(CNN) — Goldfish is the latest brand trying to capitalize on the buzz around plant-based foods.
Campbell, which owns the snack brand, is launching a line of veggie Goldfish crackers in two flavors: sweet carrot and cheesy tomato. They'll be sold at select grocery stores, including Kroger, Walmart and Publix, starting on Jan. 1 and will be available nationally in March at a suggested retail price of $2.49 per package.
When you think of plant-based food products, you may think of alternatives to animal products, like the Impossible and Beyond burgers, or oat milk. But Kaylee Gill, a research chef for Campbell's snack division, is seeing an interest in vegetables more broadly.
"Since 2016, vegetables are really emerging within the fine dining space," Gill said. "Flash forward now to 2019, vegetables are everywhere," she added. "Not just in the protein section but within our ready-to-eat meals and beverages, and now in snacks as well."
As the trend spreads, parents have started to look for ways to introduce more vegetables into their children's diets, said Gill. But getting kids to want to eat vegetables is a "pain point," she noted.
Gill and her team considered several options, like broccoli and cauliflower, but landed on carrot and tomato flavors because they appeal to young palates. The carrot crackers are made with carrot powder, which is made from carrot juice concentrate and carrot puree, and the tomato ones are made with tomato paste powder.
The crackers include ingredients sourced from real carrots and tomatoes, in addition to wheat, oil, salt and other ingredients found in Goldfish snacks. The veggie versions "are not meant to replace veggies," said Gill, calling them a "better-for-you snack option."
The veggie crackers mark a first for Goldfish in the United States. But the company innovates frequently within the Goldfish brand. Today, you can buy about 30 variations of original Goldfish, including whole grain versions, ones made with organic wheat, indulgent flavors like fudge brownie Goldfish grahams and mixes with two types of Goldfish in one bag.
Snacks like Goldfish are important to Campbell, which is working to improve its soup sales.
The company recently reported that in the first quarter of the 2020 fiscal year, US soup sales fell 3% compared to the same period a year ago. Snack sales, on the other hand, grew 2%, thanks to products like Goldfish.
By responding nimbly to trends including plant-based foods, Campbell can help maintain interest in one of its most successful brands.
"We really try to keep ahead of culinary trends and stay up to date with them," said Gill.