This year Dawn Foods makes its entrance to the Free From Functional & Health Ingredients Expo. Right in time for its 100th birthday. The international bakery supplier, with its origin in the United States, provides tailor-made solutions for artisanal bakeries, foodservices and manufacturers. Dawn’s unique approach? Developing innovative ingredients and creating inspiring and tasty concepts, based on customer and consumer trends and insights – helping Dawn’s customers to make the special moments in life, truly special and sweet. Read the full interview with Merel van Zon, Marketing Manager BENELUX, Dawn Foods.
Could you briefly introduce Dawn Foods?
‘Dawn Foods is celebrating our 100th year anniversary this year. We started as a donut bakery in the US. Very quickly we found out that lots of people really liked our donuts, as people were asking for the recipe. Instead of giving out the recipe, we started selling the mixes, which ended up being more successful and profitable than making the donuts ourselves. We became the first bakery mix manufacturer in the United States with that move and from there the company grew and expanded into the company we are today.’
What is Dawn Foods’ message?
‘To inspire bakery success every day. We try to help our customers do a little better every day and we offer the beautiful ingredients, solutions, advice, insights and expertise to make that happen.’
What is Dawn Foods’ ambition?
‘We want to establish ourselves as one of the leaders in our field. Just like every other company. What makes Dawn Foods different from other bakery suppliers is our focus on confectionery, on pastry. We pride ourselves on being the expert in this area and have insights on the trends like no other. When you look at the market, we see that American products are very popular at the moment. A market we are market leader in.’
How did the crossover to Free From products come to be?
‘One of the pillars within our product portfolio is our Dawn Balance range, these are the ‘better for you’ products. Last year we introduced the gluten-free and the reduced sugar and fat mixes. This year we introduced the vegan cake mixes, in May we will launch some other, vegan ingredients. That way we have a complete portfolio for products in this segment.’
Is this in response to the trends you spotted or because customers asked for it?
‘A bit of both. It was something we had in our portfolio. But when you see the market changing this fast, you have to give your all to catch up and develop as quickly as possible. We are certainly not the first to introduce vegan bakery mixes, but we are the first with deliciously tasty ones. One of the complaints we heard a lot; It had to be vegan, but first and foremost it had to be incredibly delicious.’
What trends is Dawn Foods seeing in the free from, vegan and organic market?
‘We notice that vegan is by far the biggest trend within food and nutrition at the moment. Vegan and plant based. At the Horecava [Dutch food event] in January that became abundantly clear. We can see a lot of changes in the food industry. We do notice a bit of a struggle with bakeries; bakers question if they should actually move into this trend, if this is something they want to get involved in? At the same time, we see a lot of smaller start up bakeries taking the leap into specializing in vegan pastry and confectionery. They see this as a wonderful opportunity.’
And how is Dawn Foods adjusting to these developments?
‘A part of our portfolio is by nature suitable for vegan applications. We are working on how to better position these products. But we are more interested in developing the mixes that traditionally use a lot of butter and egg. Can we create the product without the need for animal-derived ingredients, without losing any of its flavour.’ So Dawn Foods works with a triangle, what is this triangle? ‘Yes, we call it our triangle approach; we work in a partnership with our clients and their retailers to create a product that suits the consumers’ needs. We visit our clients with food concepts to inspire them. If the client is interested, we look at how we can make this suited for their clients, often retailers or foodservice professionals. From there we create the ingredients and the manufacturer creates the perfect product. It has happened that a retailer comes to us inspired by one of our food concepts, wondering who makes these products. We take on the role of matchmaker and search our client database to find someone who can and wants to make it. We see that developing more than just ingredients but actual concepts that match current trends, making it easier to implement, is getting more important. A bakery doesn’t always know what to do with a trendy ingredient or trend. We are here to help bakers to be successful in adapting to changing consumers demands’
What can we expect from Dawn Foods at the Free From Food Expo?
‘We want to really position our vegan concepts, our gluten free and reduced sugar & fat concepts. And of course start a conversation with our clients, new potential clients and the retailer to see what we can do for each other. And there will be plenty to taste; so definitely come have a taste at Dawn.’