According to company lore, Udis Gluten Free Foods master baker Chadwick White has gotten at least two marriage proposals based on his recipes that have helped launch the rapidly-growing business.
If trends from the first half of the year continue, the company is poised to have $70 million in sales this year, up from $5.5 million in 2009, CEO Devin Anderson said this week. The private company doesnt disclose earnings, but Anderson said the company is profitable.
Demand for food without gluten the protein found in rye, wheat and barley is growing from people who cant have it because of celiac disease, gluten intolerance or allergies but also from people giving it up because they think it will improve their health or help them lose weight, said Denise Sirovatka, vice president of marketing for Udis Gluten Free Foods.
This year the company expects to have launched four to six new products, with a frozen pizza in the pipeline. It also is fostering a new food service division to supply restaurants with gluten-free buns and pizza crusts, and a third production facility in Denver is under construction.
Our goal is to give people a simple thing in life: the ability to enjoy a sandwich, a pizza, a bagel, Anderson said.
The market research firm Packaged Facts estimates the U.S. market for gluten-free foods and beverages was $2.6 billion in 2010 and could top $5 billion by 2015.
Udis Gluten Free Foods grew out of the Colorado-based Udis food empire that started when Udi Bar-on and his wife launched a sandwich operation in Denver that quickly grew into catering, restaurant, café and bakery enterprises bearing his name. After White in 2008 developed a gluten-free bread that was close to regular bread instead of being dense or crumbly, Bar-on and his son decided to build a national business around gluten-free food.
Last year E & A Industries took on a majority stake in Udis Gluten Free Foods to help it grow. Anderson, the food companys chief executive officer, is also president of E & A Industries.
Competition among gluten-free food makers is growing. Udis is hoping customers brand loyalty and its grass-roots marketing efforts, including using ardent Udis fans as brand evangelists, will help it stay a leader even if a larger company enters the market.
Udis wont disclose the secret to its gluten-free bread, saying only that the key is in the process for making it and the ingredients.
That leaves White, a skateboarder, as one of the few people, if not the only one, with the company secret.
I regularly hound him about wearing a helmet, Anderson said.