Gluten-free mug muffin start-up hungry to invigorate market

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The Muffin Vitalution wants to upscale production to 100,000-200,000 muffin pots next year
The Muffin Vitalution wants to upscale production to 100,000-200,000 muffin pots next year

Related tags Concept Innovation

Gluten-free microwaveable muffins plug a market gap where major food firms are slow to innovate, claims a start-up looking to upscale its muffin pot concept.

Wisconsin-headquartered The Muffin Vitalution wants to upscale an on-the-go version of its S’good Muffin microwaveable mixes across the US. The muffin mixes, suitable for celiacs and those following the paleo diet, are currently sold in foil packs and canisters in a handful of stores in the local area but the company wants to roll-out a single-serve, disposable paper cup line in national retailers.

Founded in 2012 and operational for the past year, The Muffin Vitalution was “still really in start-up mode”, ​according to co-owner Kevin Keepper, but with big expansion plans on the horizon.

The company has registered a Kickstarter project to generate $20,000 to scale up operations with a second co-manufacturer by the year’s end. With the campaign set to close this week, just under $7,000 has been generated so far.

“The target we have in the Kickstarter campaign is a way to test and see if we can produce that cup in 2014. If we don’t hit the target, then we won’t be moving into that co-packer in 2014 but it doesn’t mean we don’t move forward. We can leverage a lot of the marketing and outward reach that we’ve gotten through this campaign and work with alternative funding sources to look at producing the first round of cups,”​ he told

The aim was to make just under $1m next year, churning out 100,000-200,000 potted muffins.

Big companies aren’t innovating

Keepper said the concepts behind the product – nutrition, gluten-free, paleo and convenience – tied together to plug a market gap. The mix contains chia seeds, almond flour, cinnamon, flax seed, coconut oil, coconut sugar, eggs and agave inulin and forms a muffin when mixed with water and microwaved on a high heat for  two minutes. 

sgood kid pouring water

“There’s opportunity in the gluten-free marketplace for something like this with this level of convenience.”

Market leaders like Udi’s had already entered the packaged muffin space, he said, but there remained little push in the microwaveable, gluten-free segment.

“There is a lot of growth in the gluten-free bakery space and mostly it’s very exciting growth for folks eating in this space. However, we’re seeing a slow adoption from some of the larger food companies that could be innovating in the space. So, what you’re seeing is an emergence of companies like S’good Muffin to fill that gap and push the product development into a space where major food companies aren’t going to take that risk. Because it is a risk – it’s a big risk to innovate and try a new market space.”

Celiac or paleo: What’s the target?

Keepper said the initial consumer target was busy families. “Two working parents and kids that are hyper busy but very interested in staying up on health trends – that’s the main profile. And then there’s the cut of that we’re really focusing on – celiacs and people who are paleo.” 

sgood girl

Older consumers looking to stay healthy also provided growth opportunity, he said, as well as young, busy professionals looking for vending machine or cafeteria options. “However, we’re not going to service that right now, we’re going to focus on grocery stores and young families,”​ he added.

Asked if consumers would need education on the product concept, particularly the microwaveable and health aspects, he said: “The mug muffin concept is something people are becoming familiar with; however it is still a new concept. To think ‘when I microwave it, the product I’m getting is a hearty muffin’ – that twist is an exciting opportunity for us to play with.”

In terms of the gluten-free/paleo aspect of the product, he said there was less education needed because celiacs and those following the paleo diet were used to extensive product research out of necessity. “We have the benefit of getting early uptake from those, but to move beyond that is going to take education.”

Long-term, however, growth opportunities were in the paleo market, Keepper said. “Initially the gluten-free side is bigger because of market uptake where education isn’t required… But I see the future to be in that paleo space. With gluten-free, if you look strictly from a product perspective, it’s not a mature market yet but it’s quickly reaching something of that and paleo is rather new in the marketplace and there’s still a lot of space for that to pick up.”

The Muffin Vitalution is currently in discussions with a national retailer, interested in the product should the company manage to upscale to the on-the-go paper cup product version.

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