PLANT POPS: Indian Snacks, Made From Popped Lotus Seeds

Early indicators suggest that lockdown has encouraged a new breed of inquisitive, health conscious snackers to forage ever more enthusiastically online for NEW permissible gluten-free snacks that marry moreish taste and textures with an earnest commitment to low calorie, ‘food minority’ interests. 

One would think that a billion people can’t be wrong, and yet in the UK, nostalgia tied to popcorn and potato chips has made it historically hard for India’s leading nibble to secure a meaningful foothold in Europe’s snacking capital.  

Yet, with City offices being forced to close, in March, coupled with supermarkets initially having to slim down their non-mainstream offerings, to free up space for more everyday essentials, Plant Pops‘ Amazon sales grew by a staggering 545%, before stabilising at a highly respectable +110%.

Anushi Desai’s used to work as a KMPG Management Consultant, working for a variety of banks and financial institutions.  

She noted how a lot of her colleagues snacked a lot but were bored stiff by all the ‘usual suspect’ offerings. Anushi began making popped lotus seed snacks at home, for her colleagues and friends, creating flavours (Peanut Butter, Smoked Chilli, and Himalayan Salt) that were tuned to Western taste buds. 

The response was so good that Anushi felt there was an under-explored opportunity to create a tasty, health-conscious alternative to popcorn, in sweet and savoury formats.

Having grown up in India, I wanted to create a disruptive UK business that provided this traditional super seed with a discerning Western twist, because our light-to-bite popped lotus seeds provide the perfect crunchy setting for any number of sweet and savoury flavours to shine.” 

Anushi Desai, Co-founder of Plant Pops

Anushi was adamant that production should be moved to an Indian factory, to both maintain the authenticity factor and make an unflinching commitment to create jobs. They also commit 5% of bottom line profits to the Action Village charity, that supports farmers and their families in Bihar (the region where lotus seeds are sourced).

The vibrant demand for health-driven products had certainly begun long before lockdown, however there’s no doubt that a growing enthusiasm to encourage weight loss and jettison any unnecessary calories whilst safeguarding the nation’s deep-rooted snacking traditions; bolstered the popularity of popped lotus seeds, which are seen by many as a more worldly and nutritious popcorn. 

Naturally World Cuisine remains a very upbeat trigger point, broadening flavour horizons whilst reminding us of those fantastical, far-flung holidays and trips that currently seem like a distant memory. 

“The future looks very bright with a spate of new trade enquiries coupled with an accelerated second wave of new product innovation that will be coming down the line over the coming weeks and months.  That said, in the short-term it’s our core product’s willingness to contest both sides of the flavour divide, (sweet & savoury) which has seen sales of all three core lines (but especially peanut butter) soar. A growing appetite for better for you, gluten-free snacks must never mean dialling down one’s enthusiasm for involving flavours and intriguing textures (think of rice cake meets popcorn).

Anushi Desai, Co-founder of Plant Pops

You can find them in Urban Outfitters, Harvey Nichols, Compass and on Amazon.

You can find out more about Plant Pops here.