Bringing Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Cup Cakes et al. back to market was no easy task as it involved expanding and innovating fast, the president of Hostess Brands says.
Hostess Brands has been back in business since July last year under new owners C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo, following bankruptcy in November 2012.
Speaking exclusively to BakeryandSnacks.com, president of Hostess Brands Rich Seban said 2014 had gotten off to an exciting start but getting to that point had been no easy feat.
“Bringing Hostess products back to market was truly a herculean effort. While the snack cakes have obviously been around for generations, this company was operating as a start-up, with many key operational elements starting from scratch,” he said.
When the products returned to shelves last year, the demand fast out-paced expectations, he said, forcing Hostess to strike tighter retail relationships quickly and essentially play catch up with orders.
Upscale, upgrade, catch up…
The company also had to invest heavily in improving production efficiency and distribution; an investment Hostess had upped over the last several months, Seban said.
“We’re making investments and improvements across all of our bakeries to enhance overall efficiencies.”
In particular, Hostess expanded operations and capacity at its Emporia bakery with upgraded and new equipment, he said.
The company had also taken on a number of senior executives with strong experience in consumer packaged goods and snacks in marketing and sales positions, he added.
Probed on the company’s R&D efforts and plans, Seban would not give details but said innovation was top of the agenda “We have been working on a number of new products that we will be introducing over the course of the year that will play to our strengths as an iconic snack brand, while keeping the products exciting and relevant to consumers.”
He previously told this site that future NPD would have a health twist with the possibility of products with added fiber and whole grains or even gluten-free varieties.
Keeping the buzz alive
Asked if the buzz around Hostess had died down, Seban said: “Hostess products have stood the test of time and the brand continues to capture an incredible amount of excitement and attention among consumers and in pop culture generally, as evidenced by the brand’s following on social media.”
The brands were also involved in a number of TV and films, he said, that kept them in the spotlight. Twinkies and Cup Cakes, for example, would be featured on the new Food Network series ‘Rewrapped’ in May and on MTV’s Snack Off show in late Spring and Twinkies would feature in the next X-men film premiering next month.
“Hostess isn’t just about American history – it’s very much about today. The fever pitch level of passion and enthusiasm surrounding the comeback made that abundantly clear,” he said.