Perhaps best known for its association with quirky terracotta figurines, chia is quickly making its way into the diets of health-conscious consumers.

And the growing popularity of chia is fueling new sponsorship activity.

Chia-based beverage, cereal and snack brands are signing new deals to build visibility and educate consumers about the health benefits of the flowering plant.

Recent deals range from sports and music events to athlete endorsements. Demonstrating the product’s growing fondness for sponsorship, The Chia Co. recently signed the category’s largest deal: a three-year sponsorship of the USTA US Open.

The Australia-based company also is partnering with roughly 150 U.S. grassroots events this year as part of the Chia Pod mobile marketing tour.

Other companies also have embraced sponsorship. Mamma Chia this year partnered with the Vans Warped Tour presented by Journeys while Health Warrior sponsored the June 21 Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge Hosted by New York Outrigger race on  behalf of its eponymous chia bars.

The popularity of chia is demonstrated by soaring sales. Sales of products with chia seeds and chia oil rose 95 percent to $147.2 million in the year ended July 13, according to SPINS, a market research firm that specializes in the natural, organic and specialty products industries.

Using Tennis To Build Global Visibility
The Chia Co. partnered with the US Open to gain global exposure for Chia Pods, a year-old line of “energy boosting” breakfast products. The cereal features a mix of chia seeds, fruit and coconut milk.

“The US Open is a natural fit for us because tennis is a global and aspirational sport both played and watched all over the world,” said April Halliwell, Chia Co. CMO. The tennis tournament kicks off today and runs through Sept. 8.

Tennis also provides access to health-conscious athletes in need of sustained energy.

“Several player such as Novak Djokovic adopt gluten free diets so chia can be a really beneficial source of gluten free energy for them.”

The sponsorship affords on-site sampling and camera-visible exposure on Chia Pod coolers in Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The Chia Co. activated the tie with an on-pack promotion that dangled a trip to New York City and tickets to the tournament.  

Cereal is a hot segment in the chia category. Dollar sales of cold cereal rose 212 percent in the year-ended July 14, according to SPINS.

The Chia Co. is promoting Chia Pod at the grassroots level with a national sampling tour. The Chia Pod tour this year will visit 150 events across 30 states including last weekend’s Afro Punk Fest in Brooklyn, N.Y. and the Aug. 26 Buck-i-Frenzy welcome week event at The Ohio State University.  

And additional deals may be in store.

“We will continue to seek opportunities to help us evolve our brand around the world.”

Sales In The Chia Seed/Oil Category

Sales In The Chia Seed/Oil Category
SPINSscan Natural (proprietary), SPINScan Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI)