If there’s one snack Americans love, it’s chips and dip. But more than a few snackers would be turned off if they found a big bowl of hummus next to their tortilla chips. That’s because 80 million people in the U.S. have no idea the popular Mediterranean chickpea dip even exists. Over the last few years the food company Sabra has been trying to change that fact by making hummus more accessible to American palettes. After all, with only 26 percent of households regularly buying hummus, Sabra’s untapped market share of U.S. snackers could be immensely profitable in the future.
For much of its existence, Sabra was happy to concentrate on hummus-loving markets like New York and Florida to drive its business. However, a 2007 takeover by PepsiCo saw Sabra’s products suddenly stocked across the country. The company realized that Americans would need to be properly informed about this new product if they were ever going to branch out and try it. “It’s tough to pronounce, even,” said Sabra CEO Ronen Zohar. “What is it? Chickpeas? Who wants to eat chickpeas?”
To increase awareness, Sabra launched a fleet of six trucks to roam the country distributing hummus to people in cities like Phoenix and Milwaukee. Many customers are wary of the unfamiliar dip—Sabra says that one woman who expected hummus to be rock hard was stunned when her chip didn’t break in half as she dipped it. Despite some apprehension, though, Sabra says the trucks have been a success. More than 70 percent of people who sample hummus at a Sabra truck will purchase some within 60 days. The company has also branched out with its flavors in order to attract more customers. Varieties like spinach-and-artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and chipotle hummus are meant to draw Americans in with more familiar flavors. Sabra claims these efforts have increased the company’s presence in households by more than 118 percent.
- What’s the major benefit of Pepsi’s takeover of Sabra?
- What are the chances of hummus becoming a major U.S. snack staple?
Source: Jason Feifer, “80 Million Americans Have Never Heard of Hummus,” Fast Company, April 2014. Photo by Albertas Agejevas.