Nearly one in 100 Americans will be diagnosed with celiac disease this year. That’s bad news, but the resulting gluten-free trend has been good news for Vermont business Liz Lovely, Inc.
In 2008, the cookie company was on the brink of going under. According to CEO “Cowboy” Dan Holtz, husband of company founder Liz Holtz, part of its recovery plan was catering to the gluten-free crowd. In the past two years, he reports, Liz Lovely has increased its sales by 50 percent. Sales of gluten-free desserts now outstrip those of conventional cookies.
Thanks to the company’s stunning revival, Liz Lovely is baking close to 4000 cookies a day. The factory in Waitsfield’s Irasville Business Park, formerly Mad River Canoe, is expanding from 2500 square feet to 4000. The additional space will house new offices, a gym for employees and room for four full-time bakers. The Holtzes are currently looking for a new bakery supervisor and a baker, so that Liz can manage her company without working the line.
Financial security is giving the couple leeway to experiment with green packaging, too. In 2011, Dan Holtz expects to switch from selling pairs of cookies in plastic to offering single servings in bags made from a wood-pulp-based plastic alternative.