KANSAS CITY — While the biggest news in recent weeks may be that Campbell Soup Co. is investing $160 million in its manufacturing facility in Richmond, Utah, to ramp up output of Goldfish crackers by 50%, it is actions taken by smaller players in the crackers category that may prove to be a spark for segment growth.

Dollar sales in the crackers category in the 52 weeks ended July 16 totaled $9.41 billion, up 13% from the same period a year ago, according to Circana, a Chicago-based market research firm. Unit sales, though, fell 4.1% to 2.61 billion.

Unit sales may get a boost from several new products bringing a different look to the category.

Better-for-you foods company Simple Mills is launching Cheddar Pop Mmms, a line of snack crackers made from vegetable flour.

With a focus on sustainable agriculture , Pop Mmms are formulated with diversified crops such as organic butternut squash and organic red bean. The product offers a low-calorie snacking option at 120 calories per 50-cracker serving, according to the company, and joins a portfolio that includes crackers, cookies, baking mixes and bars.

“Our mission to advance people and planetary health starts with the ingredients we use, which is why we’re so passionate about using underrepresented crops that drive diversity,” said Katlin Smith, founder and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Simple Mills. “When we began the innovation process for Pop Mmms, we carefully selected diverse, nutritious ingredients that not only support our approach to revolutionary food design for people and planet, but also deliver on bold flavor and a light, airy texture that is irresistible.”

Pop Mmms are available at Whole Foods Market and online at Amazon.com.

“Free-from” also is playing a product development role in the crackers category.

Tukwila, Wash.-based Dare Foods’ brand Breton Crackers is adding two varieties to its line of gluten-free crackers.

The Non-GMO Project verified crackers are formulated from a combination of tapioca and green lentil flours, available in flavors like herb and garlic or flax and sea salt. Breton’s latest additions offer a cholesterol-free snacking option, with zero grams of saturated fat per serving, that pairs with cheeses, meats or spreads.

“Our goal is to offer delicious and good-for-you crackers to the growing number of consumers looking for gluten-free and plant-based products,” said Kat Palange, US marketing manager for Breton.

Meanwhile, Austin, Texas-based FitJoy, LLC, a maker of allergen-friendly and gluten-free snacks, is launching grain-free crackers. The crackers are allergen-friendly, gluten-free, Non-GMO certified, dairy-free and nut-free and will be available in three flavors: classic, white cheddar and pepper jack cheese.

The crackers became available nationwide on Aug. 1 for $5.99 to $6.49 per 8-oz box.

Another different take on the cracker category comes from Tempo Crackers, Los Angeles. A maker of snacks formulated with cannabis, Tempo Crackers in early May closed a new round of financing from manufacturing partner Punch Edibles to support the brand’s expansion beyond California into new markets.

Launched in 2020, Tempo Crackers were created as a savory option among the many sweet offerings in the cannabis snacks and edibles market, which reached $4 billion in legal sales last year. Each cracker is precisely dosed with specific ratios of cannabis compounds tetrahydrocannabinol  and cannabidiol  to deliver different effects, according to the company. Flavors include black pepper, chipotle honey, chili limon, rosemary sea salt and sour cream and onion, as well as new additions Buffalo cheddar, truffle Parmesan and salt and vinegar. The products are sold online and in dispensaries throughout the Los Angeles area.

“I grew up in the Texas snack belt, next to the headquarters of Frito-Lay, and spent my early life enthralled by the intense flavor profiles and out-of-this-world texture of modern snacks,” said Robert Holland, chief executive officer of Tempo Crackers and previously a strategy consultant in consumer products, supply chain and analytics. “I wanted to bring that same joy to the edible experience in California. With our range of flavor profiles and dosages, everyone can find the Tempo that’s right for them.”

Click to view new cracker products.