Sure, bread’s gotten a bad rap in recent history, but its positive attributes have withstood the test of time — and that’s been key to Chabaso’s longevity.
In the bakery’s early days, it welcomed other artisan breads into the marketplace. Competition is good for business; when there are multiple varieties on the store shelf, consumers get to know artisan bread and understand what makes it great. Now the market is a bit more saturated, so Chabaso relies on its process, quality and social impact to take the brand into the future.
Unlike many indulgent baked foods that must often be modified by reducing sugar or fat to accommodate health-and-wellness trends, artisan bread touts inherently healthy attributes.
Chabaso knows that good bread is good for you; it doesn’t require reformulating just to check the better-for-you box.
“Fermentation plays out in making a better bread in terms of flavor and also in digestibility and other attributes,” said Reed Immer, communications director at Chabaso. “That’s always been a core part of Chabaso, with our 20-plus hours of fermentation. And it’s not only particular to Chabaso, but it also applies to bread in general. When we push forward on the importance of whole grains and explaining what makes this bread good for you, it can influence consumers to eat other breads as well.”
The bread is a big part of what drew Trish Karter, Chabaso chief executive officer and acting plant manager, to the company. After founding Dancing Deer Baking Co. and launching a sustainable salad greens operation for the New England area, Ms. Karter sought a new opportunity to make big change through food.
“I wanted my next chapter to be about sustainability, social impact, nutrition and dematerialization,” she explained. “Chabaso was a wonderful coming together of all the same motives. Bread is powerful. You have a chance to do something healthy with bread.”
As more consumers seek out foods that are good for their bodies, their communities and even the planet, Chabaso sees an opportunity to put healthy bread on the map.
“We’re doing what we believe in, and I think consumers are going in the same direction,” Ms. Karter said. “It’s more grains, more fiber, more nutrients, more artisan, more interesting flavors ... more fun. We’re hanging onto the best of what we’ve always done in terms of long fermentation and an uncompromising process; that ultimately results in uncompromising quality.”
The bakery also is creating social enterprise through partnerships with organizations such as Brigaid, a company that manages food service for public schools in the Northeast and focuses on providing nutritious options for schools that have a high ratio — sometimes even 100% — free lunch programs.
This was an initiative dear to Chabaso’s founder Charles Negaro.
“If I had three wishes for making the world better, one of them would be to have healthier kids,” he said. “How do you make healthy kids? Feeding them is a big part of it. We have a tiny part to play by providing good, nutritious, affordable bread.”
This is how Chabaso is bringing artisan bread to the masses.
“Innovation and automation are necessary if you want to produce at a high volume and you want to make something that’s affordable to a mass market,” Mr. Abrams said.
When done carefully and purposefully, scaling up artisan is an opportunity to bring artisan’s art and science together.
This article is an excerpt from the August 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Chabaso, click here.