To be declared a U.S.A. Taste Champion by the American Masters of Taste national judging panel, especially when the category is “Gluten Free” baked goods, is quite an accomplishment. Yumbana was selected as a winning product line in 2017 and, since its beginning in 2011, has been committed to making products that don’t require self-discipline to eat and enjoy. ‘Yum’ is in the name and comes from the owner Christopher Lehn’s first creation, a YUMmy BANAna muffin. To quote the judges, “All of Yumbana’s products displayed exemplary quality for appearance, aroma and taste. They have demonstrated extraordinary ability in formulating gluten-free baked products that bake well and are delicious.” It was truly an honor coming from Chefs in America, the oldest third-party professional food judging organization in the U.S.
Chris started out introducing his products locally at Farmers Markets. But “launching a new business can be lonely and intimidating. Having a resource like the SBDC helps you focus on what’s important and lets you know that you are not alone.”
Chris recalls that the Aurora-South Metro SBDC brought the Small Manufacturer’s AdvantEDGE program to Yumbana from day one. SBDC consultants helped develop an initial business plan, including industry and market information, and align Chris with business professionals to keep the business moving forward at little or no cost initially.
With one $250,000 non-commercial loan for the expansion of its manufacturing facility in Castle Rock, Yumbana remains profitable and privately owned, growing by 50 percent each year over the past three years. Besides Chris’ full-time commitment, Yumbana now employs three part-time employees as baker, assistant baker and packager, with additional part-time help as needed for packaging and cleaning.
Since those early days seven years ago, Yumbana has grown organically from repeat sales, with customers choosing Yumbana’s growing list of products over the competition, and the potential is limitless. Extrapolating from trends since 2014, Statista, The Statistics Portal, shows that “In 2016, the U.S. gluten-free products market was valued at $7.28 billion, and is forecasted to reach about $16 billion by 2025. According to a 2017 international study done in India on the demand for gluten-free food, North America’s share of the global gluten-free market is projected at 59%. Unlike other diets or consumer food trends, gluten free is here to stay as the industry continues to increase in size with more consumers making decisions to buy gluten free.
Given the potential, Yumbana has a mission to become a premier supplier of the best gluten-free products on a national scale and offers one of the widest varieties of gluten-free products on the market today. The business will have its official Gluten-Free certification later his year, and hopes to establish strong distribution beyond Colorado soon. While growing, the business maintains a sense of community by donating product to the Task Force for disadvantaged families that need to eat gluten free and supporting several local charities throughout the year. Be sure to visit www.yumbanaglutenfree.com.