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In Second Phase of Growth, Foodstirs Rebrands & Launches Ready-to-Eat Line

Carol Ortenberg

Consumers are about to have an easier way to satisfy their cravings.

Baking mix maker Foodstirs is executing a comprehensive brand makeover that includes new packaging, logo, tagline and formulation, as well as the launch of a new ready-to-eat line of baked treats.

Founded in 2014, Foodstirs evolved from a subscription baking kit company and entered retail in 2016. Since then, co-founders Galit Laibow, Greg Fleishman and actress Sarah Michelle Gellar have brought the line of cookie, cake, pancake and bar mixes into 10,000 stores — most recently picking up 3,000 Walmart locations. The brand is backed by Mucker Capital, Presence Marketing Founder and CEO Bill Weiland, Cambridge Companies SPG, Beechwood Capital and Katjesgreenfood.

For its first venture into ready-to-eat products, Foodstirs is introducing individual grab-and-go lines of miniature donuts, muffins and brownies in plastic wrapped sleeves. Each will contain either four or six treats and have a suggested retail price of $2.99 to $3.99, depending on the SKU. Product roll out is currently underway in Whole Foods Market Northeast region stores as well as Fred Meyer. The brand is aiming to begin national distribution in October, with the aim of securing placement in 2,000 stores by year’s end.

Fleishman and Laibow told NOSH that a ready-to-eat line has long been part of the company’s roadmap.

“It was always our intention to build a brand platform that could be extendable,” Laibow said. “We took the last several years building a great community, building a brand that people can trust and now are going from being able to deliver a product that you can use on special occasions and experience, to being a consumer product that can be used in your everyday life.”

That everyday use case, along with the bakery category as a whole, has benefits for the company’s bottom line, Fleishman noted. Grab-and-go items see much faster turns than baking mixes, he said, while the bakery section also generally has lower slotting fees and less promoting down of products than center store.To support the entrance into snack, the company has built a new DSD network, most recently adding Rainforest Distributors. Product will be delivered to stores frozen and then defrosted to be sold as a shelf-stable bakery offering with a 30 day shelf life. Freezing is a common preservation method for clean label baked goods, but Laibow and Fleishman said Foodstirs wanted to avoid the frozen food section, where the majority of these products are sold.

“Sometimes you just want a grab-and-go [item] to eat right away and comfort yourself through the power of these indulgent food items,” Fleishman said. “When there’s a step added to the grab-and-go experience, we’ve heard consistently from consumers that it just takes them out of the mode of wanting immediate indulgence.”

Along with the new ready-to-eat line, which has 50% less sugar then conventional options, the brand has reformulated its entire portfolio of mixes to now have 25% less sugar than the conventional competition. In a process Fleishman dubbed “sugar optimization,” the company transitioned from using biodynamic and organic cane sugar and brown sugar to a blend of stevia, tapioca syrup, agave inulin, brown sugar and biodynamic cane sugar.

The brand has also launched a rebrand of its packaging and mission. Regarding the latter, Foodstirs packaging will no longer predominantly sport its tagline of “modern baking” in favor of the new positioning of “Junk-Free Bakery.” A shift, Laibow said, that is reflective of the brand’s evolution from focusing on creating an “elevated experience” in the baking aisle to now being about fun and whimsy.

This lighter attitude — which Fleishman said is designed to be more “accessible” — carries over into the packaging. The mixes now feature a less cluttered front panel and an array of bright hues in place of the brand’s previously white and pastel color scheme. The new look comes via branding firm ptarmak, which also assisted with copy.

“We learned that we could dial up taste appeal and make the packaging more cravable. There’s also the Organic certification communication and making sure we were simplifying the pack enough to make sure that came through,” Fleishman told NOSH. “We needed to make sure the brand complimented people’s own ideology.”To further emphasize the convenience factor of its Minute Mug Cakes, the brand is also shifting from pouches (which required a mug or bowl to cook), to paper cups that can go directly into the microwave.

While adding some new products, Foodstirs is also discontinuing others, including its pancake mixes, protein bar mix and chewy oat bar mix. The company will, however, continue to offer its more elaborate crafting-meets-baking kits online, which, Laibow said, keep the lines of communication open with consumers and act as a “learning lab” for the CPG products.

To support all of these recent moves, existing investors invested additional funds into the business, although the exact amount was not disclosed. Sheryl O’Loughlin, former CEO of beverage brand Rebbl, was also appointed as a new board member.

Both Fleishman and Laibow maintain that starting in the baking aisle has prepared the company for this next phase of growth.

“We established the equity out of baking and we learned so much from creating a mix that could then go into ready-to-eat,” Fleishman said. “[Eventually] we will look to take the idea of junk free bakery into other categories that make sense — that need to be cleaned up without a tradeoff.”

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