Butterkist sister brand Vibe, coconut & cacao and strawberry variants

Butterkist maker Tangerine Confectionery is set to add a premium popcorn brand called Vibe to its portfolio, made with healthier, on-trend ingredients like coconut and ancient grains.

The sharing NPD will feature air-popped corn coated with honey and topped by “feel-good” ingredients in three variants: Strawberry, Coconut & Cacao, and Sweet & Salted Ancient Grains (rsp: £1.99/160g).

With its premium, healthier positioning, the Vibe brand marks a significant step away from Tangerine’s indulgent Butterkist options.

The popcorn market was divided into “two very distinctive worlds” of treat and health, said Anjna Mistry, senior brand manager at Tangerine. Butterkist had traditionally fallen into the former, while healthier brands typically focused on keeping calories low. In contrast, the higher-calorie Vibe was geared at “holistic” wellbeing through natural ingredients. “There’s nobody doing what we’re doing under this brand.”

Development of the Butterkist sister brand started 18 months ago “at the grassroots of understanding the consumer”, said Mistry. “The desire was always to understand the gaps in the market and to stretch the Butterkist brand to fill those gaps.”

Consumer penetration of popcorn was at about 47%, and Vibe would “have a positive impact on that number”, she added. Its launch would be backed by a “significant, fully integrated” campaign later in the year, but wouldn’t trade on Butterkist’s success. “We want to move things forward,” said Mistry.

News of the NPD comes soon after Butterkist was given a fresh look on the back of value sales up 4.6% to £32.7m [Nielsen 52 w/e 15 October 2016]. But the brand’s future ownership remains uncertain, with Tangerine’s owner Blackstone having appointed corporate advisers at Stamford Partners last year to find a buyer for Butterkist.