FFT Interviews Denise Sirovatka VP Marketing of Udi’s Gluten Free

Udi's Gluten Free Cafe - Day 1 - 2013 Park City

Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Udi’s Gluten Free Table

It might sound hard to believe, but the best meals I had during Sundance 2013 was at Udi’s Gluten Free restaurant in Park City, Utah. At first I was hesitant to even go to a Gluten free store, but after Udi’s persistent publicist got me to show up, I’m glad I did. I was so impressed with the food and the overall vibe of the restaurants decor and staff, that I asked the publicist if I could do a Q&A with the powers that be at Udi’s.

1. What is Udi’s Gluten Free company?

Udi’s is on a mission to offer everyone the freedom to choose delicious gluten-free foods.  Udi’s tastes just as good, if not better than conventional products filled with gluten. In providing a diverse, growing range of gluten free products – such as breads, rolls and buns, bagels, granola, cookies, pizza, cookies and muffins – Udi’s brings joy to gluten-free food, brings joy to gluten-free families, and brings joy to a gluten-free life. Delivering on the promise of delicious food without deprivation has made Udi’s the gluten-free category leader in North America.

2. What is Gluten? is it bad for humans? Are some people allergic?

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and related wheat species such as spelt and kamut.   It helps baked goods keep their form and chewy texture and is also added to other food items more and more, both for consistency and taste purposes. Gluten can be a huge energy drain on our system, it leaves our stomachs irritated and our bodies drained. The amount of processed wheat and gluten in our food today can be too much for our digestive system.

People who have diagnosed sensitivities to gluten can range in severity, from those with a mild intolerance to those with Celiac Disease who cannot process gluten at all and suffer severe consequences. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where gluten triggers the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine.

3. Is there a gluten free movement? If yes, what is it, and who is a part of it?

VP of Marketing at Udi's Granola and Gluten Free Foods Denise Sirovatka and TV personality Mario Lopez attend Udi's Gluten Free Cafe on January 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Udi's Gluten Free Table)

VP of Marketing at Udi’s Granola and Gluten Free Foods Denise Sirovatka and TV personality Mario Lopez attend Udi’s Gluten Free Cafe on January 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Udi’s Gluten Free Table)

More than 21 million U.S. households are eating gluten free. This lifestyle is no longer just for sick people, characterized by deterring medical jargon like “Celiac disease” and “gluten intolerance.”   More and more people in all age groups and demographics are finding it’s a long-term solution for a healthier, happier life. A 2010 study showed a majority of committed gluten free consumers, 45 percent, are self-diagnosed. These consumers have figured out on their own that maintaining a gluten free diet makes them feel better, but have not been officially diagnosed with a gluten-sensitivity.

The trend does seem to be led by the health-conscious West Coast with progressive foodies and celebrity trendsetters. For instance, Google searches for “gluten free” for West Coast cities such as Portland, Seattle and San Francisco index 20–30 points higher than East Coast cities like New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. And, celebrities were already actively speaking out about the lifestyle, from talk show host Elisabeth Hasselbeck and President Bill Clinton to actress Jenny McCarthy and NFL quarterback Drew Brees. Chelsea Clinton even had a gluten free cake at her wedding.

Between 2004 and 2010, the gluten-free category in the U.S. grew by 28 percent, and projections indicate an estimated 16 percent increase from 2010-2015, making it a $5.5 billion-dollar industry.

4. Why does Udi’s have a presence in Park City, Utah during the Sundance film festival?

Building relationships with Hollywood tastemakers at Sundance gives Udi’s the chance to exchange trend-setting ideas and stay at the forefront of the gluten free movement The growing number of gluten free celebrities here exemplify what it means to live a full, happy gluten free life as you travel, ski, work and still remain health conscious. Udi’s helps make that possible for stars and consumers alike by providing delicious, wholesome gluten free options.

5. What type of dairy free food is on the menu that you’re offering to Sundance goers?·                Garden Stuffed Tomato with Udi’s Bread Crumbs

·                Trio of Hummus, White Bean Dip, and Eggplant Tapenade served with a basket of Udi’s Whole Grain Dinner Rolls and Toasted Baguette

·                Gourmet Burger on Udi’s Gluten Free Bun served with House-made Pickled Red Onions, Tomato, Lettuce, Sauteed Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Candied Bacon

6. What type of social media is your company doing?

Udi’s has the largest gluten free Facebook community with nearly 1 million fans and counting. In fact, across all channels, more than half of online conversations about gluten free mention Udi’s. Currently, Udi’s manages large, engaged and loyal communities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest and a blog. In all cases, people following a gluten free lifestyle share stories, recipes, challenges and joys, and participate in fun contests or promotions from the brand.   For example, at Sundance, the social media team offered exclusive invites to Udi’s Gluten Free table where people could enjoy a gluten free meal alongside celebs.

7. Udi’s have any new gluten free food coming out this year?

Udi’s plans to launch approximately 20 new products in 2013.

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