Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to chat with Danny Houghton, Carbonaut president and co-founder, about the company's origins and how it came to produce keto bread.

Liz Parker: What are the origins of Carbonaut?

Danny Houghton: Carbonaut just launched in January 2021 and is the newest brand from Silver Hills. The brand was really born out of a desire to take our expertise in the better-for-you bread category and apply it to the low-carb/keto segment.  We knew we could make a better tasting and better for you low-carb bread than anything that was currently on shelves, and so when we started our mission was simple: to bring consumers low-carb bread that tastes like it came from the corner bakery. In addition to the great taste, Carbonaut products are high in fiber and protein, use 100 percent plant-based ingredients, are Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher, Certified Vegan, Keto-Certified, and free of the top nine allergens.

We’ve had such a tremendous response in just our first year that we’re quickly expanding to new categories, including bagels and pizza crusts on the immediate horizon.

LP: What are the challenges of developing keto products?

DH: Sourcing ingredients that meet all our standards. [Being] challenged to create delicious, [low-carb] products makes us be creative with our recipes and think outside-the-box during development

LP: How did you become the fastest keto-certified brand in the segment?

DH: I think tasting is believing, and with that strategy we’ve been able to leverage the best advocates to help build the brand: folks who’ve tried and fallen in love with the brand for themselves. Through influencer programs and earned media support, we were able to not just share the word ourselves but empower individuals across the U.S. and Canada to shout our praises to their own audiences.

LP: Do you have any recently released products?

DH: In addition to the Seeded and White Loaves that launched the Carbonaut brand, we have recently added three gluten-free varieties—Seeded, White and Cinnamon Raisin—that combine the needs of gluten-free, keto, and vegan consumers. This year we also launched Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns.

LP: Any bakery categories you are looking to expand to? 

DH: We’re slated to expand into numerous product categories within the next year. Coming up most immediately is our gluten-free bagel line and immediately after that, pizza crusts. 

LP: What are some consumer purchasing behaviors in the low-carb category? 

DH: Only a small percentage of consumers are strictly low-carb or keto, but there is a much larger segment that believes that a lower-carb diet is a healthy approach to weight loss or even weight maintenance. We’re also seeing a small but growing contingent of people eating low-carb/keto who are also plant-based. Across all of these consumer segments we see the same demand for cleaner, more nutritious products as you’re seeing across the broader food industry—yes, they want low-carb products that taste like the real thing, but they’re also tuned in to the quality of ingredients and are eager to try new brands and products that meet these needs and make it easier to moderate their carb count throughout the day. Our innovation pipeline this coming year is keenly attuned to meet these dietary preferences. 

LP: Any predictions for 2022?

DH: We’ve seen tremendous growth in the category in the last two years and we expect that consumer interest will continue to increase next year.  As consumers looked to lose-weight post-quarantine this year and last, demand for keto/low-carb bread rose markedly, and I think consumers are going to continue on that path in 2022.  Brands like Carbonaut showed them that they can have great taste and still eat low-carb, and I think consumers will now be looking to brands to provide them with low-carb alternatives of other every day favorites beyond bread.  

Related: Canada’s Silver Hills Bakery offers its sprouted breads to Americans