KANSAS CITY, MO — In 2022, the definition of a cracker has expanded beyond the typical crunchy baked good that’s been at the core of charcuterie boards and snack breaks. As innovation within the category is driven by diversified consumer trends, crackers are both the classic bakery item and crystal ball as the space — and its needs — continue to shift.

Joining other baked goods that defy their traditional roles, Reno, NV-based Mary’s Gone Crackers was founded by Mary Walden following her diagnosis with celiac disease 18 years ago. What began with a seeded gluten-free cracker made with ingredients like whole grain brown rice, whole grain quinoa, flaxseeds and sesame seeds has expanded into a full array of plant-based, better-for-you crackers.

The brand has gone beyond the original seeded cracker with its graham cracker offering, Mary’s Gone Kookies, as well as plant-based crackers, Mary’s Gone Cheezee. It’s had to partner with suppliers as the supply chain crisis bears down on the baking industry and many other sectors. Though with several seed-based product offerings and a brand commitment to non-GMO and organic products that also carry other health claims, one additional challenge hinders the company’s operations: climate change.

“Rice has been a challenge,” said Carla King, director of marketing for Mary’s Gone Crackers. “We used to source predominantly from California, but the California rice industry has been decimated by the drought that has come back.”

Procurement for ingredients became an all-hands-on-deck endeavor as King described how everyone on the small team at Mary’s dove in to work on sourcing alternative suppliers.


Eve Laird, CEO of Vancouver, Canada-based Eve’s Crackers, faced similar challenges with its cracker production. The flaxseed-based cracker brand’s entirely seed-based products also face challenges in regard to obtaining ingredients.

To keep crackers in production and avoid stressors that have pressured other, Laird worked with her co-manufacturer and “over-purchased” on raw ingredients to avoid the tremors a hiccup in the supply chain could cause. This security purchase also extended into packaging.

“We lock in pricing early on,” Laird said. “We did that for our packaging, and we purchased a lot that will last us a year.”

While her co-manufacturer takes the lead on procurement of ingredients, the strategy to buy in bulk is one that works in Eve’s Crackers’ case due to the long shelf life of its primary ingredients.

Both companies’ products focus not only on flavor and ingredients but also on better-for-you claims such as vegan and gluten-free. Working with suppliers to mitigate the uncertainty of the supply chain is not a simple task when potential ingredient alternatives need to be on par with standard product specifications and consumers’ quality expectations.


“Our products are certified organic, certified gluten-free, certified vegan, with the exception of the grahams, which include honey,” King said. “Your ingredients need to have all of these certifications as well.”

King described managing the challenges as a baker’s version of Frogger, the vintage video game. Keeping operations flexible means “hopping” from production of one item to the next as ingredients come in from suppliers.

While the company has been able to stay in sync with consumer trends through the release of the Cheezee and Kookies product lines, future releases will have to be staggered due to what King said the team has seen in the supply chain and ingredient availability.

“It’s almost like ingredients have the ‘Ticketmaster effect’ based on demand because the price changes sometimes on a daily basis,” she said.

As these brands continue innovating amid supply chain challenges, R&D and consumer trends add a new element to balance within operations.


Laird — who began selling at a Canadian farmers market as a product that stemmed from trying to find a solution for her dietary needs — takes a hands-on approach to consumer feedback.

Eve’s Crackers initially launched with three flavors: Savory Sunflower, Black Sesame and Chili Pepper Pumpkin Seed. The newest flavor, Cracked Pepper, was developed from a direct approach to R&D. By leveraging relationships with grocery managers and buyers, in addition to more traditional research methods such as focus groups, Laird was able to pinpoint the direction she needed to take her product flavors.

“I created Cracked Pepper because of retailer feedback and a couple of focus groups I did, and pepper is the flavor that people seem to want the most,” she said.

For Mary’s Gone Crackers, classic flavors have remained strongholds for the brand, but King shared that the team has noticed an uptick in demand for flavors that surpass the expected.

This is seen in the reception of the Jalapeño flavor variety of the original line and the introduction of the Super Seed line, which spotlights flavors like Basil & Garlic, Everything, Seaweed & Black Sesame, Rosemary, and Jalapeño. That feedback brings optimism for more flavor forward extensions in both product lines next year.

This story has been adapted from the October | Q4 2022 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full story in the digital edition here.