Episode 174: Josh Schroeter
Aug 04, 2021, Updated Aug 11, 2021
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Josh Schroeter is truly an entrepreneur at heart. After working as a TV reporter and journalist for years, he went head first into the food industry in 2004 after starting Sahale Snacks with his best friend. Focusing on innovation, the company truly reinvented the packaged nut and trail mix category. When they sold the company to Smuckers after 10 years, it was time for Josh to move to his next venture; bringing a one-of-a-kind sunflower seed to consumers in the United States.
After serving on the advisory board of a large sunflower seed company, who is now his competitor, CEO and Founder of South 40 Snacks, Josh Schroeter, started re-thinking how consumers view them. As a very basic snack food, sunflower seeds had not seen that much growth as it’s been dominated largely by two companies: Conagra and Frito Lays. Like with other seeds and fruits, there are different varieties, sizes, and grades of sunflower seeds; a factor the average consumer probably doesn’t realize.
“My passion as an entrepreneur is innovating and disrupting categories of snack foods.” – Josh Schroeter (05:35 – 05:41)
When living in Israel as a child, Josh knew of giant sized sunflower seeds that only grew there. As he got older, and began working in the food industry, he realized he couldn’t get them anywhere else. Aside from these seeds being much larger in comparison to normal sunflower seeds, they were much easier to crack with a higher payoff. This made the process of eating them more of an “activity”.
Starting as a bit of a hobby, Josh traveled to Israel to see if he could figure out the supply chain to get these massive seeds back to the States. From there, he began shipping containers of them over, and found a partner that could help roast and pack them. Thus, South 40 was born.
The brand strategy of freshness is a highlight of South 40. As consumers are looking for healthier options, South 40 is providing that with their unique seeds with only two ingredients: seeds and salt. Using brands like Wonderful as role models, Josh and South 40 are focused on making their snacks a premium product for consumers. Displaying them in the produce section at your local grocery store is a staple to that strategy and central to how they grow and differentiate the brand from others. Making them accessible to all is also important with a direct to consumer option available on their website.
It doesn’t stop at sunflower seeds with South 40. The company is also about to launch something special with raisins. If it’s anything like what they’ve done with sunflower seeds, it’s sure to be a must-have in your snack selection.
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