EQUII’s complete-protein bread hits Hy-Vee shelves, as brand tees up further staples innovation

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Source: EQUII
Source: EQUII

Related tags Equii Protein Bakery plant-based

Venture-backed bread company EQUII is launching in 88 Midwest Hy-Vee stores — more than doubling its retail footprint — as it demonstrates the potential of fermentation to create better-for-you versions of classic pantry staples, brand Co-founder and Co-CEO Monica Bhatia told FoodNavigator-USA.

Founded in 2021 by Bhatia and fellow food scientist Baljit Ghotra, EQUII offers a line of nutrient-enriched bread, including Multi-grain and Classic Wheat varieties, available in original and fiber-enhanced options, providing 10 grams and 8 grams of complete protein per slice, respectively. In 2022, the company raised $6 million in seed funding,​ led by Khosla Ventures.  

EQUII is leveraging fermentation to develop a yeast protein that provides the right balance of essential amino acids and proteins to be considered a complete protein and also provides 40% less carbs than typical flours, Bhatia explained.

“We have doubled our population in the last 50 years. That means people are going to need more protein. People are going to need more food. So, looking at staple foods, it just seemed very obvious to us that this was a whitespace on the plate. And we felt strongly that we could bring technology to disrupt this space with true innovation,” Bhatia said.

EQUII focuses on 'main play' of retail, explores ingredient business opportunities

Moving beyond its West Coast distribution, primarily in Northern California, EQUII is turning its attention to the Midwest region with plans of being nationwide by next year, Bhatia said.

While it maintains a direct-to-consumer offering on its website, EQUII's “main play” is in retail while it uses e-commerce to trial products and receive consumer feedback, she added.

“We understand ... that ultimately grocery is a center-store, retail play. I really believe in that interaction that the consumer has with the product on a shelf, just picking it up, turning it around, looking at the ingredients [and] looking at the nutritional panel. It really creates a deeper sense of understanding about the product,” Bhatia said.

Additionally, EQUII is developing its business-to-business channel, having worked with several companies on bakery applications outside of sliced bread, Bhatia said.

Earlier this year, EQUII partnered with frozen baked goods company Bridor, which will use EQUII’s Complete Protein Blend in dinner rolls, ciabatta sandwich wraps and bread loaves for foodservice.

“We have products in market, and we are going to launch another major product category pretty soon. Our focus is to continue to build distribution and go-to-market pathways, whether it is on the ingredient side or whether it is on the product side,” Bhatia said. “If our plan works out, we are going to be one of those outlier companies with traction and revenue generated much sooner in our timeline.”  

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