Baking A Business: Goodman Gluten Free Expands With Ahold USA

Meagan McGinnes

Bob Goodman, a long-time in-store bakery broker and consultant, thinks he has the perfect recipe for success in the gluten free market. Take one part knowledge of in-store bakery, add two parts long-standing relationships from a 40-year career in food. Mix thoroughly and wait for Goodman Gluten Free to rise — which is exactly what it’s doing.

The gluten-free baked goods line geared toward in-store bakeries introduced its products into Ahold USA earlier this month, bringing the company’s store count to over 2,000 eastern U.S. supermarkets since its 2015 launch. So far with 2017’s growth and Goodman’s new partnership with Ahold, the company has already done $500,000 in business from January through March, Goodman told NOSH. He added that the company is on trend to take in $2 million for the year. For comparison, in Goodman Gluten Free’s first full year of business in 2016, the product lines — including various flavors of extended shelf life cookies, brownie bites, breads and cupcakes — were sold in 600 stores and brought in $700,000, the company reported.

Store locations and sales are not the only things growing within Goodman Gluten Free. To help service increased demand, Goodman added a second gluten-dairy-peanut free bakery in Texas that’s expected to begin service within the following weeks. The company also has new product line innovation in the oven, including hamburger buns, muffins and full cakes, all of which are expected to hit store shelves by early May. Goodman added the company is now working on crouton, bread crumb and bagel recipes for later launches this year.

The growth is currently funded by company profits and one private investor. Goodman said the company is not actively seeking investment, but may consider seeking capital down the road to help fund the company’s receivables.

Goodman credits the bulk of the company’s rapid development to the product’s taste and his personal connections within the industry. Goodman’s lengthy resume includes owning his own food brokerage firm for 17 years before selling it to category leader Acosta, working 10 years as a national executive at Acosta, and founding his own consulting firm Goodman Food Solutions, whose clients include Zaro’s and Angel Bakeries.

“The key to the whole concept of our business is that the product is delicious,” Goodman said. “But first it’s getting the meeting for them to taste it. And if I don’t know the people, I know the people who know the people to get this in front of the customer.”

As shoppers are staying closer to the perimeter of stores in search of fresher options, consumers are increasingly looking to specialty sections, like in-store bakery, which is growing at about four percent per year, to fulfill those needs.

Goodman is banking that gluten-free won’t fade anytime soon. According to Google trends, searches for “gluten-free” have steadily been on the rise since 2004. Goodman Gluten Free is riding both these trends with its products, which have been packaged to look perceivably fresh. This gives retailers an entry point into the market without having to take on the task of creating their own recipes in-house, he said.

“Grocery stores are crowded with items that, frankly, I didn’t want to be be next to because our product is so much better and there product is so much less money on the shelf,” Goodman said. “But they didn’t have the category. Five years ago, in-store bakery wouldn’t touch it because they said ‘Oh it belongs in grocery!’ But then they saw people start coming to the fresh bakery section [asking for] gluten-free breads or desserts, items… that are better than what [they] can get in the grocery section. And now, it’s not just the gluten intolerant buying gluten free. It’s a lifestyle product.”


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