Udi’s bread to appear in in-store bakery in August

by Jeff Gelski
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BOULDER, COLO. — Udi’s gluten-free bread, normally found in the frozen foods department, should begin appearing in racks in the ambient or in-store bakery section at retail this month, said Steve Hughes, chairman and chief executive officer of Boulder Brands, Inc.

“We have one account that’s ready to go system-wide,” he said Aug. 7 in a conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings. “They are going to do that on Aug. 18. We have (other accounts) that are going to, want to try a couple different approaches to it and do that in 100 stores.”

Other Udi’s gluten-free baked foods may appear in in-store fresh bakery.

“We’re looking at cupcakes,” he said. “We’re looking at sheet cakes. We’re looking at things you would expect to find in bakeries. So I think this is going to be a really big incremental play for us, and it is going to secure Udi’s long-term leadership position because at the end of the day, bakery is where people buy baked goods, not the frozen food aisle.”

Boulder Brands will ship the Udi’s bread frozen before it is put on the fresh racks at retail.

“We have velocity on Udi’s that you can actually ship a frozen product in, slack it out on the rack, have it turn fast enough so you don’t have a lot of stales,” Mr. Hughes said.

Mr. Hughes was asked about the price of the Udi’s bread in in-store bakery versus the Udi’s bread in frozen food.

“They are going to be approximately the same,” he said. “The loaf is larger. It’s a large, more traditional size loaf, but it’s going to be comparable.”

Net sales for the Udi’s brand grew nearly 34% in the second quarter ended June 30. The Udi’s brand will launch in two national restaurant chains in the second half of the year, Mr. Hughes said.

Boulder Brands reported net income of $2,736,000, or 5c per share on the common stock, in the second quarter, which was down from $3,094,000, or 5c per share, in the second quarter of the previous year. Total reported net sales of $131,348,000 were up from $110,669,000. Adjusted EBITDA was flat at $17.6 million.

High egg white prices and a mix shift to the company’s brands in the Natural segment, which includes the Udi’s brand, affected gross margins in the second quarter, Mr. Hughes said.

Christine Sacco, chief financial officer for Boulder Brands, said the company’s fourth-quarter guidance for egg white prices was between $9 and $9.50 per lb.

“I think for 2015, it’s too early to call a price on egg whites,” she said. “However, the supply-demand environment appears to be improving, and one commodity resource that we’ve been looking at is projecting dried egg whites to be 25% lower in 2015 than 2014.“

She said four areas should contribute to improvement in gross margins over the second half of the fiscal year.

“First, the majority of the improvement will come from the reduction of inefficient trade and coupon spending as we are gaining efficiencies with our retailers across our brands,” Ms. Sacco said. “Second, effective in Q3, we will begin to feel the benefit of the price increase on Udi’s bakery we implemented to offset the higher egg white costs. Third, we reformulated our ingredient profile, which is now less dependent on egg whites. And finally, we have a number of operational initiatives as we focus on continuous improvement projects that are already beginning to contribute to margin enhancement.”

For the six months ended June 30, Boulder Brands companywide had net income of $3,148,000, or 5c per share, which was down from $7,055,000, or 12c per share, in the same time period of the previous year. Six-month net sales of $254,200,000 were up from $217,322,000. Boulder Brands for the full fiscal year continues to expect net sales in the range of $540 million to $550 million and adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $89 million to $91 million.
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