Yes, Call It A Comeback. Why Innovation Is Key To Rudi’s Revival.

+ Jane Miller & Adam Hertel, Rudi's


They say that everyone loves a good comeback story. Rudi’s is writing the first chapter of a new one.

Founded in 1976, the Colorado-based brand markets organic and gluten free breads, including sourdough loaves, English muffins, wraps and buns, and has fostered a loyal consumer following at natural and conventional retailers including Whole Market and Kroger. 

In 2014, natural foods company Hain Celestial acquired Rudi’s from private equity firm Charterhouse Equity Partners for $61.3 million. At the time, Rudi’s generated nearly $85 million in annual retail sales, according to published reports. Unfortunately, brand sales and distribution regressed under new ownership. By May 2020, revenue was down to $35 million while ACV in the natural channel, which had been at 98%, plunged into the 30s. That month, Hain unloaded Rudi’s to Mayfair Equity Partners, which incorporated the brand into its Promise Gluten Free bakery business.

Over the next two years, Rudi’s saw two CEOs arrive and depart, but in October 2022 Mayfair enlisted board member Jane Miller, who previously led the brand from 2008 to 2014, to helm the company. Rudi’s also tapped experienced food and beverage executive Adam Hertel as chief sales officer.

Their plan to breathe new life into Rudi’s has evolved over the past year and came with the realization that sales and distribution couldn’t return to 2014 levels without a significant shift in strategy and investment in innovation. In this episode, Miller and Hertel explained how they identified the most pressing issues at Rudi’s and detailed its close working relationships with its retail partners to develop new products, including Texas toast and breakfast sandwiches.

In this Episode

0:43: Interview: Jane Miller, CEO & Adam Hertel, Chief Sales Officer, Rudi’s Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Miller and Hertel at NOSH Live Winter 2023 about their respective paths to Rudi’s, how they incorporated market research and consumer trends into the company’s innovation strategy and how they factor timing and retailer resets into new product development and what gave them confidence to play in new categories. They also discussed how Gen Z and Alpha consumers fit into Rudi’s business strategy and brand positioning as a whole, why “95 percent vs. 99 percent certainty” is a rule they abide by and whether they advocate for team members to have an entrepreneurial mindset or prefer for ideation and strategy to be generated by leadership.

Also Mentioned

Rudi’s Bakery, Jimmy Dean, Uncrustables