KANSAS CITY, MO — Entertaining at home looks very different today than it did back in 2020 … when people were essentially entertaining themselves.

“In 2020 and 2021, most people were not entertaining in large groups,” said Kat Palange, US brand manager for Dare Foods, parent company to cracker brand Breton. “A lot of those big charcuterie platters that were so relevant up to that point weren’t being created because people just weren’t having that many guests in their home.”

Snacking had already taken off before the pandemic, but in that new, isolated reality, it skyrocketed. Meanwhile, traditional entertaining waned … and snuck into the snack realm.

“People made casual snack plates, rather than large charcuterie boards, and dressed them up with crackers and toppings that made them feel more elevated,” Palange said. “It didn’t feel like the typical cheese and crackers, and we started to play in that space.”


The shift was a genesis of innovation for Breton as consumers started spicing up the everyday by trying new food combinations. True to the Breton tagline, “Make every day, less everyday,” and in the wake of restaurant closures and cooking fatigue, Breton’s brand and product innovation has gained serious momentum.

“Snacking has become more elevated, and our marketing message has shifted toward that,” Palange said, noting that Breton’s product size and shape are well suited for sophisticated snacking.

There’s a renewed sense of normalcy as gatherings are happening once again. And while snacking innovation went wild during lockdowns, it’s now infused into the world of home entertaining.

“We’re shifting that message back to a combination of snacking and entertaining,” Palange noted. “We’re seeing holiday boards with our crackers pop up on Instagram feeds, with influencers doing things like Fourth of July boards and more gathering-focused messaging. Our social media users also tend to feature our crackers on charcuterie boards whenever they gather, so that creates beautiful content and relevant messaging year-round.”

We can reach so many different audiences through our influencers. And we can get many different ‘micro’ messages out to different consumers who are following particular influencers. It can be difficult to get such a customized message across without using those social channels.” —Kat Palange | US brand manager | Dare Foods


While foodies are more adventurous in terms of toppings or occasions, consumers in the parenting space are looking for more whimsical uses such as creating strawberry s’mores with the crackers. But on the health and wellness side of things, Breton positions its crackers as part of the trend toward meal-replacement snacking.

“We can reach so many different audiences through our influencers,” Palange said. “And we can get many different ‘micro’ messages out to different consumers who are following particular influencers. It can be difficult to get such a customized message across without using those social channels.”

Discovering the new ways that consumers were approaching snacking and understanding those needs to be filled, Breton evaluated its product attributes and how they could appeal to each demographic group without placing a focus on niche diets that eventually fade out.

“There has been a big consumer focus on transparency, especially with healthy ingredients, and that’s played a big part in our transformation,” Palange said. “It’s something that consumers are continually looking closer at with their foods, and they’re looking for companies that care about what they put in their products. That’s why we felt it was important to continue offering a high-quality product with new claims.”

To better meet those consumer needs in the US market, Dare Foods spent more than a year focusing on the Breton formula as well as the brand to identify the right product claims and how to best deliver them.

“That led us down the path of looking at this from a product perspective in what we needed to deliver on the cracker,” Palange said.


Meeting — or exceeding — consumer expectations was dependent on two factors: Breton’s ability to manufacture the new formula and consumers’ ability to find the product on the shelf. That meant a holistic product renovation from the inside out.

“This is the sort of thing you only want to do one time,” Palange said. “We wanted to say to our retailers, ‘We’ve thought about all these things in the full picture, and this is how we see the path to success going forward.’”

Pulling this off amid industry uncertainty required a full team effort, ranging from R&D and procurement to supply chain and manufacturing — and everyone in between. That included investigating the manufacturing implications for a non-GMO formula, as well as readying the facility for plant-based and kosher certifications, including a full bakery inspection and blessing by a rabbi for kosher-pareve certification.

“The overhaul remained top of mind for [Dare Foods] leadership, and we kept moving forward with it,” Palange said. “Internally, the teams had to say, ‘We are not going to walk away from this, no matter how challenging it is. We’ve discovered this opportunity, and we’re moving forward.’ And we were supported in that effort to bring this to market.”

In addition to other capital investments, Dare also made a significant financial investment into the reformulation, including upgrading to non-GMO ingredients.

“All those things had to be considered with the reformulation,” Palange said. “There was time and investment needed, but the challenges were surmountable.”

Today, Breton’s design showcases the flavors on the front of pack, and the cracker is more visible, along with different types of toppings that go well with it. Dare also updated pack colors for Breton’s Cabaret and Grains First crackers, originally blue and white, to “Breton brown,” leveraging the entire brand block together.

The company also upgraded Breton’s gluten-free crackers to a plant-based formula and is currently working on non-GMO certification, projected for 2023.

Between trend-morphing, supply chain challenges and massive price increases for raw materials across the board, Breton could have been running just to keep up. But by reformulating its product and revitalizing the brand, Dare Foods has set Breton up for the future.

This story has been adapted from the August| Q3 2022 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full story in the digital edition here.    

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