When New Zealand Kettle Korn directors Michael Howe and Trent Brock decided to launch a new flavour, they knew it needed to be something really special – and what better way to do that than collaborate with an award-winning chef.

2016 Restaurateur of the Year Michael Meredith didn’t disappoint, creating Mitey Cheese - an insanely delicious combination of (dairy free) savoury cheese with a bit of mite. It's a great combo on toast but even better on Kettle Korn!

“We knew consumers wanted unique flavour options and Michael Meredith was the perfect person for this, bringing creativity and expertise to the table,” said Howe and Brock.

The acclaimed chef, who also co-founded Eat My Lunch – the local initiative helping feed hungry Kiwi kids in need – describes the Mitey Cheese flavour as a “mouth-watering snack  with the perfect umami”.

The 110g Mitey Cheese bag (RRP $3.49) will be available from June 1 with plans to add to the Chef Inspired range in the future.

Continuing the successful partnership between NZ Kettle Korn and Eat My Lunch, for every new bag someone buys, NZ Kettle Korn will give another to the EML school lunch programme. This is in addition to a $20,000 annual donation and supplying product monthly.

Following consumer demand NZ Kettle Korn is adding a Sea Salt Multi Pack ($5.49) to the range at the same time as well.

“Our Sea Salt Kettle Korn is sugar free and has really been popular with more health conscious shoppers. It’s a perfect lunch box option,” said Howe and Brock.

All this comes at an exciting time for the company who recently launched the range in Singapore and is working on a request to supply in Thailand as well.

They have also partnered with distributor Wilson Consumer Foods and are confident their years of experience and strong relationships will help fuel growth for a long time to come.

But the pair insists some things will never change and they’re still operating with the same principles they started with six years ago as the first premium retail popcorn range in the country.

“We recognised that consumers were focusing on a cleaner ingredient list, quality and gourmet,” they say.

“We make small batch made products that are 100% NZ made with 100% NZ sourced ingredients, lab certified gluten, soy, dairy and peanut free and vegan/vegetarian friendly. These are all important points of differences to other options in the market.”

And it’s paying off, Aztec Data shows NZ Kettle Korn continues to experience strong double digit growth ahead of the overall category in both value and units year on year.

“It backs up what we knew all along, consumer choice is trending to healthier, gourmet snacking options,” say Howe and Brock.