The London-based firm kick-started business in May 2013 with its high-protein sliced bread and has now developed high-protein bagels, set to roll out across Europe in January 2015. The product will be available across independent health stores, online supplement and health food retailers and a number of gyms in the UK, Holland, Norway and Sweden, among others.
Ray Brilus, managing director at Dr Zak’s, said the company had chosen to avoid mainstream retailers for the time being.
“We are deliberately targeting everyone except the multiples. We have had some interest from them, but what we want to do is build the brand and establish ourselves in our core market which is fitness and health,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Mass market, he said, lacked a true understanding of what a higher protein diet was about – knowledge that was going to take “a little while to flow through”.
Niche consumer interest
The target consumers for the products, he said, were those interested, active and knowledgeable in health and fitness.
“There are people that take everything seriously, from watching every carb and gram of protein they put into their body through to a more casual gym-goer just thinking about protein more carefully.”
If the company targeted mass retailers, Brilus said it would only drive these consumers out of health food stores and into the supermarkets, rather than generating new business which would be the long-term aim of mass market expansion.
Dr Zak’s would eventually shift into mass retail, he said, but not for at least another two years.
Interest in high-protein baked goods, he said, remained niche - partly because of consumer knowledge but also cost. “The cost of proteins means the retail price point of the product is at least twice, sometimes three times, the price of the traditional price of the product. Unless you’re really into your sport and fitness and understand what we’re doing with the products, the wider consumer is not really prepared to pay that kind of money.”
The tough NPD road
The company’s high-protein multigrain, seeded bagels contain 24 grams of protein per 100 g product and are made using pea protein isolate – like the bread – which is sourced from Europe.
“Pea protein is fast becoming recognized as one of the high, if not the highest, quality vegetarian proteins on the market. It’s got an excellent amino acid profile and it’s a complete protein source,” Brilus said.
The bagels took 12 months to develop – much longer than anticipated, he said.
“The real challenge was finding the right combination of proteins that would produce a product that a. tasted nice and b. that you could actually mass produce. A lot of the time we found you could do short runs but when it came to mass production of the product, the bagels wouldn’t proof or they’d be too sticky.”
Its flatbreads were still in development, he said, but also faced mass production challenges because protein wasn’t working on a mass scale. “We’re thinking we might use a different protein in these flatbreads - whey or egg maybe. If I had my way, I’d have all the products vegetarian and vegan, but it wasn’t to be.”
Consumers wanted bagels and flatbreads
Asked why Dr Zak’s had chosen bagels and flatbreads, he said the decision was in response to consumer demands.
“We have a common loyal following on Twitter and we regularly ask our followers what kind of product and flavors they would like and when we mentioned bagels our Twitter feed went crazy…Most of the people we deal with lead busy work lives as well as trying to fit in their training. There’s a real move away from your pills and shakes to functional foods – everyday foods with an added function, for example protein-infused. It just gives our consumers a choice and a bit of variety.”
Dr Zak’s is also working on high-protein waffles, yogurts and a long-life, ambient egg white.