New Hope Network is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sitemap


Articles from 2020 In November


The Analyst’s Take: What will the supplement industry look like in 2021?

Claire Morton

As we enter the final month of 2020, the supplement industry has certainly emerged as a bright spot in a particularly rocky year. While Nutrition Business Journal will finalize industry estimates for the year in the coming months, industry growth did hit double digits this year for the first time since 1997, with current estimates being 12.1% growth and $54.5 billion in sales.

What is not so certain is the impact that COVID-19 trends will have in 2021 and beyond. Here are some of the key questions I’m hearing from the industry right now: Will consumers who started purchasing supplements during the pandemic continue to do so? Will they branch out into new categories? How will the market stabilize after a year of double-digit growth? Will interest in supplements wane once a vaccine becomes available?

When NBJ released its supplement market overview numbers in June of 2020, it projected a normalization of the growth curve in the coming years to 6% in 2021 and 3% in 2022. However, there is no indication of reaching a decline in sales right now. In fact, NBJ has consistently predicted a permanent lift to the industry, settling in 2023 at nearly $1.4 billion larger than pre-COVID forecasts. But the answers, or at least suspected answers, to the questions above will help shape and redefine NBJ’s projections for 2021 and beyond.

New Hope Network consumer survey research has indicated that even in the most optimistic pandemic scenarios the majority of consumers who use supplements plan to continue to use the same amount, if not increase their use. In this same survey consumers were asked to describe their future supplement usage in a scenario where “an effective COVID-19 vaccine becomes available and is mass-produced and widely distributed within the United States sometime in the next 6 to 12 months.” Twenty-one percent of consumers reported they expect increased supplement usage, 78% expect no change in supplement usage and only 2% forecast a decrease in usage.

It is no question that 2020 has permanently shifted consumers' health consciousness. The post-pandemic world will represent a new normal, and NBJ expects that the nutrition industry will continue to thrive in this new normal. Based on everything we have seen thus far in 2020 and the little that we do know about the years to come, we are truly optimistic, not just for the sales that will come in but for the long-term impact in terms of how consumers are thinking about their health.

nutrition business journal logo Since 1996 Nutrition Business Journal has guided decision makers in the nutrition and health wellness space in developing their strategy, understanding trends, realizing opportunity and analyzing potential risks. Subscribe to NBJ here.

5@5: Black Friday online sales break all-time record | Whole Foods CEO slams socialism

Getty Images black friday ipad

Black Friday 2020 online sales break all-time record

Adobe Analytics has revealed that Americans spent a whopping $9 billion this year on retail websites for Black Friday. Consumers spent an average of $27.50 each, and both small and large retailers benefited from the surge. Experts say Cyber Monday sales are expected to reach between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion. See more of the sales data breakdown at The Food Institute ...

Whole Foods CEO rails against socialism, says 'Capitalism is the greatest thing humanity's ever done'

John Mackey said late last week that colleges' and progressives' attacks on capitalism are unfounded and all attempts to create a socialist economy are bound for failure. He went on to advocate for conscious capitalism as the happy place between generating revenue and serving communities. Newsweek expands on Mackey's counter-critique of socialism.

Study finds 1% of farms own 70% of world's farmland

A new study out of the Land Inequality Initiative makes the groundbreaking discovery that just 1% of farms control over 70% of farmland on a global scale. This has devastating consequences on both the economic and environmental fronts. Moving forward, the group stated that redistribution of land, increased taxation on the top landowners and more regulation regarding who and what can own land will be necessary to level the playing field. Head to Modern Farmer for more.

SNAP caseloads and benefits are breaking historical records—and it’s still not enough, say hunger advocates

More American households than ever are food insecure, and those numbers have translated to the total caseload for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (it's up by 14% according to recent data). But the program's expanded benefits and safety net programs are about to expire in the new year, and some officials are consequently calling to double the $60-billion program's funding to make real, sustained change. The Counter reports.

How hearing no taught Pipcorn's founders to fight for their business

After having an investor leave them in the lurch after several months of believing they were about to receive a hefty cash transfusion, Pipcorn's founders carved a unique fundraising path and learned to advocate for their business in the process. Here, Forbes interviews co-CEO Terasa Tsou, who believes that receiving a "no" from potential partners is actually a blessing in disguise; it isn't the best idea to have anyone involved who doesn't truly believe in the entrepreneur's vision. 

US consumers eat dairy alternatives at home, meat analogues at restaurants

Getty Images alternative nondairy milks

When it comes to eating plant-based foods, consumers are definite in terms of which of them they want to eat at home and which they want to eat from a restaurant or foodservice outlet, finds The NPD Group.

About 93% of meals or snacks that include milk alternatives are consumed at home and 7% are at/from a restaurant or foodservice outlet. But when it comes to meat analogues, restaurants and other foodservice outlets have the largest share of eating occasions at 78% while at home represents 22%, according to NPD's Eating Patterns in America, an annual compilation of the company's ongoing food and foodservice market research. 

"Consumers eat more plant-based meat analogues from restaurants because these foods are prepared in the same way animal protein menu items are, which means the consumer isn't sacrificing taste for what they believe to be a healthier option. It would be challenging to replicate the same taste at home," says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "Dairy alternatives, on the other hand, are an at home choice because these beverages and foods are convenient as a ready-to-drink beverage or to use as an ingredient." 

Although drinking dairy milk at home is still a larger behavior, consumption of dairy alternatives in home is penetrating the market at a rapid pace. Consumers are choosing to drink milk alternatives, such as almond milk, rather than dairy-based milk. Contributing factors to this growth is the health halo that plant-based foods have and the desire of some consumers to cut down on dairy in their diets. Still, many consumers drink both cow's milk and milk alternatives. 

Plant-based meat analogues at restaurants are no longer just veggie burgers. In addition to beef, there are analogues for poultry, seafood and pork. Although plant-based meat analogues grew by double the growth of meat, poultry and seafood at foodservice, the volume represents only 1% of the pounds of meat, poultry and seafood shipped by broadline foodservice distributors to restaurants and other foodservice outlets. 

"Consumers see plant-based alternatives as healthier options to their traditional counterparts," says Seifer. "Plant-based beverages and foods are growing and gaining loyalty. These products still represent a small share in the categories in which they compete, but do give consumers more options to consider."

Source: The NPD Group

Consumer survey shows sustained online grocery shopping habits across generations

Getty Images online-shopping.png

Shoppers who have turned to online grocery ordering during the pandemic aren’t changing course any time soon. A new survey from Oracle Grocery Retail shows that 53% of U.S. respondents have shopped online for groceries during COVID-19, and a whopping 93% of those surveyed say they plan to do so after the pandemic, with 74% noting they’ll order at the same pace or even more than they currently are going forward. And it’s not just young people. The survey found that 72% of Gen X respondents (defined as those ages 40 through 54) led the way with online ordering, and the share of online Boomer shoppers (age 55+) soared 173%.

Home delivery is one especially hot area, with 72% of consumers opting for this service. Just 13% order online to pick up in store and 15% order online to pick up their groceries curbside.

“So many trends that were already in motion have been greatly accelerated by the pandemic,” says Bob Burke of Natural Products Consulting LLC, adding that many will remain long after the pandemic is behind us. “All the elements of online, like direct-to-consumer, home delivery and curbside pickup, will be elevated and part of the normal mix of how brands and retailers will intersect with consumers.”

Some good news for retailers who offer store brands is that private label is growing in the pandemic. Oracle’s survey found that 86% of shoppers explored store-owned brands and private label alternatives during the pandemic, and just 20% plan to go back to preferred brands. "The surge in private label purchases has become the unexpected silver lining of COVID-19 for grocers," said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Retail, in a statement. "Consumers uninterested in trying something new were forced to branch out due to shortages and now plan to stick with their new finds. This allows grocers an opportunity to increase brand affinity with customers and, in turn, their margins."

If you ask Burke, this may not be enough and independent retailers who haven’t yet started to move at least some of their services online need to tackle the learning curve, understand what investments need to be made and shift online where it makes sense for their customers and store.

“The reality is that consumers’ expectations around convenience, service and instant gratification, as well as product knowledge, transparency in sourcing and value, is going to keep evolving,” he says. “Smart retailers need to be tuned into this and generally open to adapting, consistent with their values, their brand and their resources.”

5@5: US adult obesity rate surpasses 40% | Family of deceased Publix employee sues chain

Getty Images obesity-scale.jpg

Annual report shows no downturn in prevalence of obesity in the US

An alarming new report out of Trust for America's Health reveals that America's adult obesity rate has hit 42.4%, marking the first time the figure has exceeded 40%. This means the national adult obesity rate is up 26% compared to data from 2008, and childhood obesity is following a similar trend. Food Politics points out the clear link here between food insecurity, which is also on the rise, and obesity rates.

Family of a Publix employee allegedly not allowed to wear mask is suing the chain for his death

Seventy-year-old father of four Gerardo Gutierrez asked his employer, Publix, if he could wear a mask at the start of COVID-19 pandemic. His family says the company declined this request. Then, three weeks after exhibiting symptoms of the deadly virus April 6, Gutierrez died. Now his adult children are suing the supermarket chain for $30,000 in damages and setting a precedent for many other grieving families of retail and meatpacking workers whose lives were placed below profit. Eater has the full story.

Bernie Sanders stands with Amazon warehouse workers

It's no surprise that Senator Bernie Sanders is in favor of workers obtaining decent wages and safe workplace conditions through unionizing. His latest statement of this nature came in support of employees at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama, who recently filed notice with the National Labor Relations Board. Amazon has historically gone to great lengths to suppress unionization efforts; for instance, it has fired and smeared its workers who were vocal about the company's questionable policies and actions. Common Dreams reports.

Austin-based Whole Foods Market gets an F for wasteful plastic

Environment Texas Research & Policy Center, TexPIRG Education Fund, and other nonprofits have banded together to urge the Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market to cut down on its single-use plastic packaging. While the company was one of the first to get rid of plastic bags at checkout, it has lagged in this area in recent years according to activists. Get the scoop at Culture Map ...

Sesame may finally get official recognition as one of our most common allergens

The House of Representatives has passed a bill to add sesame to the official list of major allergens. Besides forcing companies to add it alongside a food allergy warning on packaging, the move would also expand research into allergy treatments and allow the Food and Drug Administration to add other ingredients to this list as long as they meet certain criteria. The Counter delves into the federal action surrounding sesame over the past few years.

3 essential keynotes from virtual expo Spark Change

Natural Products Expo Spark Change

In a year of heretofore unseen changes, a little inspiration can go a long way. Over the past several months, Spark Change has provided a virtual platform for inspiration driven by a series of keynote addresses centered on some of the most pressing and relevant themes affecting the natural products industry today.

These themes—Mission-driven Business, Modern Health and Organic and Regenerative—served as the focal points of the three community events that took place during the online trade show. The community events created both a space for deep inspiration and the sense of community that is so important to our industry.

For those that may have missed these talks or who wish to watch them again, it’s still possible to head over to the Spark Change platform for a reprise. Not yet registered for Spark Change? It’s not too late to register here.

In the meantime, below are synopses of three keynote talks that are already helping Spark Change in the natural products industry.   

Mission-Driven Business

Tom Szaky TerraCycle

During his empassioned keynote,Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of TerraCycle, emphasized the importance of committing to sustainable packaging solutions as a business—whether on the retail, manufacturing, distribution or consumer front—in a talk centered on “Eliminating the idea of waste.”

Modern Health

Kate Geagan Keynote

Nutrition pioneer and award-winning dietitian Kate Geagan of Kate Geagan Sustainable Nutrition has spent much of her career studying the intersection of human health and nutrition, good food and how we can transform our food system to be more sustainable and regenerative on a daily basis. In her fascinating keynote Geagan delves into what modern health means to today’s consumers.

Organic and Regenerative

Kathleen Merrigan

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan is joined by Debra Eschmeyer, the former executive director of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative and senior policy advisor at the White House, during this keynote. In it the two trailblazers discuss strides made in the organic industry over the past 30 years and the importance of bringing back a broad-based coalition involving environmental and consumer groups, among others, as we look to the future of organics.

Why did the hemp CBD market stagger through 2020?

Getty Images hemp field with blue sky

First, a buoyant 2019 hemp harvest following the passage of the farm bill legitimizing hemp at the close of 2018 led to a massive oversupply. In 2020, almost everybody scaled back hemp acreage—acres of U.S. hemp grown in 2019 fell from a half-million acres to 291,000 acres, according to Vote Hemp.

Then, after a boisterous public meeting lasting hours in March 2019, the FDA proceeded to slow-walk CBD regulations and left everyone feeling uncertain—markets hate uncertainty. The USDA, meanwhile, issued an Interim Final Rule that left farmers feeling like felons. And the DEA—what are they still doing here?—asserted itself, even though the farm bill explicitly left them out, compelling the Hemp Industries Association to sue the drug warriors—again.

In Colorado, the capital of the cannabis kingdom, an early season snowstorm just before harvest killed off as much as 40% of some farmers’ fields.

And did you hear about the coronavirus pandemic? Supplements have done well, but consumers have seemingly traded in their CBD supplements for immune-enhancing ones. At bricks-and-mortar retail, CBD sales have been flat at best.

What’s a motivated, creative, innovative, passionate hemp CBD industry to do after all this whiplash?

The answers to these questions swirling around everyone’s minds will be revealed from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, at the Hemp Collective Virtual Summit II. Attendees can register for this free event here.

If you are already registered on Spark Change for previous events, go here.

In this half-day Zoom-style meetup, you can learn the top things to know about today’s CBD Market. Sessions include:

  • 5 Things to Know Now About the Hemp CBD Market
  • CBD Sourcing Challenges—Finding the Right Partner for Your Brand
  • Quality Control to Major Tom
  • Community Connections: Networking Break
  • Mission Is the Best Differentiator
  • How Cannabis Is Revolutionizing the Food and Beverage Industry
  • Regulatory Bottlenecks: What Happens After the Empire Strikes Back—FDA, USDA, DEA
  • Practical Science—Designing Studies to Support Claims

The Hemp Collective Virtual Summit II is sponsored by market leaders Ananda Hemp, Balanced Health Botanicals, Beneficial Blends, Bluebird Botanicals, Charlotte’s Web, CV Sciences, EcoGen Laboratories, Green Roads, Korent Hemp CBD, MedTerra, Nutiva, Sorse Technology and Sunsoil CBD Oil.

Why Down to Cook offers nutritious, easy-to-cook fare at a Hamburger Helper price point

Down to Cook adda veggie down to cook product lineup

Cooking at home every day during a pandemic is hard. Making these meals healthy, veggie-forward and inexpensive meals can be even harder. But Trishna Saigal, CEO and founder of Down to Cook, which makes plant-based meal starters, is up for the challenge.

After initially focusing on foodservice, Saigal reinvented her company when COVID-19 hit and pivoted to make her company relevant and directly connected to consumers' needs as her corporate catering and restaurant accounts evaporated.

“Cooking from scratch is not an option for a lot of folks because it takes too much time,” says Saigal, a 2020 Pitch Slam at Spark Change Rising Star winner.

Saigal launched her company in June 2019 and relied on her background as a food product developer to create a non-GMO boxed meal kit.

trishna-saigal.jpgConsumers can add vegetables, like riced cauliflower or broccoli, to Down to Cook’s Adda Veggie Protein Mixes that are made from pea protein, psyllium husk and organic corn meal. Mixed with olive oil, the mix then morphs into a crumble perfect for tacos, veggie patties or vegan meatballs.

“I give people just the essentials and they use vegetables to make their meal fresh and healthy,” she says.

Saigal (right) is quick to point out it’s the same methodology used generations ago by traditional boxed cake mixes.

“They didn’t have to make you add an egg,” she says. “They could have put in a powdered egg in the mix. But the behavior of cracking an egg and putting it into the mix makes people feel more like they are baking, right?”

It’s a concept more people are buying into. Over the past few months, Saigal has launched Down to Cook’s Adda Veggie boxed mixes on Amazon, Good Eggs and several other vegan-friendly platforms, in addition to ramping up direct-to-consumer sales on DownToCook.com. She’s also in KeHE’s emerging brands program.

Saigal says her gross margin is approximately 43% on direct sales and 28% on Amazon, with about two-thirds of the revenue coming from e-commerce. She also sells in 40 specialty retailers through several small distributors.

With a $6-per-box price point, plus the cost of a fresh vegetable, Saigal likens the product to a healthier take on Hamburger Helper. “If you compare us to Hamburger Helper, which retails for $1.50 but then you have to go buy the ground meat for $6, the total meal cost is also $8.50,” she says. “We’re the same price, because Adda Veggie was designed to be affordable.”

Below, read what she has to say about finding success this year and what’s in store for 2021.

How have you been able to shift from being a foodservice-focused company since COVID-19 hit?

We spent a lot of time this summer getting set up on e-commerce marketplaces. We launched on Amazon. One of our big wins was launching on Good Eggs, and we are going to be launching in their meal kits in January. We’ve also working on being on other platforms where people can buy a veggie and other things they need to make a meal, like Vegan Essentials, Billions Vegans and GTFO It’s Vegan. We’ve really seen that take off in the last quarter. It took a little while to do the pivot, but now that we’re all set up on different platforms it’s helped our business a lot.

How did you figure out which platform to pick?

About half of our customers are vegans who are excited about a whole foods-based product that is also free from soy and gluten. So, we picked the platforms where there was mission alignment and a good chance of reaching our target customer base.

What has been the key to your success?

Getting people to try Adda Veggie has largely been word-of-mouth. When we were able to interact directly with folks, it was easier to tell people what they could do with it and how they could incorporate vegetables; I really miss that in-person interaction. When we were doing events and demos, it helped us connect with early adopters who are still loyal users and tell their friends. Now we are working with influencers to get people to interact with us through social.

What do you look for in an influencer?

We want to show how to make vegan cooking accessible and we want to be a diverse and inclusive brand. So I look for influencers that are doing that. Vegan, POC cooks and people who help show people different ways to eat vegan food from different cultural cuisines and backgrounds to show the variety of ways vegan food can look. For example, I like to make keema (Indian-style ground meat) but I make it with cauliflower.

How are you engaging influencers?

If we like what an influencer is putting on their own platform, we send samples and try to engage with them. They usually share through a story post and tag us so that it feels more personable. We started working microinfluencers who have less than 10,000 followers and are really passionate about what they are doing. We started about a month ago. We haven’t done a paid effort, but we are looking at using a unique discount code for each specific influencer so we can be able to know what is happening and track sales.

How many influencers are you working with?

Right now we are working with 10 influencers, but we are reaching out to another 10 this week. We do it in waves so I can make sure I can actually engage with them.

What’s something else that has surprised you but helped your business this year?

I did Imperfect Foods' podcast. It was a lot of fun and got us a lot of visibility. The host [Riley Brock, associate creative director for Imperfect Foods] was awesome. He asked a lot of great questions. After I did the podcast I just got an influx of sales. I didn’t realize it had aired at first, but I kept asking "Where are all these sales were coming from?" Then I realized it was connected to the podcast. They have a really engaged audience. They also featured us in their newsletter, and that helped as well.

Why do you think the plant-based movement is gaining so much momentum right now?

A lot of people are focused on how to stay healthy and keep their immunity high, and they are cooking a lot more at home. It brings a lot more awareness in terms of what you’re eating when you’re cooking more often. And it’s building on the clean label movement. People want to understand everything that’s in their food products. It’s a movement that’s been happening, but with COVID-19 people have become hyper aware of what they’re eating.

What else is on tap for Down to Cook in 2021?

We were accepted into KeHE’s emerging brands program and going into distribution with them into natural retailers next year. Earlier this year was a transition phase, but now we’ve got some great prospects and we’re doing well despite the ever-changing environment.

We are working with Zero Grocery, the plastic-free, zero-waste grocery delivery service and will launch with them in January. It’s a really cool platform because they sell everything in glass jars or recyclable packaging. They are going to take our mix and put it into jars so when people order it they give the jars back and there is no waste in the whole process.

I’m also working on three new ways to use the crumble; one is for breakfast instead of using a sausage patty on your sandwich in the morning.

How Bread SRSLY rocked a tumultuous 2020

Bread SRSLY bread srsly lifestyle 2020

Sadie Scheffer, founder and CEO of California-based company Bread SRSLY, says she isn’t too concerned about accelerating growth for the gluten-free sourdough bread brand. Slow and steady is more her speed.

Scheffer's mission is to engage people who love sourdough but thought bread was "off the table" because of their gluten sensitivity. This is the type of customer who ends up crying and hugging the loaf of bread while walking through the store, she says.

Her aim has clearly resonated with customers.

In 2020 Bread SRSLY’s average wholesale accounts have seen 36 turns per store per week across five SKUs. The brand’s e-commerce presence has skyrocketed during COVID-19 to make up 50% of its gross revenue, with a 35% paid ad conversion rate.

sadie scheffer headshot bread srsly ceo“We’re on track to close 2020 above our $2.8 million sales projections, which is a 33% growth over 2019,” says Scheffer (left), an MIT dropout who pursued making gluten-free sourdough bread after that learning her college crush, Jesse (now Scheffer's husband), was following a gluten-free diet. “We’re also cashflow positive and profitable.”

After launching Bread SRSLY in August 2011, Scheffer says her company is hitting its stride. Bread SRSLY now employs 30 people (including a few part-timers). It’s completely debt-funded with Scheffer still the sole owner; this means Bread SRSLY has grown at the rate of their cash flow.

“I’m proud of everything we do, but I’m most proud of our team and company culture, which is based on leadership, communication, respect and teamwork,” Scheffer says. “We prioritize conversations about inclusion and equity. We have a diverse team and believe in giving a say to everyone in the organizational chart, because it is stronger than a traditional hierarchical leadership organization.”

Scheffer’s storytelling pitch and the fabulous taste of her bread won over the 2020 Pitch Slam at Spark Change judges, who declared Bread SRSLY the event's grand prize winner. Find out more below about the company's 2021 trajectory, collaborations, social media strategy and pandemic plan.

What one thing has contributed the most to Bread SRSLY's success in 2020?

One key to our financial success this year was already having a robust e-commerce and logistics situation. We like to do a lot of things in house. We don’t dropship for other companies and we do all of our own logistics and fulfillment. We also use third-party shippers instead of distributors. So that all means we were the reliable ones when most distributors couldn’t fill grocery orders.

On the e-commerce side, our customer service is incredible. So even if carriers were delayed and shipments of bread weren’t arriving, we could pick up the slack and make sure that people got their bread, even if we had to ship it multiple times.

What’s else has helped Bread SRSLY thrive throughout the pandemic?

We split our production team into two pods that are isolated from each other. It’s caused a lot of stress for our staff, but we created a very strict COVID-19 response plan. In early July we split our production team into two pods so that we could stay partially open for production if an instance of work exposure happens.

How have your company's culture and values guided Bread SRSLY?

Between our company culture and values, we have eight core things that guide us. Our three values are: serve, nourish and include. Then we have five pillars that make up our company culture: communication, respect, collaboration, teamwork and safety.

Our company culture of safety has been the one where we could change something we are doing but we don’t because it would mean putting something like profit or customer experience over safety. Employee safety and happiness are the most important things.

How are you able to get such a great paid ad conversion rate of 35%?

We were already in the low 20s for last year, but Melissa Lopez, the marketing director for Bread SRSLY, has done a lot of work in the last three years dialing in her ad strategy. We had an amazing advisor a couple of years ago who helped us do the first step in terms of fine tuning our paid ads.

Some of it is probably outdated now, but I had learned AdWords from an ex-Google employee. As our advisor pointed out, Google employees are taught how to use the algorithm in a way that makes Google the most money. There are much better ways to do things for less money.

With Google ads, if you make a change your ads get shut down for 24 hours to change the process, but with Facebook you can make changes really fast. The advice we got was if you want to test ad copy to find out what is going to give you the best conversion rate, test and refine your ad copy on Facebook and then bring it over to Google.

What is your vision for the gluten-free sourdough bread category?

We’ve always wanted to stay true to sourdough and make sourdough that people understand because it has so many health benefits compared to bread that has baker’s yeast in it.  American bread is sweet, and any bread you bite into is going to have sugar because yeast loves to eat sugar. It speeds up the process and it makes a weird spiral that makes the bread cheaper, and anything that makes bread cheaper makes it harder to digest.

We’re making a product that’s easy to digest and has bioavailable nutrients and organic ingredients. Wild fermentation is an important part of that process.

I don’t know if the industry is ready for sourdough chocolate chip cookies, but sourdough pizza dough is up next for us.

Bread SRSLY just launched a cinnamon raisin sourdough bread this week. How’s it been going?

We collaborated with Just Date Syrup for it. We launched in less than three months and tested two recipes a day for about six weeks. It’s been an interesting product development process because we’ve never worked with sugar before. Sourdough loves the sugar so we had to ferment the dough for seven hours longer than our other doughs to actually get the fermentation because the sourdough eats the sugar first. It’s an interesting product. It’s on the savory side, a little sour and a little sweet but not like a sugar bomb going off, which is awesome.

I must have tested out 12 different oven bake programs to figure out how it would bake well. The oven I thought was going to be the ace in the hole never was successful.

Bread SRSLY is in approximately 130 locations now and the brand has grown at a very measured pace. Why is that?

We are self-disciplined about growth. We’ve always had nonstandard relationship with growth because it’s not our main goal. We also have buckets of constraints, like we are almost at production capacity and have a few more years on our leases, so we have reasons to not grow.

For people who have co-packers, external fulfillment and a distributor, growth is required. But we don’t have that because we manage all our operations. It’s an interesting position to be in, and I love it. My passion has always been the people, culture and leadership. I love knowing everything that’s being done and knowing all the people by name, interacting with them and hearing their ideas.

What is your goal for 2021?

The goal of next year is to strengthen our foundation. We’ve done a lot of work on our company culture in 2020, especially in terms of safety. There is more work to do and more team members who can get involved, specifically in bringing in more antiracism content into our workplace culture.

Right now we’ve engaged about half of the team, because the production team is producing like 24 hours a day. It’s hard to have important conversations when language is a barrier. I’m not fluent in Spanish and many of my staff aren’t fluent in English. We are working on our brand's story and making a small revenue jump next year to build out our engine for 2022.