For many children, a packaged Hostess cupcake served at a classroom birthday party is simply a fun treat. However, for those with food allergies, fun can turn to fear quickly. About 4 percent of Americans suffer from some kind of food allergy, according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and people needing emergency treatment for food allergies in the U.S. has increased 377 percent in the last decade. Better Bites Bakery is trying to give those consumers a snack they can count on to be safe.
The Austin-based allergen-free brand was founded by Leah Lopez in 2011 and its chilled, Hostess-inspired products were picked up in Whole Foods Market by 2013 before going nationwide with the natural products retailer in 2018. Currently, Better Bites is sold in just under 1,000 stores with additional retailers including HEB, Central Market, Sam’s Club, Natural Grocers and Publix.
During Natural Products Expo East, Lopez spoke with NOSH senior reporter Meagan McGinnes about the brand’s growth story and why she thinks the brand has seen success thus far.
“It was one of those things born out of necessity for my son and it has been an opportunity to be the choice for people who don’t have many choices in that area of the bakery,” Lopez said. “They feel our brand is a safe brand, but we didn’t want to be too serious and miss the fun side of it.”
Lopez also shared that Better Bites is extending its mission to provide safe and fun indulgent options to a new consumer — diabetics — with the launch of a new, low-sugar line. Diabetes among adults in the U.S. rose to 14 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to a report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. As more people continue to be diagnosed with this disease, the global diabetic food market is expected to be worth $11.1 billion by 2020.
Last month Better Bites closed its largest and most recent round of capital — $1.25 million from angels investors — to help launch this new line in 2019. The funds will also be used to make new key hires and aid with marketing and promotions, according to Lopez. The brand has raised a total of $2.1 million to date.
Watch the full interview from Expo East to learn more about how Lopez thinks Better Bites is positioned for success as new allergen-free brands enter the market, and why she believes the soon-to-come line of diabetic-friendly products fits with the brand’s ethos.