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Solving the Night Snack Puzzle: Nightfood CEO Sean Folkson Talks Growth, Sleep, and a Billion-Dollar Opportunity

·8 min read

New York, New York--(Newsfile Corp. - July 28, 2021) - PCG Digital -- Nightfood (OCTQB: NGTF), the night snack company, is targeting the $50 billion Americans spend each year on snacks consumed between dinner and bed. Nightfood's award-winning sleep-friendly ice cream was formulated by leading sleep experts to support a good night's sleep for anybody snacking at night. Nightfood's recent results showcase a clean balance sheet, strong management team and key customer additions.

With our nation's sleep problems worsening, experts continue to explore the critical link between nutrition and sleep.

In March 2021, Unilever, the world's largest ice cream company, announced a year-long study to determine how diet and nutrition can be used to support better sleep for consumers around the globe. In April 2021, Nightfood expanded their retail footprint with placement in over 1,000 Walmart stores, bringing the total store count to just under 2,000 locations.

Recently, Nightfood CEO Sean Folkson discussed the growing consumer and market interest in the night snack category, sharing his insights on our love for late-night snacks, the company's growing distribution plans and the potential for other snack products down the road.


Hi Sean, can you share with us what motivated you to address the night snacking problem? Are you personally a big nighttime snacker?


I'm absolutely a big nighttime snacker…just about nightly. When I decided to launch Nightfood, I knew night snacking was a problem for me and many of the people I spoke to. But, we didn't have all the industry data and statistics we have now. We didn't have an understanding of WHY so many people snack at night or WHY humans, as a whole, are so likely to make bad choices at night and the impact those choices might have on our sleep…we know so much more now than back then. But what got me into this space was my personal nightly snacking.


The nighttime snacking category is gaining interest from some of the big conglomerates. Has this provided additional validation for what Nightfood is pioneering?


We believe that there's tremendous validation when Pepsi, or Unilever or Nestle say that they're looking at your space…that their research tells them that this is an important consumer problem, and that they see it as a possible key driver for future growth. I've been saying for years that the category is inevitable. There are just too many snackers, too many unhealthy choices, too much bad sleep, and too many people looking for better functionality from their foods…I believe that eventually all the global conglomerates will have to make a decision about this space.


Over 80% of Americans snack at night, and the most popular choices are things like ice cream, chips, and candy. Why is unhealthy night snacking such a hard habit to break?


While there is a habitual component to unhealthy night snacking, studies show that the key driving force behind the behavior is our biological hard-wiring. We're wired at night to load up on sweets and fats in case there's not enough food tomorrow, that's a throwback to our hunter/gatherer days. Most of us know that's not the best thing to do, but the other issue is that our willpower tends to be weakest as it gets later in the day. So that combination is what drives the behavior, and why this problem isn't going to just solve itself. It's biological cravings, driven by daily rhythms and hormones, combined with exhausted willpower. That's why people like me, and millions of others, struggle with this for years and decades on end.


Nightfood has been named the "Official Ice Cream" of the American Pregnancy Association. Can you tell us in your own words how that came about and why the APA has singled you out? Is this a market you plan to expand your offerings in?


We started seeing pregnant women posting about Nightfood on social media, and it got us thinking. Obviously pregnant women have unique nutritional needs, and we started researching to see if Nightfood was a good fit for their needs. Surprisingly, we discovered that many of the specific nutritional choices we made for better sleep were in line with the recommended nutrition for pregnant women: more fiber, more protein, less sugar, more calcium, more zinc. We reached out to the APA and they loved the idea of being able to introduce pregnant women to Nightfood. Existing research tells us that ice cream really is the #1 pregnancy craving, and expectant moms have to either indulge those cravings or fight them. The APA realized this is a better choice than traditional ice cream, other better-for-you ice creams, and the low-fat frozen yogurt that it seems every website and OBGYN used to recommend for pregnancy ice cream cravings.


Your ice cream is in freezers at almost 2,000 outlets in the U.S., including divisions of Walmart, Kroger, and Albertson's. Are you planning any additional distribution channels you can tell us about?


There are some new supermarket category reviews scheduled for later in summer and early fall, so it's premature to talk about that right now. What's really exciting right now is the hotel opportunity we have. We believe our sleep-friendly ice cream is a great fit in hotel freezers. We estimate there are 18,000+ hotels in the U.S. selling ice cream in the freezers of their lobby shops. Earlier this year, we began a retail pilot test with one of the leading global hotel brands. We expect a successful test could result in us rolling out quickly into thousands of hotels all across the country, so I'm very excited about that possibility.


After your recent fundraising round in April, your company now is debt free. You mentioned that you just completed your first fiscal year with over $1,000,000 in gross sales, which ended on June 30. What kind of growth do you project in this new fiscal year that started on July 1?


I do expect significant continued growth this year, but there are still too many variables for us to provide guidance or projections.


I read in a Yahoo Finance article earlier this month that Nightfood mentioned exploring new products. Are you working on other nighttime snacking alternatives or thinking about going into sleep-supporting beverages, like Driftwell?


Remember that we consider ourselves a snack company, not a sleep company or a sleep-aid company. Consumers spend over a billion dollars a week on snacks. Our job is to provide better snacks in place of the snacks that are already being consumed. If people think of us as an ice cream company, or as a sleep company, it means we didn't do a good enough job of communicating our point of view. Every night people are losing the battle with food, because of forces stacked against them. And when you lose that battle, and snack poorly, it can impair your sleep and that impacts just about every aspect of your life.

So our responsibility is to deliver snacks that are sleep friendly. That means less of the stuff that might impair or disrupt sleep, as well as ways in which our snacks support better sleep.

If we were ever to do a beverage, it would have to deliver nutrition, and be able to serve as a snack. So theoretically a shake or a smoothie might be in play at some point.

More likely would be a Nightfood expansion into additional snack formats…and, while we're always exploring, nothing has been formally announced at this time.


How big do you think the night snack market can become?


It's hard to predict how many people will move over to sleep-friendly snacking, but we do know approximately how much money is being spent on snacks consumed between dinner and bed. That estimate is over $50B annually, and that's based on data from IRI and Euromonitor. We know more and more consumers are looking for healthier snacks, more functional snacks, and better sleep. Based on our research and what we believe, I predict night snacks will be a billion-dollar category.

For more information on Nightfood visit nightfood.com


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