THOMASVILLE, GA. — During an interview in which he spoke extensively about Dave’s Killer Bread, its history and potential, A. Ryals McMullian, president and chief executive officer of Flowers Foods, Inc., said DKB is not the only brand with the potential to generate growth for the company. Highlights from his comments about Canyon Bakehouse and Nature’s Own follow:
Flowers acquired Canyon Bakehouse LLC, a privately held, gluten-free baking company based in Johnstown, Colo., in late 2018 for $205 million. The company was established in 2009 by Josh and Christi Skow.
- “It’s a smaller segment, but I think we have the same opportunity with Canyon as Dave’s. People are passionate about that brand as well, maybe for different reasons in this case. But I think we’ve got an opportunity in the gluten-free space to move beyond just where we are today.”
- “People have been calling for the death of gluten-free forever. But it continues to grow. It’s not ever going to be on the scale of Dave’s because it’s a smaller market segment, but I do think there are incremental innovation opportunities outside of the core bread space that we can play in with Canyon.“
- “We’re continually tweaking and reformulating and trying to get the best quality taste and texture we can. I will tell you what our consumers tell us — that it is far and away the best tasting gluten-free bread.”
Nature’s Own was first introduced by Flowers Foods in 1977. It grew to be the largest variety bread brand in the United States and has been a major driver of growth for Flowers since the 1990s. In 2018, the company launched Nature’s Own Perfectly Crafted as a super-premium sub-line.
- “Nature’s Own is what brought us to the dance. It’s the core of the business, and we will continue to nurture and grow it.”
- “Perfectly Crafted has been a home run for us. That’s the one place where we’ve line extended Nature’s Own and really knocked it out of the park. We’ve started with two varieties and since then we’ve introduced a brioche style and a sourdough. We’ve also introduced buns and dinner rolls. We’ve been very pleased with the success of Perfectly Crafted.”
- “It’s another example of the premiumization in the category where consumers are looking for something unique and different. So we’re really excited about that.”
- “We will continue to innovate around Perfectly Crafted. But the core of the business is still our main line Nature’s Own products, and so it’s very, very important that we continue to nurture Nature’s Own.”
A new era of innovation in bread
Despite difficult trends in bread volume over the past year, Mr. McMullian said innovation in recent years in the bread category leaves him optimistic about the outlook. He contrasted current innovation with a period in which few interesting new products were being introduced.
“I think what you’re going to see over time is a kind of a continued migration away from that traditional loaf area into these specialty segments,” he said. “That traditional loaf area will still be a base. It’ll still be the core. But what’s driving the category are the premium items.”