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Healthy Alternative

Sep 1, 2008
by Judi Perkins

With the furor over obesity and 'super sizing' spurring a trend toward healthier food and portion control, Mister Snacks, Inc. is perfectly positioned to illustrate the definition of nutrition and value.

Though they sell through wholesale channels, ultimately the product is purchased by the consumer, and Mike Stern, President of Mister Snacks, recognizes that consumers are looking for healthier options. "Our products are more nutritional for anyone who is looking to eat something better than a candy bar or bag of chips. We have the highest quality nutritionally-geared snacks." Consequently, they have built something in for everyone. For consumers, it is nutrition. For resellers; profits. "It's a bigger ticket than a bag of chips," said Mike, "because it's nuts and dried fruits and things, and they cost more. So there is value for the end user, profit for the store and profit for the distributor."

Steve Stern, Mike's brother and VP of Sales, began Mister Snacks in 1978 by packaging straight items such as almonds and cashews. When he had an inspiration to implement mixes, it signaled the beginning of a successful company that now carries four lines: Sunbird Snacks, Stone Mountain, bulk sales and private label.

Sunbird Snacks, their high-end product which has seven lines, makes up 80 percent of their business. The most popular is the Big Bag line, a four-to six-ounce size which has over 70 varieties. "Big Bag has the best profit margins for everybody and sells better than any of the others," said Mike.

Stone Mountain, equally healthy and delicious, has a lower price point. The difference is not in the quality, but in the included items; for instance, fewer high-priced nuts and fruits, or no cashews. "Sunbird Snacks is more of a premium line than Stone Mountain," said Mike. "If the distributor cannot sell Sunbird Snacks, we can go with Stone Mountain, because it has a lower retail price."

The quality of their products is a priority, and Mike does most of the buying. "Over the years we have centered on the best suppliers, and developed a reputation in the industry for having the highest quality ingredients. We use U.S. products, but we also buy from bulk importers," said Mike. "We show the quality by using a clear bag."

Their wholesale website,, has been a wholesale/retail mix, but recent changes have entailed moving all retail aspects to a separate website. The redesigned is more comprehensive and is geared to segmented wholesale channels, product lines and product information. It will go live sometime this month.

"We have redesigned it so that a wholesale buyer can better see the different product lines, the racks and merchandisers, nutritional information, kosher certificates, etc. They have access to everything they need, such as suggested retail pricing, ingredients, best selling items and so on," said Mike.

The site now functions as a catalogue and information provider. "It displays the product line, and then all the sidelines," said Mike. "For instance, under Sunbird Snacks, it will say 'Big Bag line'; then 'Party line'; then 'Snack line' (which is a smaller, less expensive line with lower points). Then there is a premium line that has cashews, pistachios, roasted almonds, fine chocolate and dark chocolate almonds; and a gourmet line for gift basket people."

There is no shopping cart, so that Mister Snacks may provide purchasing guidance. "We want to center in on what is going to sell for them. We want to hear who their customers are because we know what sells to whom, and where and what sells in what geographic area," said Mike.

Retailers are 15 percent of their business; brokers and distributors are 65 percent. Steve Letourneau, National Sales Manager, explains, "For a wholesaler, our minimum order is 100 twelve-count cases. We will ship as few as three, but we try to work through resellers. They are closer to the retailers, and can get the products in the stores more quickly." Private label and bulk sales make up the other 25 percent. Wholesale prices vary depending on the product, the size of the order and the part of the country to which it is going. Recommended markup depends on the wholesaler's desired price points.

"Our philosophy" asserts Mike, "is to offer our customers a way to offer their customers a healthy, high quality, alternative snack line, and to show them exactly what it consists of. That way there is no question about its quality. The clear bags show that in addition to raisins, peanuts, and sunflower seeds, there are also almonds, pecans, and beautiful fruits like mangoes and cranberries."

Steve Stern emphasized their commitment to quality. "We stand behind our product 100 percent. We have a respected name throughout the industry."

Minimum order: For wholesalers, the minimum order is 100 cases of twelve. For retailers, the minimum order is $30.00.

For more information:
Mister Snacks, Inc.
500 Creekside Drive
Amherst, NY 14228
Tel: 716-691-1500
Toll Free: 800-333-6393
Fax: 716-210-1010
Email: please use form on website

Topic: Company Profiles

Related Articles: food  grocery 

Article ID: 729

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