Simple Mills’ triple-digit growth thanks to tapping into ‘the current food zeitgeist,’ says founder and CEO

Gluten-free brand Simple Mills enjoys triple-digit growth

Gluten-free brand Simple Mills, known for its baking mixes, enjoyed triple-digit growth year-over-year after dipping its toes in the finished snack category last year.

The Chicago-based independent brand placed fourth on Instacart’s Top Trending Brands list, enjoying a 634% increase of searches in the calendar year 2016.

“It shows that Simple Mills’ brand awareness went through the roof last year,” founder and CEO Katlin Smith told FoodNavigator-USA. “When you consider that the brand is barely four years old and offered only baking mixes until a few months ago, a 634% year-over-year jump in Instacart searches is remarkable.”

In terms of performance, Smith said her brand enjoyed a 300% retail sales increase and 260% revenue increase across all channels in 2016. 

Product launches that boosted the brands presence

Last year, Simple Mills took a gamble and entered a new category by launching almond flour crackers and organic frostings, adding six SKUs and expanding beyond baking mixes for the first time. Smith attributed the growth her brand experienced to these launches. 

She argued that the brand’s almond flour crackers “deliver the crunch you want in a cracker—often absent from natural products.”  They are non-GMO, gluten-free, and grain-free available in Fine Ground Sea Salt, Rosemary & Sea Salt, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, and Farmhouse Cheddar varieties.

Other differentiators for these crackers included “3g of protein, a good source of Vitamin E, and a lower carbohydrate count and glycemic impact than most competitive products,” she added. “They already are the #3 natural cracker brand based on dollars sold,” Smith said, citing SPINS data.

The brand also expanded within the baking category, adding vanilla and chocolate organic frostings that, according to Smith, “feature half the sugar of leading natural and conventional frosting brands and are made with just eight whole food ingredients, including monk fruit extract and coconut oil.”

These products are now sold in 6,500 physical locations from Whole Foods to Target, and despite increased online grocery presence, Smith said that “natural and conventional brick-and-mortar stores generate the lion’s share of our sales.”

Propelled by clean label, gluten-free

Simple Mills’ frostings are vegan, and free of GMOs, dairy, gum, emulsifiers, gluten and anything artificial, Smith said.

“We are delivering what consumers want: Cleaner food with a focus on gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly products,” she argued. “It’s no secret that consumer shopping and food habits are undergoing major shifts… There’s a revolt against Big Food that’s being driven in large part by millennials who are searching for cleaner food options. And consumers are looking for alternatives to address specific food-related concerns.”

“Simple Mills products are perfectly aligned with these trends. We have tapped into the current food zeitgeist, and that’s why the company is growing [throughout] our distribution chain,” she added.

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