Dream Pops set out to change the frozen novelty space with its low-calorie, plant-based pops — inspired by paletas of Latin American cuisine — and its poppable, chocolate-covered Dream Pops Bites.
Now, the company has set its sights on the confectionery arena, announcing plans to launch plant-based, shelf-stable confections next year and in 2023.
Candy Industry recently spoke to David Greenfeld, co-founder and CEO of Dream Pops, about his background in the CPG industry, the importance of plant-based food, and what’s next for Dream Pops.
CI: How did you get into the food space?
DG: My first exposure to the CPG industry came from two internships working for Jesse Itzler in 2010. At the time, Jesse had built 100MileGroup, a CPG brand accelerator that was a hybrid investor and forward-thinking marketing agency.
In addition to being the co-founder of Zico Coconut water, Jesse had other portfolio companies like HealthWarrior, Organic Avenue, Sheets Energy Strips, Voli Vodka, Good Bites, among others, and was using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach global audiences and build challenger brands.
I was able to witness the sale of Zico to Coca-Cola first hand, and fell in love with the idea of building cleaner, better-for-you food and beverage products for the masses. This seemed like an incredible way to build a career with a net net positive for consumers and investors.
CI: When did you begin conceptualizing Dream Pops? When did they hit the market?
DG: The initial spark for Dream Pops came after a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, where I saw paletas shops on every corner. I was really impressed by some of the frozen innovations coming out of the region and started to do some digging and market research on frozen confectionery products over the last 100 years. I also have one of the biggest sweet tooths on the planet, so I was genuinely fascinated about the category and history.
After quite a bit of time, I figured that there might be a massive opportunity in plant-based specifically – especially as I started to see the rising popularity of alt milks, alt meats and pressed juice. I wondered why nobody had really innovated on form factor, ingredients and design within the ice cream sector, and (I) eventually committed myself fully to launching a product in the space. I spent two years working for an investment bank in Milan, Italy, and quit my job in May 2017 and decided to bet on myself with my savings.
CI: What did/do you hope to accomplish with the Dream Pops brand?
DG: Our directional goal was to create a disruptive product in ice cream that was truly differentiated from the incumbents. The only way to do this was with unique technology and a product that other co-packers simply could not make. Our geodesic form factor was critically important and still is today. It serves as the brand language that allows us to stand apart in arguably one of the most competitive categories in F&B.
The only way to stay true to this was to build and commercialize our own ice cream factory and line, which took four years to fully accomplish. Additionally, we committed to using less than 10 ingredients, only coconut sugar (no alternative sweeteners or sugar alcohols), no gums, no stabilizers and a pouch for our packaging. Everything we do has to mirror our goal to do things differently.
CI: Why is it important to offer plant-based sweets to consumers?
DG: The world needs cleaner, better-for-you alternatives and plant-based products in the confectionery industry. When you look at the largest confectionery companies in the world – Hershey's, Mars, Ferrero, they offer very few 100 percent plant-based treats. Why is that the case? They haven't needed to innovate, yet consumers want alternatives to artificial flavors, sugar, high fructose corn syrup. I'm not saying that zero sugar is the solution. We are pushing for a real ingredient movement here. And while we started with frozen, we are excited to launch shelf stable and non-frozen candies that will increase our distribution online and in retail.
CI: How has the consumer response been to Dream Pops’ frozen desserts?
DG: The consumer response has been fantastic and further proves that the opportunity is there. Our first two products, the Dream Pop and the Dream Pop Bite, demonstrate our ability to build a platform in frozen. We've rationalized a few of our slower moving SKUs and replaced them with strong-performing flavors. We also only have five flavors of each product line. That is because we want to make data driven decisions and eliminate products that don't have long term promise.
CI: How have retailers responded?
DG: Retailers have been very receptive to Dream Pops. We have offered them a clean, great-tasting, differentiated frozen novelty alongside a unique digital strategy to ensure trial and hit specific velocities on shelf. We've doubled down on platforms like TikTok, Linkedin and Instagram and also have experimented with LTOs designed for our retail partners. We are working on strategies to drive consumers into their stores and are currently working on a few other Web3 strategies that we believe will continue to move the needle and differentiate us from competing brands.
CI: Why did you decide to move into the confectionery space?
DG: We've always wanted to be a confectionery player. But in the early days, people loved to bucket us into "a pop company.” The bites extension proved that we could incorporate chocolate into our products in a snackable format. Now, we are eager to prove that we do not need to be confined to the frozen set. We are excited about DTC and online opportunities. We want to get into more households and look forward to applying the same disruptive innovation to products that can sit next to the register.
CI: What confectionery items will become available next year? How will they differ from their traditional counterparts?
DG: We have not yet released this information but it will sit in the candy and confection aisle.
CI: Are there any other future plans for Dream Pops you can share?
DG: We have multiple confectionery products launching in 2022 and 2023. We will be launching our new website March 2022 alongside some of the new products. They will also be available at all of the trade shows we are attending (Sweets & Snacks Expo, Fancy Food etc.)