When the PR firm representing Nature’s Own contacted me about the new gluten-free breads rolling out from the company, I was shocked and delighted by the news. I announced the product roll out here and and reviewed the breads here. I knew that the breads were selling slowly at first, but sales quickly jumped as the Metro Atlanta gluten-free set finally got word of the breads being available at select stores in Metro Atlanta and some outlying areas.
The first breads that I tasted were shipped directly from the bakery in Thomasville, GA to my house, so they were about as fresh as they could be. Until last week, the loaves I bought at the store were as good as the first loaves. They were too tough on the edges to make a really soft gluten-free sandwich, so Udi’s remains my bread of choice for that. I reviewed the Udi’s gluten-free sandwiches at Jason’s Deli gluten-free experience here and Anne Steib reviewed here Jason’s Deli experience for us here.
OK – back to the Nature’s Own breads. What is so wonderful about the breads is that there are no preservatives in them and they are full of fiber. In fact, they have so much fiber that some people that don’t get a lot of fiber in their diets might want to take it slow when trying the breads. Like gluten-free oats, the extra fiber your system might not be used to might give you symptoms that mimic those of a gluten ingestion.
Last week, I picked up two loaves of the Extra Fiber White bread by Nature’s Own at a Kroger that was selected for the test market trial. My Publix manager tried to get his store added to the line up and was told it wasn’t possible at this time. No worries, the Kroger is on our way to a pizza place we visit often so we just pick up the bread when passing by. Unfortunately, the last shipment of breads arrived (or were stocked) late so the expiration date was only five days after the breads were stocked. I didn’t mind because I freeze them anyway and use them for grilled sandwiches and toast.
The loaves were noticeably heavier than any of the loaves I’d bought before. When I opened the bread at home, I noticed that the bread was not like the other loaves in terms of texture either. It was tough all the way through and it wasn’t even sliced through all the way for part of the loaf. I’d read online that at least one person bought the bread and found it was molded after they got it home. I checked both the loaves that I bought and there was no sign of mold anywhere. However, the bread was not the same as it had been when I made toast with it. I had to throw out the part of the bread where something odd happened in the baking cycle. It was like there was a knot in the bread. I can’t really explain it better than that, but the area where this happened is the part that the slicer didn’t cut all the way through.
Nature’s Own has had a hard time keeping up with the demand for their new gluten-free breads. However, the quality of the product should be improving instead of going down. I’m not interested in paying $2 more for their breads than Udi’s, if the breads are not going to be consistent in terms of taste and texture. From a small company, these changes might be understandable, but I’m a little taken aback to see this happen with Nature’s Own. It’s true that gluten-free baking is unlike gluten baking, but consistency is something we’ve come to expect from companies like Udi’s. It doesn’t matter who comes out with a gluten-free bread if quality control issues aren’t in place. Hopefully, Nature’s Own will get the kinks worked out and improve the texture of the breads. If that happens, a nationwide roll out should follow suit.