Baking & Snack - July 2018 - 44


the same journey the Skow family did, and it drives a
personal investment in the products and brand.
"Our family eats a gluten-free diet, and living that
lifestyle has a significant impact on our product development and quality," Mr. Skow said. "We want to
make products that we enjoy and that taste good and
are healthy, so we heavily weigh in on that."
Understanding the family aspect of the consumer
base is important for Canyon because, as Ms. Skow
can attest, when one or two family members have a
gluten-free diet, the whole family is on board. "This
means we naturally have more consumers and people who try our bread - and continue to eat it -
just because they like it," she said. "And that's really
important to us."

Keeping up with rapid growth
Increased diagnoses of celiac disease and gluten intolerance in the early 2000s brought about heightened awareness of gluten and its impact on the human digestive system. It wasn't so much that more
people were developing the disease or intolerance,
but technology and medical advances - paired
with immediate access to information through the
Internet - put it on the radar.
News travels fast; gluten-free became a growing
trend and, some might say, has entered ubiquity.
This growth significantly impacted Canyon
Bakehouse from the beginning. In fact, the first
product launch landed the brand on the shelves of
Whole Foods in four states after one meeting with
the regional office in Boulder, CO. The bakery was
off and running right out of the gate, and the momentum never stopped. Luckily, Canyon Bakehouse
had at the helm an entrepreneur who's not afraid of
innovation in the name of growth.
"We found some space in Loveland, CO, and put
in a small bakery. [Co-founder Ed Miknevicius]
baked and shipped the bread, and I oversaw and ran
the company from there," Mr. Skow said. Two years
later, the bakery moved into half of a 20,000 sq-ft
space and took it over within a year. During the next
5 years, Canyon kept growing at astonishing rates,
and the Loveland headquarters expanded "campus
style," according to Mr. Skow.
The company leased space across the street, a
mile down the road and purchased another building
about 6 miles from the main headquarters. While
most of the bakery operations were concentrated in
the main building, downstream packaging - the
Above: Supersacks of bulk ingredients line up under the company's
core values, enscribed on the plant wall.

44 Baking & Snack July 2018 /

The art of product development
Canyon Bakehouse's product line began with
the staple: sliced bread. For consumers who are
diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, bread is the first food to go ... and it's
often the one they ate the most.
"We started out with those core items of
sliced pan bread," said Josh Skow, Canyon cofounder and CEO. "Specialty items have also
been popular with our consumers, but what
they eat the most of are the staple items like
pan bread."
As the company established itself as a viable
alternative to its gluten-containing counterparts,
more opportunities arose to create more items
that gluten-free consumers were going without. In the past few years, according to Kevin
Brouillette, senior vice-president, sales and
marketing, Canyon has launched between five
and seven new products per year. The lineup
has gone from six to nearly two dozen in just
under a decade.
"The concepts for new product development
can come from many different avenues," Mr.
Brouillette noted.
In fact, Mr. Skow recalled how Brownie Bites,
Canyon's first foray into sweet goods, made the
team. A national customer was visiting Canyon
and mentioned that gluten-free brownie bites
were the retailer's No. 1 and No. 2 sellers; the
only difference was the package size. "They
asked if we could do brownie bites, and I was
like, 'Okay, let's do brownie bites!' "
According to Christi Skow, Canyon co-founder
and diagnosed celiac, the new product possibilities are nearly limitless. "I tell people the
sky is the limit; the list is long on what I'd love
to have," she said. Future product development
will likely focus on meal occasions such as
breakfast and snacking, and the bakery is looking at more sweet goods items as well.

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