Kodiak Cakes, a $200m overnight success story? Far from it, says co-founder and president

Now sold in more than 26,000 retail locations, Kodiak Cakes was recently acquired by private equity firm L. Catterton​ ​for an undisclosed sum.

Kodiak Cakes president Cameron Smith told FoodNavigator-USA, when he first joined the company 11 years ago, he remembers marveling at brands such as RXBAR which exploded onto the CPG scene and redefined their respective categories.

“The overall pancake category is $300m, the bar category is close to $10bn… There were times when we thought, ‘Man, why did we start with pancakes? That was probably the worst idea,”​ Smith told FoodNavigator-USA. 

Today, the pancake mix category is over $500m, thanks in large part to emerging innovative brands such as Kodiak Cakes, which have made consumers excited about eating a hot stack of pancakes again, said Smith. Even though Kodiak Cakes was competing in a much smaller category, the opportunity to build and transform the sleepy pancake and waffle mix set proved to be a major success and larger opportunity from their perspective.

“We kind of snuck up on everyone and established a brand in a category that didn’t really matter to consumers. We took this category that retailers saw as a commodity, they didn’t care as much about it, and we were able to bring back growth — double-digit growth. And what happened was, buyers loved working with us because we made them look really good,” ​said Smith. 

Retailers were able to draw more shoppers to forgotten sections of the center store, added Smith.

“It made consumers excited about a new breakfast offering, and it gave consumers a reason to talk about pancakes again.”

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