Baked-goods giant Flowers Foods, parent of the Nature’s Own, Dave’s Killer Bread, Wonder, Canyon Bakehouse, Tastykake and other brands, said today that it has made an investment in Base Culture, a maker of gluten-free and grain-free sliced breads and other baked goods.
Base Culture was founded by Jordann Windschauer, CEO, who started making her own paleo-friendly baked goods in her own kitchen 10 years ago. Her business has since grown to include a range of 100 percet paleo-certified, gluten-free, grain-free, non-GMO and kosher products, along with 100 percent keto-certified sliced bread and almond butter products.
“We're really excited to be able to partner with a company like Flowers Foods,” Windschauer told SFA News Daily . “It's really going to help us from a knowledge and resource standpoint.”
The value of the Flowers Foods investment was not disclosed. Base Culture previously had received funding from Emil Capital Partners, which includes several food-and-beverage startups in its portfolio.
Windschauer started Base Culture right out of college, with no industry knowledge or experience — just a desire to create products she could enjoy. Her first products were a banana bread and an almond butter brownie that she baked in her apartment, created to “satisfy her own sweet tooth,” she said, and to create a paleo breakfast product, which was the banana bread.
She soon began selling her products to local retail stores, and eventually gained the attention of national retailers, including Kroger and Walmart. The company built its own 44,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Clearwater, Florida, not far from Windschauer’s apartment, to meet the rising demand and to maintain control over production and retain its gluten-free, paleo, and non-GMO certifications.
It currently has distribution through about 15,000 retail stores, including several national and regional grocery chains, as well as online through its own website. The Base Culture product line has expanded to include sliced bread, brownies, sweet bread almond butter, baked breakfast squares, along with its line of keto baked goods and almond butter.
Windschauer said she first expanded the company’s product line, based to a large degree, on her own preferences and what she perceived to be needs in the market, but the process has since become much more sophisticated, incorporating customer feedback and sales data.
Operating a direct-to-consumer website has helped the company gather customer feedback, Windschauer said, and also has helped build customer relationships with the brand.
“One key learning that I really embraced over the last couple of years is understanding the importance of building that relationship with the consumer from a business standpoint,” she said. “It’s important to understand that we're fighting to get people to place an order on our website, but once they place the order, that's only half of the challenge.
“The other half is the follow-through of delivering the products on time, making sure the right products get delivered, making sure we’re providing them with information on how to store the product and how to consume the product, and if there's an issue, providing great customer service and resolving the issue,” she said.
Having the right people in place has been one of the keys to providing great customer service, and has also been key to helping drive the company’s success overall, Windschauer said.
“I would say the biggest lesson I've learned over the years has just been to surround myself with the strongest team possible — people who know more than I do in their own respective areas,” she said.
In addition, Windschauer said it’s important to find people who share the company’s values and believe in the company’s culture. Base Culture now employs about 60 people.
She said she expects that the Flowers Foods investment will help the company expand its distribution even further and help drive more innovation.
“What we're doing at Base Culture is really re-imagining the baking industry,” Windschauer said, citing the company’s unique, customized manufacturing facility. “This is allowing us to really bring this next generation of bread to the marketplace in a big way.”
Article By: Mike Hamstra
Link to full article: Flowers Foods Takes Stake in Paleo Specialist Base Culture | News (specialtyfood.com)