Specialty baking mix brand Foodstirs is expanding into fresh bakery with the launch of its first ready-to-eat offerings. The new product line features organic, grab-and-go miniature donuts, muffins and brownie bites that contain 50% less sugar than conventional options on the market.
“We call it ‘sugar optimized,’” said Greg Fleishman, co-founder and president of Santa Monica-based Foodstirs. “When we were developing our sweetener system, we wanted to make sure we were delivering a sweet flavor and a mouthfeel that was replicating pure cane sugar.”
A combination of organic cane sugar, tapioca syrup, agave inulin and stevia leaf extract is used to sweeten the products. Each donut, muffin or bite contains two or three grams of sugar.
Available online and in select retailers, items include powdered donuts, double chocolate donuts, blueberry muffins, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate brownie bites and snickerdoodle blondie bites.
“One thing we decided early on was this is going to be a fresh product,” Mr. Fleishman said. “It ships frozen, and it’s slacked out in the fresh bakery section where it has a 21-day shelf life. From a product proposition standpoint, that allowed us to create recipes that didn’t require shelf-life-extension preservatives. We are able to use most of the same ingredients that we use in the baking mixes.”
Founded in 2015, Foodstirs offers a range of baking kits and mixes for cakes, cookies, protein bars, brownies, pancakes and more. The company uses sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients such as fair-trade chocolate, biodynamic cane sugar, single-origin and identity-preserved flour and colors from natural sources. The products are sold in more than 10,000 retail outlets. The business has doubled year over year, Mr. Fleishman said.
The baking and dessert mixes market in the United States is valued at nearly $4 billion and has experienced declines in recent years, according to market research firm Mintel. Smaller households and interest in more convenient options from standalone and in-store bakeries have contributed to category weakness.
“The whole point of our company is to fill these gaps in the marketplace and to fulfill the needs of our consumers,” said Galit Laibow, co-founder and chief executive officer of Foodstirs. (A third co-founder is television and movie star Sarah Michelle Gellar). “People wanted portability, the same quality, taste and acceptability we provide in a baking mix, but they wanted something more convenient.”
Dollar sales in the bakery snacks segment grew 0.1% to $3.4 million last year, according to Information Resources, Inc. The category is dominated by industry stalwarts McKee Foods Corp., Hostess Brands and Flowers Foods.
“There is such a glaring need, people wanting nostalgic food products that have been upgraded for modern times, and particularly for today’s sweet tooth,” Mr. Fleishman said. “It’s really obvious when you go into fresh bakery right now, there is nothing like what we’ve created, and there’s such an obvious need.”
Emerging brands are disrupting product categories across the grocery store, he added.
“It’s similar to Halo Top, when you think about it,” he said. “All these people wanted to indulge in a lovely frozen creamy dessert but didn’t want to be taking down 800 calories in one sitting. That mindset gets carried through other parts of the store. You’ve seen it happen in the candy aisle, and now we’re doing it in fresh bakery.
“We’re in 2019, and everybody is expecting these upgrades will happen with the foods they’ve been craving from when they were children.”