In late 2015, Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner, known as the “Queen of QVC,” invested $200,000 in exchange for ownership of 16.5% of Brazi Bites, a company that specializes in making a gluten-free Brazilian cheese specialty known as pão de queijio. Since that episode, the cheesy bread Shark Tank alum has seen exponential growth margins, growing an astonishing 4,551% in 3 years and making the top 100 in America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies.
Co-founder and CEO Junea Rocha first had the idea for the business in 2009. After missing home after having moved away from Brazil for a few years, she asked her mom for her recipe for pão de quiejio. Traditionally, this bread is made with cassava flour (which is naturally gluten-free) and a traditional Brazilian cheese called Minas. While Rocha couldn’t get a hold of Minas cheese in the US, she eventually developed a blend of cheese that she was happy with that became the cornerstone of Brazi Bites’ success. In 2012, she and her husband Cameron embarked on a nationwide road trip to get their product into hundreds of grocery stores around the nation. They then appeared on Shark Tank and sold out almost in just a few days after the episode launched.
Now, Rocha and Cameron are ready to bring Rocha’s pão de quiejio into one of the largest grocery chains out there. Three of Brazi Bites’ six flavors are now available for purchase in 222 Target stores across the country as part of a major test for the brand. If successful, their imprint in Target stores could expand even further in 2018, according to Rocha.
Rocha’s success with her Brazilian cheese bread business has made Brazi Bites the third-fastest growing food company in the country, as well as the fastest-growing food business to be led by a woman. It’s a pretty remarkable journey for Rocha, whose cheesy bread product is now one of the hotter items in the frozen foods section.
If you haven’t had a chance to try these pão de quiejio out yet, check your area to see if a nearby Target is testing the gluten-free bread out. Additionally, there’s always any of the hundreds of organic and specialty grocery stores, including Whole Foods, that are already carrying Brazi Bites.