Milling & Baking News - May 26, 2015 - (Page 22)

News Feature Baking mix brand conquers challenges in gluten-free innovation ANN ARBOR, MICH. - Before Suzie Miller and Lizann Anderson founded their baking mix business in 2006, the Michigan moms shared homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with friends and family. "We started calling them 'apology cookies' because if we were late for picking the kids up or if our friends had to take our kids instead of us... it was kind of a joke for a while," Ms. Miller said. From there, Among Friends, L.L.C. was born. The company manufactures whole grain baking mixes that are Non-GMO Project verified and contain no starches, fillers or gums. Currently, Among Friends is in the process of converting all of its products to gluten-free. The company also recently debuted a new variety called Darcy's Delish, an old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie mix named after the chief executive officer, Darcy Zbinovec. And starting this summer, Among Friends products will be available nationwide in Target and Kroger stores. "About a year ago we were in a little over 300 stores," Ms. Zbinovec said. "So, we've had some nice distribution in the last 12 to 15 months. This is really going to make us more national. There were parts of the country where we really weren't in much, so this is going to be a big thing for us." In an exclusive interview with Milling & Baking News, the women behind Among Friends shared business insights and a few secrets of gluten-free formulation. Milling & Baking News: How did you decide to convert the entire line to gluten-free? Lizann Anderson: In some ways it has been a natural outgrowth of who we are and how we started. We started with a whole grain platform, and initially 22 / May 26, 2015 Milling & Baking News we really wanted to expose people to the whole world of grains out there that the rest of the world enjoys and in America hasn't been available until more recently. Our original oatmeal raisin cookie is made with spelt. From a business standpoint, it's actually very hard to manage both lines because people were getting confused about which of our products were the gluten-free and which were not the gluten-free, so when we considered what it takes to ramp up, we had to put our resources toward one goal. Darcy Zbinovec: For us, when we looked at our product and we looked at the competitive set from the standpoint of what we could see out there, we felt that our biggest point of difference was really on the gluten-free side. There wasn't just one decision or one thing that we looked at; we looked at a variety of both external and internal things and thought that was our best opportunity to start making the company into something that was more national. the world, "Hey, there's a little secret out there. You don't need to put all those gums and starches in your product for them to taste good." They actually detract from several kinds of baked goods. Cookies are easier than muffins, or, let's say, we have a cake, and there was more experimentation going into the cake, because, sure, it's not going to behave exactly like a cake made with white flour. It's really getting the right grain of mixes and flavor. Maybe it was just my stubborn refusal, but I just couldn't believe you couldn't make great products without the gunk. So I just started experimenting and found it was actually easier than people think it is. But anybody can enjoy our products, and if you don't tell them what it is, nobody would say "this is gluten-free" or "I'm missing something." There is no compromise with the products. Beyond taste and texture issues, many gluten-free products don't offer much in the way of nutrition. How do you do it? Ms. Anderson: I just said I'm not How did you overcome the flavor and texture challenges associated with going to create something unless we can provide a superior nutritional gluten-free baked foods? Ms. Anderson: It's interesting. profile. Why would I make something Sometimes I feel like I should say to that's actually worse for you because it's a lot of empty carbs? White rice flour is about the highest thing on the glycemic index. So why would I use that and tell my kids that's what they should eat? For so long, if you were celiac, you were just desperate for something you could eat. And manufacturers picked up on that and were just trying to replicate what was out there without really considering the nutritional qualities. Those days are over. When we first applied for the Whole Grain Stamp, Suzie Miller, Darcy Zbinovec and Lizann Anderson are the women there were not very many out there. And that whole behind Among Friends, a bakery mix business. /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Milling & Baking News - May 26, 2015

Milling & Baking News - May 26, 2015
Ingredient Update - Winds of change blow through ingredient fundamentals
Stay true to the science, grains group tells guidelines committee
Late News - Campbell baking and snacking unit strong
Table of Contents
News Comment - Asia trade pact crucially important to farm sector
Editorial - Flour output data point to eating trends
Late News
Business - ConAgra Foods to close Wisconsin cookie plant
Mondelez considering changes at Chicago bakery
ADM to acquire Chinese sweetener business
Ardent Mills showcases capabilities with bakery, kitchen on wheels
General Mills wants more from the core of its business
Kellogg’s Bryant: Signs show that cereal trends are improving
Financial Results - Investments a drag on Weston Foods first-quarter income
Post Holdings embraces move to value-oriented R.-T.-E. cereal
Post consolidating cereal businesses
News Feature - Baking mix brand conquers challenges in gluten-free innovation
Exports and Trade Issues - Growth in China’s imports of U.S. agricultural goods slows…for now
People - Former Darden executive to president of Panera Bread
Steve Cooper joins Schwebel Baking as chief operating officer
William Fife, longtime A.S.B. and B.C.C. member, dies
IFIC survey again finds people seek whole grains, fiber
Washington - The unsettled G.M.O. world
Weather Outlook - U.S. Plains rain puts end to multi-year drought
Guidelines timeline
Education and Research - Global warming seen causing wheat yield declines
Supplier Innovations
Ingredient Market Trends - Winter wheat harvest under way
Ingredient Week
Marketplace Business Network
Ad Index

Milling & Baking News - May 26, 2015