The marriage of few trends resulted in a new product line for S&F Foods. The Romulus, MI, company has specialized in gluten-free foods since its founding in 2003. Throw in the growth of hand-held stuffed sandwiches and the meteoric rise of snacking, and S&F was presented the perfect window for launching its Gluten-Free Delights.
In a recent report from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, non-breakfast stuffed sandwiches turned in sales of $2.4 billion, but S&F says it now has a one-of-a-kind offering. “Gluten-Free Delights were born out of the need for a convenient gluten-free snack,” said David Spencer, president of sales, S&F Foods. “These hot stuffed sandwiches are unique from any other gluten-free snack option available on the market right now.”
According to Mr. Spencer, around 18 million Americans are on a gluten-free or gluten-restricted diet. Those consumers sometimes find it hard to find quick meals and snacks, which becomes more of a problem with the recent prevalence of snacking. The average number of snacks consumed daily jumped from 1.8 per person in 2010 to 2.8 in 2014, and 28% of consumers say they have four or five meals a day instead of three squares. Additionally, 21% said they eat on the run. It became apparent for S&F that a gluten-free option could be a big opportunity.
“For gluten-free consumers, this is sometimes a struggle, especially because America is a culture of snackers,” Mr. Spencer said. “Delights are small enough to toss in a lunch box or eat with one hand and are a savory meal or snack that everyone can enjoy. They are created for on-the-go consumers ranging from teenagers to those in their mid-twenties as well as parents looking for healthy snacks for their families.”
Gluten-Free Delights come in four varieties: Ham & Cheese, Southwest Veggie, Pepperoni, and Spinach & Artichoke. Southwest Veggie includes brown rice, black beans and vegetables, and the Spinach & Artichoke variety features kale. The sandwiches are available throughout Wisconsin, the greater Chicago area and Phoenix, with plans to expand next year.
“After analyzing the top trends in the industry, our R&D specialists developed flavor profiles that appealed to a broad spectrum of demographics,” Mr. Spencer said.
Each 4.5-oz box contains a pair of frozen sandwiches and retails for $3.99. None of the varieties contain artificial flavors or colors. They are certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group.
“In addition to using an outside lab, an in-house testing facility was built for on-site testing to ensure there is no presence of gluten in the products,” Mr. Spencer said. “There are segmented areas of the plant for the storage of gluten-free raw materials to avoid any potential cross-contamination.”
All of that effort, Mr. Spencer believes, will lead to a product that has a long and successful life. “We expect this new line to continue to grow as the gluten-free industry grows. With consumers looking for healthier ways to enjoy the foods they love, the gluten-free market has cemented its staying power,” he said. “And Gluten-Free Delights are a unique addition.”