Coborn’s said it is expanding the baking capacity in its dedicated gluten-free baking facility with additional equipment, as customers have been reacting favorably to the offerings.
The chain has introduced about 35 seasonal and limited-time offerings since the facility opened last August in Coborn’s headquarters city of St. Cloud, Minn.
“We’re adding some additional equipment to help keep up with the demand,” said Bob Leuth, Coborn’s manager of deli and bakery production. “The demand for gluten-free items has been better than forecasted.”
The chain continues to add new products to the line of fresh gluten-free items, he said.
“Recently, we launched an ancient grain gluten-free bread, which has quickly become our best-selling gluten-free item — even cracking the top 50 of all our offerings,” said Leuth.
In May, Coborn’s added an M&M cookie, “which we think is really going to further drive sales,” he said.
Overall, Leuth said Coborn’s has seen interest from bakery customers for cleaner labels with less additives and trans-fat-free items, in addition to the strong demand for fresh gluten-free baked goods.
“With that said, our same store doughnut sales have been positive, which indicates that our guests are definitely still looking for the indulgent experience, as well,” he added.
About four years ago, Coborn’s switched to trans-fat-free oil for its doughnuts, and is in in the process of removing trans fat from the rest of the bakery items that we sell.
Other successful launches in the better-for-you category include a whole grain bread that qualified for the Whole Grain stamp.
“That bread has been a real success,” said Leuth.
Coborn’s also recently added four flavors of whole grain cookies that also have a cleaner label and feature natural ingredients and butter instead of margarine.
“We are deliberately creating a balance between offering traditional indulgent goodies by developing items that taste terrific while also providing an eating experience that is ‘better for you’ than the traditional counterpart items,” said Leuth.
He said Coborn’s also is reviewing other lines to move to cleaner labels, and is looking to add more whole grain and “muesli types of items.” The chain is also exploring offering indulgent flavors in smaller portion sizes.
“This will be a definite priority for us moving forward the next year as we look at our product development,” said Leuth.
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