Hostess Brands may develop new cake lines with added fiber, wholegrain or even gluten-free variants and it's not afraid of competition, its president says.
Hostess Brands is back in business after its bankruptcy in November 2012 with Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Cup Cakes et al. returning to shelves across the US earlier this month. And the new owners C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo have big plans for the portfolio.
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com, president of Hostess Brands Rich Seban said: “Innovation is a part of every successful company and will certainly be a focus of Hostess moving forward.
“We are looking to create new products in both the indulgent category as well as the health-orientated category, where we will be looking at a range of possibilities including products with added fiber, whole grains and, potentially, gluten-free varieties.
“In both cases, these will be entirely new products, not changes to existing products."
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the nostalgia
Seban said that any investment and innovation in these “beloved” brands must keep them fresh and relevant to many more generations to come.
Discussing the re-launch of the majority of its cake brands, the Hostess president said: “There was no question that consumers wanted the products they knew and loved back – they wanted the original. It was also clear that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage the nostalgia associated with the Hostess brand, and, at the same time, reintroduce it with a more contemporary voice and bolder attitude.”
Hostess is focused on reinvigorating these iconic brands, he said, along with innovating to meet the evolving consumer preferences with new products.
Pumping big bucks into expansion and NPD
Hostess plans to inject $100m into upgrading bakeries and facilities by the end of 2013.
The company is currently producing snack cakes out of four bakeries – all running at full capacity – but there are plans to broaden production, Seban said. “Plans are in the works for a fifth bakery at a yet to be determined location.
In the meantime, Hostess is working to ensure it fulfils orders to retail partners as quickly as possible, the president said.
“We knew this comeback would be historic and interest would be significant. But the demand has far outpaced even our most ambitious projections,” he said.
Sales have already soared to seven times any previous level and initial orders have been three to six times greater than production capacity.
“We are also working aggressively to support the brands through innovative marketing efforts, employing traditional and non-traditional tactics to connect with consumers who have been brand loyalists for years, as well as new audiences who are drawn to a brand with an inherent cool factor,” Seban said.
There is only one snack cake king...
Asked what Hostess makes of its competition – including products introduced to fill a market gap during the bankruptcy period – the president said Hostess has always been, and will continue to be, the leader in the snack cake category.
“While imitation may indeed be the sincerest form of flattery, the Twinkie is like Elvis: many impersonators, but only one king.”
Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Cup Cakes, Ho Hos, Zingers, Donettes, fruit pies and mini muffins have all been reintroduced already and Sno Balls and Suzy Qs will be relaunched in the next few months.