Base Culture finds clean-label opportunity in the shelf-stable bread aisle

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Base Culture
Image Credit: Base Culture

Related tags Bread Gluten-free bread preservatives

Clean-label bread maker Base Culture expands beyond the frozen aisle with its first line of shelf-stable products, tapping into consumer demand for preservative-free and nutrient-dense foods, CEO Johnny Heiselberg told FoodNavigator-USA.

Last month, Base Culture launched​ its Simply line of bread — available in Hint of Honey, Classic Sandwich Bread, and Super Seed varieties — for an MSRP of $7.99 at Whole Foods nationwide. The breads contain non-GMO ingredients, are certified gluten-ree, and will be sampled at Natural Products Expo West (booth #N332).

"We don't use enriched flours ... instead we use whole flours, in our case, tapioca, hemp, and coconut flour. We use the whole thing. And as a result, we get really great nutritional outcomes like 8 grams of fiber per slice, and that sets us apart from what is currently in the set,” Heiselberg said.

Simply 'resonates with half of Americans who think bread is highly processed'

While bread has largely remained a stagnant category, Base Culture is innovating by delivering nutrient-dense and cleaner brands as consumers demand better-for-you options, Heiselberg said. 

Bread is the third most shopped category behind eggs and dairy, "and yet, it is not a super active category. It’s pretty stable,” he said. “There's room for us, and there's room for [our product]. It resonates with half of Americans who think bread is highly processed and try to avoid it."

Consumers are also trying to avoid added preservatives, like nisin, which has been found to have a damaging impact on gut health, according to a recent University of Chicago study​. 

Base Culture’s Simply breads are not formulated with preservatives and use a packaging technology that has been primarily used in deli meats to keep products fresh, Heiselberg explained.

“We're not using any preservatives, and that's actually very hard to do if you think about the value chain and how things get to the supermarket,” Heiselberg said. “The way we're able to do it is we've adopted a technology that has mostly, so far, been used in deli meats ... It's a fully sealed container that we flush with CO2, so it's inert air in there, and that helps us keep the bread shelf-stable without using preservatives.”

Going 'old school’ to promote Simply bread

Base Culture’s focus in the next year and a half will be on growing the Simply brand, but Heiselberg acknowledged that the company has plenty of opportunities to innovate in the bakery space. Base Culture owns its bakery — located in Clearwater, Fla. — allowing the company to experiment without the barrier of going though a co-manufacturer, he added.  

“The next 12-18 months, the real focus here is on the Simply brand, getting it out into more hands and more retailers and sharing the story that this is amazing product is available. And then, when we look beyond that, there's plenty of other clean brand opportunities to pursue, and we absolutely are. There's lots of fun grains to explore and that we could incorporate."

As part of its marketing campaign to promote the Simply brand, Base Culture will be using an “old-school” approach to getting the word out, including in-store promotional activities and demoing the product at tradeshows, like Expo West. 

"There'll be some good promo opportunities. A lot of our efforts will be centered [on] the in-store shopping experience - that after all is where people go to buy their groceries, and I love to influence their decision in the aisle,” he said. “We'll have demos. We'll have case stackers. We'll have offers in the store, and that's really the center of the activation for this launch.”

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