The surge in food allergies is molding the culinary scenery, reshaping a once-ignored issue into a major focus within the food industry.
Cookie brand Partake is stepping up to address this challenge, providing consumers with a solution that enables them to savor and indulge in treats that might have been off-limits due to peanut allergies or eggs.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Denise Woodard, founder and CEO of Partake, delves into how her brand is tackling allergies and making treats enjoyed by many accessible to all. She also explores the role played by distribution channels like Amazon in making this vision a reality.
“When I came up with the name Partake, it revolved around the idea of wanting individuals with food allergies and dietary restrictions to safely partake,” Woodard said.
“As I embarked on this journey — transitioning from corporate America, navigating the challenges of being a first-time founder, and being a woman and a person of color — I began to recognize the numerous groups of people who don’t have the opportunity to partake. Consequently, I started viewing the company and our mission as a vehicle for radical inclusivity.”
The surge in food allergies has generated a need for allergen-friendly options. This demand is global, with about half a billion people worldwide, including nearly 85 million in the United States in 2020, seeking allergen-free foods.
Addressing a pressing need, such as food allergies, fosters a deeper connection with consumers. Brands can meet the dietary requirements of their customers and cultivate a sense of loyalty.
But as more brands are drawn to niche problems, it can quickly become a saturated market — with both big and small companies competing against each other.
“As a small business competing against larger, well-established competitors with more capital, it’s an ongoing challenge,” Woodard said.
“This becomes particularly pronounced in today’s market, where funding is harder to secure for startups, posing difficulties for small businesses. Amazon, however, simplifies the process for customers to support small enterprises like Partake, creating a significant positive impact for businesses of its size.”
Woodard noted a trend of tightened consumer spending due to macroeconomic challenges. Despite this, initiatives like Prime Day, featuring discounts, provide consumers with an opportunity to stock up on Partake’s products. Programs like “Subscribe and Save” not only offer the brand’s products but also provide added value to consumers.
With consumers becoming more conscious of their spending choices and favoring brands that align with their values, Woodard highlighted Partake’s use of its Amazon page to share additional content. This content includes videos and stories about the brand’s mission.
“I think about accessibility — considering that individuals with food allergies may face challenges in obtaining safe products for their families, be it due to geographical constraints or pricing issues. And so I love that Amazon allows us to meet consumers where they are,” Woodard said.
Woodard said that during the recent Prime Day event, Partake encountered its most substantial brand moment on Amazon this year. The company reached an all-time high for its business in a single day, a surge of over 400%, precisely 423%, compared to its typical two-day average.
Woodard also mentioned a collaboration with DoubleTree hotels, which she said is known for their warm chocolate chip cookies at check-in. Acknowledging the limitations for individuals with dietary restrictions to enjoy this experience, a co-branded product has been developed — a soft chocolate chip cookie featuring both the DoubleTree and Partake labels.
Empowering consumers to personalize their experience creates a sense of ownership and bolsters brand loyalty. By allowing customers to tailor their choices based on dietary preferences, brands foster a deeper connection.
With that in mind, Partake has leaned into its community to better understand how to take its offering to the next level.
Partake has expanded its product lineup to include graham crackers, a response to consumer feedback. Addressing concerns about allergy-friendly products on the go, Partake introduced a snack pack designed for purses, lunchboxes, and backpacks.
“We are constantly staying close to our community, whether it be through social media — we read every single social media comment — we read every single email, have a chat with every customer who calls in,” Woodard said. “What’s the most valuable thing we can have is our consumer feedback. That’s what drives our business.”