UnBun Foods is now offering its products in more than 300 locations throughout the United States and Canada. That’s up from just three locations at the beginning of the year, a massive hundred-fold increase.
Unbun Foods is a Toronto-based baked goods company offering certified keto, paleo, grain-free & gluten-free buns that actually taste delicious. Its products are now available in stores and restaurants including Whole Foods, The Burger’s Priest, Erewhon Natural Foods and elsewhere. In addition, customers can order unBun’s products via its website at www.ketobuns.com.
The paleo diet consists of meat, fish, fresh produce, nuts & seeds, and healthy fats & oils, and is increasingly being followed by consumers who are leading a healthy lifestyle. One indicator of the size of the market for paleo products is the recent announcement by foodservice giant Kraft Heinz that it plans to buy paleo condiment and dressing company Primal Kitchen for about $200 million. In addition, research firm Future Market Insights projects the market for almond flour, a key ingredient in unBun’s products, will grow and a compound annual rate of 8.3 percent over the next 10 years.
Although unBun officially launched in late 2017, the company’s story begins a year earlier in the one-bedroom apartment of founder Gus Klemos. He wanted to be able to enjoy his favorite burgers and sandwiches, but without the guilt, gluten and empty carbs typically associated with buns made from processed white flour. He identified several problems with the gluten-free and low-carb options available in restaurants and grocery stores:
- Gluten-free options are essentially the equivalent of sugar, preservatives, and chemical binders/gums.
- Messy, unsatisfying “lettuce buns” are typically the only available low-carb option, if any.
- Most gluten-free, low-carb options are unsatisfying at best and terrible-tasting at worst.
“The types of gluten-free buns that are meant to be considered healthy have no resemblance to anything healthy when you actually look at the ingredients,” Klemos says.
“And let’s be honest, no one should ever have to call lettuce a bun,” he says. “If you've ever had a burger or a sandwich with a couple of pieces of lettuce around it, underwhelming and sloppy would be the best things you could say about it.”
Having grown up in his parent’s diner, cooking his whole life and baking himself, Klemos began working to create a product that was healthy and still tasted good. He initially just baked his buns for himself and his friends but was soon persuaded to offer his products to the public, realizing that with the rising popularity of low-carb diets such as paleo and ketogenic there was an opportunity to serve these markets as well as the gluten-free, grain-free and general health-conscious community.
“I come from a tech background, so I built a website offering my products,” Klemos adds.
“My favorite burger chain in Toronto, The Burger’s Priest, decided to begin carrying our buns after evaluating every gluten-free option out there,” he says. “The day I got my first purchase order, which was Jan. 24, 2018, I quit my tech job and began baking buns full-time.”
Another pivotal moment in the unBun story happened in the summer of 2018, when the iconic Los Angeles-based grocery store Erewhon Natural Foods began carrying unBun’s baked goods. Other stores soon followed, and the company’s biggest challenge became keeping up with demand.
UnBun’s products are made with almond and coconut flour and contain no added sugar. They are currently offered in both mini-baguette and traditional sandwich bun styles. A vegan option is available as well.
Looking ahead to 2019, unBun expects its growth to continue and even accelerate. With Americans consuming more than 50 billion burgers each year and the demand for gluten-free, grain-free, keto and sugar-free food options booming, the market for unBun’s product is virtually untapped.
“The growing percentage of keto, paleo & gluten-free diners now have a way to enjoy all of their favorite foods without cheating, breaking their diets or exposing themselves to ingredients they’re intolerant to,” Klemos says. “The customers are out there, and being able to serve them will be a competitive differentiator for anyone who carries this product.”