Around for more than four decades, Bob’s Red Mill has long been known by consumers for its line of flours and baking mixes, oats, and other products, as well as its specialty in delivering organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free options. More recently, the company has broadened its offerings with grab-and-go snacks and granolas, including its most recent launch, Vanilla Shake Homestyle Granola.
Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery connected with Blake Isaac, director of innovation marketing with Bob’s Red Mill, to find out more about the brand’s history of innovation and its latest product launch.
Jenni Spinner: Could you please share a brief overview of Bob’s Red Mill and your relatively recent launch into CPG granolas and other goods?
Blake Isaac: Founded in 1978 and based in Milwaukie, OR, Bob’s Red Mill is proud to be a 100% employee-owned company, and a leader in wholesome, organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free foods. Their mission of “Inspiring Joy with Wholesome Foods” is backed by a diverse line of over 200 products, including oats, whole grain cereals, baking mixes, grab-and-go snacks, and more. In keeping with its mission, Bob’s Red Mill has introduced several CPG items, including Bob’s Bars, oatmeal cups and packets, and granola, which offer satisfying nutrition to folks on the go.
JS: Please share some insights as to why Bob’s (best known for its flours, grains, baking mixes, etc) decided to come out with its own granolas and snack bars.
BI: Bob’s Red Mill has been known for its whole-grain oats from the very beginning: we take the time to source the highest quality oats, and Bob still sits down to a bowl of delicious, creamy oatmeal every day. But these days, not everyone has the time to sit at the breakfast table. We listened to consumers who still want that whole grain nutrition, but need more convenient, portable options.
Our first innovation was our incredibly popular Oatmeal Cups. This inspired us to introduce Bob’s Bars in 2019. Combining our signature whole-grain oats with creamy peanut butter and organic honey, we created these deliciously chewy, on-the-go bars in five craveable flavors. Homestyle Granola followed closely behind in June of 2019 as another versatile way for us to reach consumers in the breakfast and snacking category with a simple yet delicious whole grain food.
JS: Could you please tell us about the thinking behind this newest flavor—what’s noteworthy about the flavor and the particular blend of ingredients?
BI: We wanted a classic, nostalgic flavor that would be a lot of fun, but also versatile enough to mix with all kinds of different ingredients. To kick things off, the R&D team sampled the top vanilla milkshakes on the market, as we worked to identify the perfect balance of vanilla and creamy flavor. We then took our time developing the granola, baking, and sampling batch after batch, until it was just right! Our Vanilla Shake Homestyle Granola is made with whole grain oats, crispy coconut, and real vanilla bean to create that creamy, lightly sweet flavor, while still offering the signature crunch that the Homestyle Granola line brings. It’s delicious with milk, and also perfect for topping summer smoothies, yogurt parfaits, ice cream, and more.
JS: Please tell us about the ice cream parlor connection.
BI: Back when Bob was a kid, ice cream parlors were bustling community hubs: unique places where people could gather for a treat, catch up with their friends, and listen to their favorite tunes over the jukebox. We wanted to evoke those warm feelings of community, but also create a product that inspired people to use their creativity—together! This is the perfect granola to set in front of a group and let them go wild. That inspiration is part of what makes this new product so exciting and special for Bob’s Red Mill, which is why we’ve shared this story from Bob on the back of the package.
JS: What sets Bob’s granolas apart from other products in this same space?
BI: Our premium Homestyle Granolas are made with whole-grain oats, real maple syrup, and nutrient-packed nuts and seeds, baked in small batches so they taste more like homemade. These crunchy clusters are delicious with milk, layered into a parfait, or eaten straight out of the bag as a quick and wholesome snack. In addition to our Vanilla Shake flavor, we created Maple Sea Salt, Lemon Blueberry, Cranberry Almond, Coconut Spice, and Peanut Butter varieties. Each flavor is gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, and free of soy, dairy, and eggs. We’re especially proud that they contain 7 grams of sugar or less per serving, and at least 12 grams of whole grains. While Vanilla Shake is only available on Amazon for a limited time, our other five flavors are available at Amazon as well as at retailers nationwide.
JS: Can you tell us about any upcoming products—expansions of your granola line, but also any other ready-to-eat cereal items, on-the-go bars and other snacks, or anything else would be great.
BI: For other LTO items, Bob’s Red Mill is excited about the possibilities limited-time offer products bring to the table, including experimenting with unique flavors and gathering feedback from consumers about what they’re looking for from the brand. With this in mind, the innovation team, led by Blake Isaac, Director of Innovation Marketing, will continue to explore LTO items in response to consumer demands, trends, and results from the initial Vanilla Shake Homestyle Granola launch. Plans for additional LTO products are not announced at this time.
For permanent line products, Bob’s Red Mill has some new launches in the pipeline that will hit the market in Q1 of 2024.
JS: Is there anything else you’d like to add or share about the brand?
BI: In celebration of this limited-time-only Vanilla Shake Homestyle Granola, Bob’s Red Mill’s Whole Grain Store and Restaurant in Milwaukie, OR got in on the fun! They planned a week of special events, including a complimentary ice cream bar customers could try the new Vanilla Shake Granola as a fun topping, a photo booth, prizes, and a special shopping discount.