Gay Lea ventures into better-for-you snacking

The dairy co-op is using a broad array of tools to bring Ivanhoe Nothing But to life in grocery and convenience channels.

Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd--Gay Lea Foods Launches IVANHOE N

Gay Lea is using exhilaration and adrenaline to promote its first true adventure into the snacking aisle.

The Invanhoe “Nothing But” line of snacks are being launched with digital pre-roll and targeted OOH starting this summer and running into the fall, targeting people in urban condo areas of cities. Three 15-second spots celebrate outdoor lifestyles like hiking, kayaking and mountain biking. In-store floor displays will reinforce this message across major grocery banners: the dried cheese snacks are currently available in Shoppers Drug Mart and Sobeys, and will also be in Shell convenience locations, playing up the convenience factor.

Gay Lea will also launch an “Adventure Supply Company” activation with agency Chalkboard, bringing a mobile pop-up fashioned as a park ranger station to Ontario adventurers, complete with special supplies and product samples.nothing-but-gay-lea

The new line is based around Gay Lea’s Ivanhoe cheese brand and its “Nothing But Cheese” selection, one of the oldest such brands in Canada. The three-SKU portfolio of dried snacks have been relaunched and rebranded with the shortened “Nothing But,” which leaves it open to future product innovation, says Monika Giasson, product manager at Gay Lea Foods.

“We are not confined to refrigeration anymore, so let’s go into the dry aisle,” she says.

According to Giasson, its consumers told the co-op that they are looking for convenient, better-for-you snacking options that not only taste great, but allow them to stay fuller longer to help sustain their busy lifestyles. The dried cheese snack, which previously was seen more as part of a deli offering, offered an easy pivot.

“From a marketing standpoint, when I was looking at the category…adventurers are already used to pre-dried food and non-refrigerated elements,” she says. With a snack brand separate from Gay Lea, it can create its own new positioning, even while retaining the co-op’s core values.


Even more important for consumers right now is a strong desire to support local, Canadian-made products, Giasson says, with the back of pack calling out aspects of Canadiana, and Ivanhoe’s rich history in that regard.

Design Innovations is the packaging designer, and Gay Lea worked closely with it to make sure it stands out on snacking shelves, calling out the cheese aspect and the brand essence.

“Protein” was the number one on-pack callout, she says, a huge factor reaching out to the audience of better-for-you snackers. “Zero sugar, low carbs” also important to compete against U.S.-based dried cheese brands.

The launch has been in the works for a couple of years, and as people are venturing out again, and outdoors in particular, so the timing, Giasson says, was great.

“We are doing pre-roll videos and Instagram, and using geotargeting to target these consumers,” she says, showing up on weather apps, and being strategic to target healthy lifestyle consumers.

The official kick-off begins with a free outdoor adventure workshop at Humber River for a group of unsuspecting community members hosted by tripping experts, The Trip Shed. As part of a CSR move, Gay Lea will be making donations to The Boundless School, Project Canoe and Outward Bound Canada to help underserved youth experience the benefits of outdoor adventure.

Agency59 handled the online video, while Purpose Ink is doing PR.