While a strong company mission is important, it will only take a bakery so far. At the end of the day, most consumers only buy baked goods if they taste good and fulfill their needs. For Rubicon Bakers, its premium desserts hit on both these criteria — and are well-positioned to capitalize on the category’s emerging trends.

“If you look at the in-store bakery and fresh-baked category, really it’s trending toward smaller, permissible formats and lower price points, and very much toward premium quality,” observed Sebastian Siethoff, chief executive officer.

Rubicon Bakers is meeting this demand with its individually wrapped snacking cakes, four-count cupcakes and two-count cupcakes, while Just Desserts similarly offers single-serve cupcakes and bite-sized sweets. The company’s vegan offerings, including cakes, cupcakes and muffins, also appeal to a growing number of health- and environmentally conscious consumers. 

Siethoff added that today’s consumer prioritizes quality when it comes to their sweet goods and is willing to spend more to get that premium experience.

“I can see this in my own kids who are in their 20s. They have no income, but they will spend $5 on a cupcake to get the real deal,” he said. “And that’s the dynamic that we’re really trying to leverage on.”

John Clinkscales, Rubicon’s chief financial officer, credited the bakery’s ability to stay on trend to the strength of its R&D team.

“We have an R&D team in house that is comparable to that of a business probably four or five times our size,” he explained. “What that allows us to do is develop products for the market that we think are going to be on trend, whether that’s around premiumization, smaller pack sizes, more interesting formats or if it’s just around flavor profiles.”

For example, the bakery recently launched a Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cupcake that’s performing extremely well at retailers. 

“That’s not a flavor profile that really existed out there prior to that, but we have a group that’s basically working around the clock to make sure that they’re staying up on the latest trends,” Clinkscales said.

Many retailers now turn to Rubicon Bakers as a source of innovation and inspiration for their new products. 

“They come to us and say, ‘What do you think is going to be exciting?’ ” Clinkscales said. “A lot of retailers will send representatives to the Bay Area, and we’ll take them on bakery tours around the local cake shops to show them what we think is up and coming in small bakeries and what we think we can commercialize and operationalize on a larger scale.”

This article is an excerpt from the March 2024 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Rubicon Bakersclick here.