Form meets function
May 1, 2012
by Lucy Sutton
Differentiation drives product development for most baking and snack food companies. Already established with an unusual oblong shape for its wraps, Flatout, Inc., Saline, MI, pushed the envelope further with its Foldit flatbreads.
"Driven by wanting to be different, we realized that there was functionality in creating a product that could fold and created the figure-8 shape," said Bob Pallotta, the company's vice-president, marketing, based in Chicago, IL. "The uniqueness of the bread and its form and function were the reasons for the development."
Envisioned for use in hamburgers, sandwiches and paninis, Foldit bread's figure-8 shape produces what Mike Marsh, husband of company founder Stacey Marsh, calls a "backstop" at its hinge. That factor helps set Foldit flatbreads apart from sandwich thins, which were rolled out in parallel by competing companies.
"We were doing consumer research, a central location test in Kansas City," Mr. Pallotta said. "Bagel thins were just happening, and this one lady said, 'Boy, this is just like this bagel thin product that my sister sends me from New England.'"
Reaching national distribution this past August, Foldit flatbreads are available in four varieties: 5 Grain Flax, Traditional White, Rosemary and Olive Oil, and Sliders Classic White. The company also released a complementary line in Wal-Mart stores with Hungry Girl branding to take advantage of the brand’s name recognition for guilt-free eating.
"The umbrella that crosses all of our target segments is, it's all about taste," Mr. Pallotta said. "We want to make sure that the conscious effort to eat good food is maximized by the enjoyment of it."
To convey that message, the company includes serving suggestions and recipes on its packaging and its website, www.flatoutbread.com, including Foldit grilled cheese, arugula mushroom Foldit thin crust pizza and Memphis-style pulled-pork Foldit sliders.
Enhanced nutrition is the other side of Foldit's success strategy. The regular-sized flatbreads contain 90 to 100 Cal each, while the smaller sliders have 47 Cal. Each Foldit has at least 3 g fiber and 6 g protein, and the 5 Grain Flax qualifies for an "excellent source" claim for both ALA omega-3s and fiber. A 9-oz package, with either six larger flatbreads or 18 sliders in each bag, retails for $3.25 on average. Mr. Pallotta hinted at a pretzel variety to come to market soon.
"While we live in the flatbread world, we think the shape is revolutionary," Mr. Pallotta summed up. "With our taste profile, I think we've got a long-run perspective that this is going to be a big part of the bread market."