SAN DIEGO – Market research revealed the core shopper of Bob’s Red Mill products was over age 50 and lived in a two-person household.
|Meghan Keeley, food safety and quality assurance manager for Bob's Red Mill|
“We have found that we have kind of an older, established core group,” said Meghan Keeley, food safety and quality assurance manager. “We want to reach that younger group, either college age or young families, larger households.”
A 2015 product line introduction has attracted the desired demographic. Ms. Keeley detailed how Bob’s Red Mill developed a gluten-free oatmeal cups line in her Oct. 9 presentation at Cereals 17, the annual meeting of AACC International in San Diego. The quick-cooking cup appeals to younger people because of its convenience benefits.
The product challenged Bob’s Red Mill to work with new ingredients.
“It’s been a learning process because it is just a whole other animal,” she said. “We had different micro ingredients that we were putting into these cups. It’s not just oats. It’s chia. It’s flax. It’s salt. It’s blueberries. Being able to launch a product, get it out there, get people excited about it and fulfill orders with brand new equipment can be a challenge.”
The cups feature a blend of three different gluten-free oats. Scottish oats milled in-house are blended with rolled oats and quick-cooking rolled oats. The blends then are tested for gluten and placed into cups, which also are tested for gluten before being shipped out.
“With this particular item, it can be tested up to three times before it goes out the door to make sure at each step it is remaining less than 20 parts per million (p.p.m.),” Ms. Keeley said.
Products must contain less than 20 p.p.m. of gluten to qualify as gluten-free under Food and Drug Administration regulations.
Success has led to a line extension. Bob’s Red Mill, Milwaukie, Ore., this year introduced organic oatmeal cups with organic certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
Bob’s Red Mill, established in 1978, offers more than 400 products, including 120 gluten-free items. Twenty-eight products contain gluten-free oats. Ms. Keeley said gluten-free oats make up $22.7 million of an overall $530 million oats category, but gluten-free oats are boosting the overall category.“They are increasing double-digits both in unit sales and dollar sales,” Ms. Keeley said. “So they are doing great while traditional oats are declining.”