Talking Food Allergies With ... Safe + Fair
Over the past two years, I have been on a constant hunt for safe and delicious snacks. And it has not been easy! Then one day I discovered SAFE + FAIR products and immediately became a fan. SAFE + FAIR offers a wide variety of products — from chocolate chip cookies to granola to cake mix to mac and cheese. According to the website, “Each and every food production lot is tested for peanut, almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pistachio, macadamia, Brazil [nuts], coconut and pecan. Other food allergens like milk, egg, wheat, soy, shellfish, and fish are tracked and isolated in our facilities. These allergens are clearly noted on packaging if they are used in our products or processed in our facilities.”
I had the pleasure of connecting with Jessica Grelle, SVP of Product Innovation at SAFE + FAIR, to learn more about the company and what’s up next for them.
Q: What’s the story behind the brand? Why enter into the food allergy space?
A: There are 15 million individuals in the US with food allergies, with that rate continuing to grow 20% year over year. At SAFE + FAIR, we are changing the food game for people with food allergies with allergen-friendly foods that are delicious enough for anyone to eat and priced fairly for everyone. Our co-founders — Dave Leyrer and Pete Najarian — have family members who struggle with severe food allergies, and they recruited our CEO, Will Holsworth, to lead the company and build a compelling business model that reflects greater accessibility to allergen-friendly foods. We started with kid-friendly foods and products that can easily be packed for school lunches because eating lunch away from home can be ostracizing for children.
Q: What was the first product and why?
A: Abby’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie? We wanted to make sure that the food allergy community could safely enjoy them as well.
Q: What is the biggest priority when going into the development of new products?
A: Because SAFE + FAIR is a fairly new brand, there are so many categories that we are excited to develop products for. Our focus is catering to the higher priorities, specifically in snacks, as we know consumers want the ability to eat on the go. The fact is the food allergy community cannot necessarily trust restaurants, so there is an even greater need for these individuals to travel with their food. While safety is the utmost importance, we also place great value in creating products that are also delicious and nutritious.
Q: How do decide which products to develop?
A: We have a really long list of products that are in our innovation pipeline, which is really exciting. We’re going to get to them all, but we’re pacing ourselves to make sure we get it right. You can’t do it all at once.
Q: What is the process for mass producing truly safe products?
A: We employ 14 pages of allergen manufacturing protocols developed with Merieux NutriSciences and are consistently focused on areas that could have the most susceptibility for cross-contamination. We also tap into key experts, including leading researchers at Stanford University and the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma, as well as industry leaders experienced in big food safety.
Q: Is there any difficulty to attaining publicity for your products or any resistance to them because they are “safe?”
A: SAFE + FAIR products are delicious enough for everyone to eat. We make products with packaging that people will be proud to share with their friends and family, unlike other allergen-friendly brands that are more medicinal looking.
Q: How long on average does it take to develop your products?
A: What’s really awesome about SAFE + FAIR is that we have our own internal R&D and innovation team. A lot of companies have to outsource, which delays product development. Because of this, we have a very quick turnaround. Sometimes, it could be as quick as a month.
SAFE + FAIR will be launching their latest product, Popcorn Quinoa Chips, in early August. Be sure to check them out. I can’t wait!