An interview with the founder of Ladera Granola, a Phil's Food Reviews Pick of the Week.
Last month, Ladera Original Granola, Almond Pecan flavored, was named a HIT new product and Phil’s Pick of the Week. Founder of Ladera Granola, Brian Tetrud, agreed to talk with us about how he has developed his product, why flavor profiles are such a focus, the power of in-store sampling, and more.
What inspired you to create your new product? Is there a particular niche or segment of the market you were focusing on?
My mother has been making granola for years, and everyone that comes across it falls in love with it. My mother is truly the inspiration for our granolas.
The familiar flavors of chocolate and cinnamon make our granola very appealing to younger audiences. The low sugar and relatively high protein content from our large use of nuts makes our granola very appealing to healthy and active young adults. The unique ability of our granola to span different age groups makes it a perfect addition to the household.
What makes your product different and able to stand out against similar ones? How important has differentiation been in developing this product?
Granola as a category has seen rapid growth over the past decade due to the transition for RTE breakfast cereal consumers to natural alternatives. We are focused on making this transition easy by providing familiar flavor profiles to these consumers while maintaining a low sugar content.
Most granola companies are focused on catering to a particular market via certifications or particular ingredient choices. Our largest competitors lack strong flavor profiles and are often saturated in sugar. We simply don’t stop innovating until that perfect flavor comes out that can meet are health criteria.
With such a strong flavor profile, we put a big emphasis on sampling our granola at the retailers who carry our granolas. We have performed nearly 1000 in-store demos with our own small demo team. This offers an opportunity for customers to experience Ladera and taste the difference for themselves.
What was the process like of designing your package, and how do you feel the final result has impacted perceptions of your product?
Our packaging and overall has evolved over several years alongside our products, customers, and ourselves. We are focused on evoking the strong flavors and low sugar of our granolas alongside our family story. The elegance of our packaging makes the quality of our granola clear and provides detail on our family roots on the back.
Does your product have relevant health attributes? What are they?
Our granolas are significantly lower in sugar and higher in protein than other leading brands. We use just enough sugar to caramelize our almonds and pecans, leaving a crispy texture and that fresh roasted flavor we love. Our protein content is higher simply because we use more nuts than the leading brands.
What sustainability efforts have you made with your product/packaging?
We have established strong relationships with our farmers to ensure that we can continue to source our ingredients locally as we grow. Buying local focuses growth on our local communities and reduces waste involved in transport.
We only work with suppliers that use recyclable packaging materials. This ensures that everything we purchase in making our granola is either consumed or recycled. Our packaging is made from #2 recyclable plastic that may be recycled in your typical household recycling bin.
Through creating a new product, what would you say were the most difficult parts of the process and what came the easiest?
The actual baking of test batches is easy. The most challenging part of formulating a new product is settling on the final ingredient list and proportions. There will never be an end of ingredients to experiment with our unique proportions to try. We’ve been working on our third granola recipe for over a year now!
Anything you would change if you were starting from scratch again?
As a company we constantly innovate. We are on our third version of our packaging (can you believe we used to sell out granola in aluminum cans?), third bakery, third website design and have been working on our third recipe for over a year! We believe that the faster we innovate, the more we will fail, and the faster we will come to the right strategy.
Besides your product, what's one out on the market that you admire?
I personally admire products with strong flavor profiles that are healthy and not packed with sugar.