CHICAGO — Otis Spunkmeyer has set its sights on convenience stores. The iconic cookie brand introduced a range of grab-and-go items at the 2017 NACS Show, hosted by the National Association of Convenience Stores and held Oct. 17-20 in Chicago.
Over the past 40 years, Los Angeles-based Otis Spunkmeyer has evolved to keep pace with changing consumer tastes. The business began with a single retail cookie shop in 1977, expanding to 20 outlets in California by 1983, before transitioning from retail to wholesale and later becoming the No. 1 selling food service cookie dough in America. Acquired by Swiss specialty baker Aryzta AG in 2006, Otis Spunkmeyer recently began the next phase of its journey with the launch of branded baked foods in grocery stores.
Debuting on supermarket shelves last year, the consumer-focused retail portfolio features a “No Funky Stuff” tag line and includes snack cakes, loaf cakes, mini muffins, mini cupcakes, and cookies in a variety of classic flavors. The “No Funky Stuff” tag line means all foods are made without artificial flavors or colors, high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.
The Grab-N-Go line, developed for the convenience channel, includes individually wrapped chocolate chunk cookie, iced lemon loaf cake, cinnamon crumb loaf cake and mini brownie bites, and features the “No Funky Stuff” mark.
“Why convenience? It’s pretty simple,” said Ashley Peeples, vice-president, commercial channels, Aryzta, in an interview with Food Business News. “If you think of convenience, there are 160,000 outlets in the country, so compared to the other channels, its No. 1. It’s also growing.”
While developing the product line, the company considered numerous consumer insights and trends, said Cayci Johnson, customer marketing manager, specialty markets, Aryzta.
“First and foremost, we wanted to do something that was quintessentially Otis Spunkmeyer, that we knew we could execute very well and would be really delicious,” Ms. Johnson told Food Business News. “Cookie was, of course, our first instinct because Otis Spunkmeyer and cookies are synonymous. It’s a childhood favorite for a lot of folks. They grew up with it, so we wanted to make sure we stayed in that lane. The average American eats 500 cookies a year, so we’re confident that that’s a s.k.u. that will be a success and will really resonate with people.
“In terms of loaf cakes, we wanted to find a little bit of whitespace. There’s nothing like our loaf cake in the marketplace right now. We felt very excited about that. We also wanted something that would cross over day parts. Your cinnamon crumb and your lemon are a fantastic breakfast, but they also carry over into the afternoon snacking day part, which from a trends perspective is incredibly important…
“In terms of the brownie bites, another whitespace in c-stores. There are not a lot of minis, whether it’s muffins or brownies, that are available in grab-and-go packaging, and poppable, sharable, snackable items are incredibly on trend. We also felt good about that crossing demographics. It’s great for kids, great for somebody that’s on the go who wants to have a little bite with their coffee in the morning or with their afternoon cocoa or soda.”
During the NACS Show, Otis Spunkmeyer also showcased its expansive lineup of frozen cookie dough, which spans beyond the traditional varieties to include a toffee crunch cookie, a double chocolate fudge cookie and an all-butter cookie.
“We are moving down the path of offering ‘No Funky Stuff’ options within the frozen cookie dough program as well,” Mr. Peeples said. “It’s not the whole portfolio yet, but we just began that in the last six months to a year to start to have within that portfolio no funky stuff.”
Looking ahead, Otis Spunkmeyer plans to continue expanding its “No Funky Stuff” promise across the portfolio of frozen dough and packaged foods. Additionally, the brand may add more grab-and-go options for the convenience channel.“The convenience channel fits us very well, so we have heightened our focus, brought in some folks that are highly expert in that area, refocused some of our portfolio,” Mr. Peeples said. “It’s a very good space for us to take advantage of our expertise, our capabilities and our people.”