The breads, which are gluten-free, are being touted by the company as an artisan, hand-crafted line that includes ingredients such as sunflower seeds, ancient grains, agave syrup and honey.
The company, which has its global HQ in Italy and US based in New Jersey, said it is the No. 1 manufacturer of gluten-free products worldwide and the No. 2 seller of gluten-free bread in the US.
New technology, new techniques
Roberto Cruz, director of marketing at Schär, told BakeryandSnacks that the company decided to “double down” to become the leader of the gluten-free bread market in the US.
“We wanted to go back to the drawing board and leverage new technology and build on consumer insights,” he said, adding that the table has turned since they first launched in the US in 2007. Gluten-free then was seen as a limitation; it is now seen as an advantage.
Cruz said the company was able to update machinery in the baking process and the recipe of the bread, going beyond ingredients like corn and rice. The company wanted to give the feeling of artisan over factory assembly line bread.
Using ancient grains to appeal to the masses
Cruz expects the company’s use of ancient grains to help consumers, even those who are not gluten-free, take to the product.
“It’s a world now where there are options just beyond wheat recipes,” he said. “People are looking for more diverse food in general and have more diverse tastes. Ethnic food trends are increasing. Baking with wheat is similar to eating vanilla ice cream. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream, but I think consumers are discovering their over dependence on wheat based production.”
Cruz believes the gluten-free “revolution” has allowed bakers and manufacturers to explore the consumer taste beyond wheat and bring in grains they “never knew existed”.
Will the trend continue?
“The growth is driven by the better for you eating; the growth will continue,” Cruz said. “Maybe it will be mid-teens instead of the 70%, 80% or 90% high range, but there has been a recent consolation of business that is kind of in our favor.”
“All of these grains have health and taste benefits for getting out of that plain vanilla world,” he said. “Consumers are eating better. It allows R&D to experiment and meet those demands.”
After launching in the US in 2007, Cruz said Schär does $20m worth of business in the US. He said the brand sell across the nation in 40% of the stores that sell food in the US.
The goals are much loftier, he said, adding that their end goal is to be everywhere. Cruz said they have aggressive targets for the coming years, including plans to double digit growth over the next five years.
What sets Schär apart from others on the market? Cruz said it is the dedication and focus the company brings to the production of gluten-free bread.
“Some of the mainstream companies may launch it as a line extension or part of business; our advantage has been our dedication to gluten free. It’s all we do,” he said. “We bring a seriousness and focus that many other companies can’t provide."