Case Studies • Pop Weaver
Pop Weaver® Pops to the Top in Healthy Snacking
For more than 80 years, Weaver Popcorn Company, Inc. has provided America and the world with one of the all-time favorite snack foods — popcorn. The family-owned and led company has expanded significantly from the days when founder Ira Weaver sold popcorn from a single horse-drawn wagon; Weaver now provides about 30% of the world’s popcorn with their Pop Weaver and Trail’s End® brands.
Since popcorn is their only product, Weaver Popcorn constantly strives to make the best-tasting, healthiest popcorn at the lowest possible price. It had been nearly 20 years since the last better-for-you popcorn innovation, "low fat" popcorn, was introduced, and Weaver Popcorn was looking for a revolutionary solution that would enhance taste and functionality, while making their oil blend healthier. Other popcorn manufacturers removed trans fats by using palm oil or substitutes, which dramatically increased saturated or "bad" fats. Weaver Popcorn searched for a different solution — and found the answer through collaboration with the Omega-9 Solutions Team at Dow AgroSciences, which provided application development insights, analytical support and commercial expertise. Together, Weaver Popcorn and the Omega-9 Solutions Team developed healthier versions of Pop Weaver’s signature microwave flavors: Butter, Extra Butter and Light Butter. These improved formulations entirely replaced the existing product line. The enhanced popcorn features Omega-9 Canola Oil, which provides zero trans fat, significantly reduced saturated fat and is uniquely high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
"Popcorn itself is a naturally healthy whole grain and with Omega-9 Canola Oil, we found a way to deliver the great buttery taste in a healthier manner," said Mike Weaver, President and CEO, Weaver Popcorn Company, Inc. "With most ‘healthy’ snacks, you typically have to give up flavor, but our new microwave popcorn really is the best of all worlds."
Just like butter and popcorn, the partnership between Dow AgroSciences and Weaver Popcorn is a delicious combination. Weaver Popcorn is thrilled with how the Omega-9 Solutions Team helped their business "pop up."
Weaver believes in "Flavor First," so delivering the rich, buttery taste Pop Weaver is known for was a critical benchmark during product development. In internal tests, the Pop Weaver products with Omega-9 Canola Oil were perceived to have significantly better butter flavor than not only the current Pop Weaver but also key competitor products. Weaver conducted research with the most discriminating popcorn eaters across the country — and kept making improvements until those consumers were satisfied. Omega-9 Canola Oil helped contribute to the improved taste because it has a lower melting point than competitive palm or soybean oil, so the butter flavor spreads more evenly throughout the whole bag of popcorn.
By shifting to Omega-9 Canola Oil, Pop Weaver products increased the amount of "good fats"— monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease — while decreasing the amount of "bad fats" — saturated and trans fat. Popcorn naturally is a good source of fiber and antioxidants. Together, the Pop Weaver popcorn kernels and their new Omega-9 Canola Oil combine for a delicious snack that is significantly lower in total fat, saturated fat and calories.
The improvement in the nutritional profile for Pop Weaver’s microwave popcorn was so significant that two varieties — Butter and Light Butter — now carry the American Heart Association’s Heart Check Mark — a first for the microwave popcorn category.
As an industry leader, Weaver Popcorn took the initiative to research and develop healthier alternatives and new product formulations with the Omega-9 Solutions Team at Dow AgroSciences. Unlike other solutions the Pop Weaver brand had been exploring, Omega-9 Canola Oil met shelf life targets, so all processing changes are seamless to consumers. Popcorn lovers will notice no change to their favorite Pop Weaver flavor — other than lower numbers on their nutritional facts panel. Investments to change their production facility and process were required, but Weaver Popcorn feels the investment is right for their business and their consumers.