Set to roll out in September, the bread contains no preservatives and has a nine-month shelf life.
With gluten-free trending in the US snacking and breakfast categories, the launch is part of Bauli’s ambition to take panettone beyond its seasonal heartland – although Bauli USA general manager Luca Nava admits the bread is unlikely to overtake traditional American breakfast products such as muffins and cupcakes.
“It will be an additional product used by US consumers for snacking and breakfast,” he said. “Our market is growing and our goal is to have panettone sold outside the seasonal category and on a daily basis.”
Panettone worth $56m in US
Neilsen reported the US panettone market was worth around $56m in 2014, and Nava claims his business now holds about 10% of the category. Exporting to 18 different countries accounts for a tenth of Bauli’s total revenue of around $600m to $700m.
Bauli is also hoping to widen the use of panettone - usually a sweet product – with a savory version that will launch in September.
“You can use our savory panettone as a toast or as a base to create salty ingredients,” said Nava, adding Bauli will continue developing panettone products for the US market this year.
“Our main competitor has had an established subsidiary [in the US] for a longer time, so they have wider distribution than we do,” he said, “so our strategy is to be innovative.”
Bauli is looking to further refine its own distribution operation, which is complicated by requiring different channels for its seasonal and everyday products. The seasonal products are typically sold through club stores, grocers, and specialty stores; while everyday products such as mini croissant are mostly available in convenience stores.
“C-store brokers are different from grocery brokers, and we’re creating both networks in the last 12 months,” Nava said. “We think we’ll establish our final brokerage network in the next 12 to 18 months and will hopefully have 20 to 25 brokers nationwide.”
Bauli has also mapped out its social media campaign to increase US brand awareness this year, and has hired a Master Chef winner as product ambassador to help make the product more familiar to American consumers.