Look out hummus, this dip wants to steal sales

Matt Joyce
Source: Matt Joyce

Would you ditch hummus for a dip made from garlic? That's what one food entrepreneur hopes you'll do.

"I think people are looking for an alternative to hummus," Matt Joyce, the creator of Toom, told CNBC.

Toom, a fluffy dip made from garlic, lemon juice, oil and salt, is Joyce's play on a traditional Lebanese sauce called toum. While toum is known for its potent garlic flavor, Toom has a more "commercialized" flavor, according to Joyce.

"Traditional Lebanese garlic sauce is super potent, like you really need to love garlic a lot and probably not talk to be people afterwards," he said. "We [spent] three years at the Minneapolis Farmers Market just sampling and trying to find the exact, right base profile balance between the garlic and the lemon for mass appeal."

Toom now has four variations — original, pesto, buffalo and chipotle honey — which will be sold at Hy Vee, Kowalski's and US Foods stores this summer.

Jenny Mahoney, deli director at Kowalski's Markets, called adding the product to the store's line up a "no brainer."

"Kowalski's is always looking for different, cutting edge, new types of items that will set the snack category apart from the hummuses," Mahoney said. "I think that people get sick of the same-old, same-old. They want a new veggie dip."

Millennials, in particular, gravitate toward new and unusual flavors and are responsible, in part, for the positive momentum of the chip and dip categories in the last five years, according to Mintel.

"Millennials are more adventurous when eating chips and dips, compared to older generations," according to a survey by Mintel published earlier this year. "They are least likely to eat the same types or flavors of these products, and most likely to eat products with nontraditional bases, such as Greek yogurt dips, or quinoa chips. Brands with innovative flavors or bases are likely to appeal to this generation."

Toom's unique flavor profile is one of the reasons markets like Kowalski's have embraced the product.

While the Minnesota-based grocery chain owns its own private label, which it has used to create its own variations of products like curry dip and cashew spread, it likely won't be working on its own version of the Toom dip any time soon.

"I've read all about how to make garlic sauce like [toum] and it looks easy, because it's only four ingredients, but it's hard," Mahoney told CNBC. "[Joyce] has mastered it and we get to tell his story… we love to help entrepreneurs, we love to help start-up companies."

Joyce spent three years perfecting flavor profile, consistency and shelf life of his dip, before it was ready for market. His first version of the product, called Gardip, preformed well on grocery shelves, but needed some fine-tuning, according to Joyce.

He rebranded the product Toom and created three variations of the original recipe.

"What Sabra does for hummus, they basically have their original hummus and they just kind of sprinkle different stuff on top to make different [flavors]," Joyce said. "I wanted to create flavors that are distinctly different tastes and also different use cases with food pairings."

Toom garlic dip
Source: Toom Dips

Joyce has stumbled on a rampantly growing industry. The chip and dip categories grew 7 percent between 2013 and 2015, reaching $16.4 billion last year, and are expected to continue growing as consumers continue snacking and begin to replace meals with snacks, according to Mintel.

Dips alone — salsa not included — saw growth of 26 percent in the last five years. The whole category is expected to grow another 20 percent by 2020.

"Only about 1 or 2 percent of people have tried this product category and I think a lot of them I've seen have loved it," Joyce said of his garlic dip. "So I think there is a lot of potential to disrupt and maybe steal sales from hummus."