be allergy conscious,” she says “That’s really one of our consistent consumer groups.”

While that demographic doesn’t surprise her, the second group of consistent customers does.

“It’s the younger millennials in their 20s,” Kindwall-Moore says. “A lot of them are very health conscious and fitness orientated, and when they indulge, they want to indulge in something that is super high-quality and healthy.”

Especially popular among the latter group are the multigrain pizza crust and brownies, she claims, adding, “I’m surprised at how many of these younger people are buying our mixes; they represent a really healthy group of our purchasers.”

Ingredients used in Snacktivist products include regionally grown cereal crops.

“We cultivate a business model that supports local farmers, local industries, and local families,” Kindwall-Moore says. “Our teff (grain) is grown on a family farm in Idaho, and our oats are grown by a farmer’s cooperative in Montana.”

She says Snacktivist plans to have 50 percent of its gluten-free grains sourced directly from local farmers by year-end and 100 percent by the end of 2018.

“The (local) farm-to-fork connection is central to our mission,” she says.

Snacktivist’s owners are looking to expand the company’s base beyond retail outlets to include bakeries and restaurants.

“We’re very interested in selling our products through food-service channels,” Kindwall-Moore says. “We’ve had a lot of interest from people in the food-service industry.”

Snacktivist has attracted some interest, she says, from Sysco Corp., the Houston-based multinational distributor of food products to hospitality, health care, and educational facilities, as well as other food service operations.

“We’ve been talking with their reps, and they have been very interested in our products,” Kindwall-Moore says.

Snacktivist’s marketing plans also include likely participation at the Northwest Foodservice Show next spring in Portland, Ore, she says. The event is attended by thousands of restaurant and food service industry professionals.

The couple hope someday to make Snacktivist their primary professional pursuit.

“We’d really like it to become our 100 percent focus,” Kindwall-Moore says. “As people in the health care field, you see a lot of illness that is related to diet. If you can help keep people healthier on the front end, boy, it would sure relieve a huge burden to our health care system.”

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