"I came across this idea to really tap into this sleepy category, which was sweet baked goods," Davis said. "There could be some interesting ways to be disruptive and innovative, and my thought was ... how do you do something using food science to innovate and really help people appeal to their health [and] wellness that they want."
From Nick’s to launching Donutful
The first product out of Better Bakehouse, Donutful is a better-for-you sweet baked good that contains 25% less sugar than comparable donuts. Donutful launched in Wegmans last month, and it is currently available in Vanilla Dipped, Chocolate Dipped, and Pink Dipped.
The inspiration for the brand came after Davis served as the CEO and a board member to better-for-you snack and ice cream brand Nick’s and wanted to stay in the food industry, following his tenure. He found an opportunity to create a more natural better-for-you product in a relatively untapped part of the market with sweet baked goods.
“I really determined that there was a big opportunity for a mainstream product, doing something that's innovative, doing something that's fresh. But the real mantra that we heard from a lot of research ... is people want really clean labels.”
Many of the leaders in the sweet baked good category were “almost the antithesis of a clean label, loaded with sugar, loaded with fat and lots of calories ... [and] loaded with a lot of chemicals and artificial ingredients,” Davis said. So, with Donutful, Better Bakehouse created its Donutful line with non-GMO and “pantry ingredients” that are easily understood, he added.
Real sugar, but less of it
Donutful also is tapping into the low-sugar trend. Unlike other natural products that might use stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, or other sweeteners, Donutful uses cane sugar but formulates with less than other sweet baked goods on the market, Davis explained.
While there has been a push to reduce sugar consumption across the food and beverage, Davis sees consumer moderation as being key, noting that people are still going to seek out permissible indulgences.
"I don't know how long it's going to be, how long it's going to take, and what it's going to take for consumers to cut their sugar content way back," Davis said. "I don't know if there's honestly ever going to be a time when people won't enjoy sugar in different products that they are eating ... The question is how do you consume sugar in moderation and in a measured way, so you don't eat it too pervasively."
Growing beyond Wegmans
With its first product now on Wegman’s store shelves “and the sales are doing exceptionally ... with very little consumer marketing,” Better Bakehouse is looking to expand the distribution of Donutful by focusing on grocers and then moving into other channels.
“There are over 300,000 store doors that we can sell our product into in the US alone when you add all the grocery, all the convenience, the mass outlets, the club outlets, and then food service and hospitality. So, our Donutful products are perfectly suited and really designed to be sold in all of those stores.”