Calbee America : Harvest the Power of Nature

Scarlett BurkeLily Sawyer
Scarlett Burke - Head of Projects Lily Sawyer - Senior Editor
Calbee product display and picnic
At A Glance
  • Calbee America has introduced a growing selection of Asian-inspired snack products to the US over the years, including Shrimp Chips, JagaRico, Takoyaki Ball, My Pote, and Jagabee.
  • As it continues to grow across the US, Calbee America is determined to maintain its strong grasp on both the North American and Asian snacking markets.

Dedicated to providing North America with delicious snacks containing the best and most natural ingredients since 1966, Calbee America emerges today as one of the nation’s largest snack brands.

HARVEST THE POWER OF NATURE

With a long-standing history of excellence, Calbee America is proud to be a major part of the global Calbee brand.  

Initially founded in Japan in 1949, Calbee quickly grew to become the country’s largest snack food company.  

Soon after, in 1966, the brand was launched in North America as one of the region’s very first Asian snack companies, with Calbee America first appearing in Hawaii before quickly gaining popularity nationwide. 

1970 saw Calbee America introduce Shrimp Chips to US audiences, which is now widely enjoyed in the country due to its savory, umami flavor.  

Further to this, Calbee America’s flagship brand, Harvest Snaps, is currently enjoyed in 14 million households and counting across the US and Canada. Made from natural, plant-based ingredients, Harvest Snaps truly encapsulates the company’s mission to harvest the power of nature and offer consumers a guilt-free, healthy snack option.  

As it continues to grow across the US, Calbee America is determined to maintain its strong grasp on both the North American and Asian snacking markets.   

EVOLVING PALATES

Citing subtle changes in the nation’s palate to a broader range of Asian flavor profiles, Calbee America has introduced a growing selection of Asian-inspired snack products to the US over the years, including Shrimp Chips, JagaRico, Takoyaki Ball, My Pote, and Jagabee.  

More recently, the brand has expanded the distribution of its Asian snacks into mainstream US grocery and convenience stores. This aligns with a general rise in demand for Asian flavors, which can be observed in the recent widespread uptake of food items from the region such as sushi and ramen.   

As such, Calbee America is able to offer these products across Asian supermarkets in North America, such as HMart and Mitsuwa Marketplace, alongside major US stores such as Costco and Walmart.  

The widespread availability of these snacks in the US is also in response to an increase in the country’s Asian population seeking brands that they recognize from their childhood. In this way, Calbee America has capitalized on a growing market. 

At the same time, the company has noted a prominent rise in the nation’s healthy snack category of late, a movement that its flagship brand, Harvest Snaps, is ideally placed to cater for across the US as a nutritious fruit and vegetable-dense option.  

Alongside its broad range of Asian snack options, Calbee America therefore arguably monopolizes today’s US snack market and continues to benefit from a robust business model that capitalizes on emerging trends.  

Happy family with laptop eating chips

STREAMLINING US DISTRIBUTION

To effectively distribute its vast range of snack products across North America, especially those manufactured overseas, Calbee America operates through a highly efficient logistics and supply chain network.   

In January 2023, having faced considerable challenges such as supply chain shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company made the executive decision to introduce in-house inventories for its Asian products at two of its US warehouses.  

Prior to this, many of Calbee America’s Asian snacks came from overseas and were supplied to supermarkets across the US by a single national distributor.  

As this was no longer logistically viable due to the company’s expansion, Calbee America elected an external distributor to supply the nation’s Asian supermarkets, whilst the company itself handled shipping to domestic stores.  

As such, Calbee America benefits from optimal operational and logistical efficiencies. One point of contact presides over the distribution of the company’s Asian snack products, and another over its domestic brands, meaning one salesperson manages each account and a dedicated distribution arm supplies each store.  

By streamlining its supply chain and logistics, Calbee America has been able to remain at the top of its game as it continues to expand.  

CONTINUOUS PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Innovation and product development play a big part in defining Calbee as a competitive global brand.  

Founder Takashi Matsuo was deeply passionate about R&D, which today forms an integral part of the company’s corporate DNA.  

In this way, a dedicated R&D team in Japan is focused on continuous product development such as the ongoing evolution of JagaRico to include new flavors, sizes, and packaging options throughout the years.  

In addition, the brand’s acute awareness of varying international market preferences enables it to cater to different tastes across the numerous destinations it serves.  

For example, research indicates that US consumers generally seek spicier, heavily seasoned snack products, whilst the Japanese market tends to prefer more subtle flavors.  

By understanding such minute market preferences, Calbee has been able to uniquely tailor its products for different international audiences, ensuring it continues to remain a first-choice snack brand for all.  

An awareness of the rising demand for brand transparency has also led to Calbee America rebranding its Harvest Snaps Selects to Harvest Snaps Crunchy Puffs to better represent the line’s identity as a plant-based snack.  

At the same time, the company has recently released a line of freeze-dried fruit, such as sliced apples, strawberries, grapes, and bananas, to align with growing demand amongst parents in the US for healthier snacks for their children.  

A BRIGHT FUTURE

As it continues to grow, Calbee America anticipates great things on the horizon, especially given the impact social media and globalization have had on the Calbee brand.   

In the 2023 Japanese fiscal year alone, the Harvest Snaps family increased its social media following by 12 percent, whilst the overall Calbee brand grew by a staggering 207 percent.  

Calbee America’s strategy for future growth includes continuing to develop its domestic healthy snack brands and products, such as Harvest Snaps, whilst maintaining its strong grasp on the US Asian snack market by introducing novel flavors and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. 

From its national production facilities in California and Mississippi, the company plans to continue to launch new products, flavors, and co-manufacturing facilities across the US.   

Thus, Calbee America will continue to capitalize on its burgeoning success as a recognized brand as well as its US customers’ thirst for new and unique snacks.

CALBEE AMERICA PARTNER

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By Scarlett Burke Head of Projects
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Scarlett Burke sources the collaborations with business leaders, brands, and C-suite executives that feature in Food & Beverage Outlook Magazine. Scarlett is actively seeking collaborations for future editions.
By Lily Sawyer Senior Editor
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Lily Sawyer is an in-house writer for Food & Beverage Outlook Magazine, where she is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.