Unbun hopes to make dough with Mr. Sub

The keto, paleo, grain-free and gluten-free bread-maker joins forces with the national QSR.


It seems like eating fat went from boogeyman to best practice overnight, shepherded by the popularity of the keto diet, where fat provides the bulk (so to speak) of one’s caloric intake. And more Canadians are pinning their hopes on keto too, with an Insights West survey finding that while only 4% of Canadians currently follow a ketogenic diet, 18% are considering taking it on.

Unbun Foods is banking on bread that’s keto-certified to catch on more broadly, and has partnered with Mr. Sub to do it.

The QSR’s customers will be able to swap out a regular bun on any small sub with a keto alternative, which is also paleo, grain-free, and gluten-free. The Unbun brand launched its product at Mr. Sub locations nationwide in September, tapping the brand’s 260-store national retail footprint.

Unbun Foods founder, Gus Klemos tells strategy that with Mr. Sub expanding its menu to address the requirements of those with alternative dietary lifestyles, including better-for-you Raised Without Antibiotics meats, it was a natural alignment for the two brands.


With Unbun Foods, Klemos says its main strategy from the beginning was to build the brand as a resto-focused product line (much like what Beyond Burger has done by entering QSRs with its plant-based patty) to drive and support its grocery retail presence. “Our vision is to provide better-for-you bakery products to large chain, food service brands that then promote Unbun Keto Buns, pizza crusts and tortillas to their customers. This has been our leading approach to garnering awareness,” he says.

The Mr. Sub partnership is a considerably bigger overture than the brand’s previous QSR linkups, which include The Burger’s Priest (which has about a dozen locations in the GTA) and BurgerIM, an Israeli-owned chain operating about 200 locations in the U.S.

Now Unbuns are available at 1,500 locations including Loblaws, Metro, and Whole Foods. Klemos says the Unbun line is carried and occasionally sampled in the natural food section, otherwise it can be found alongside other bakery products in retailer’s without a health-focused aisle.

The founder says Unbun Foods aligns itself with the simple food movement, with the brand producing and distributing products with whole, pronounceable ingredients that are transparently presented and are meant to be nutritionally good for you. He adds that the brand packaging is clean and straightforward to reflect this: “We indicate on our packaging that Unbun is grain free, keto friendly bakery products with our certifications clearly marked on the label,” he says.

Klemos identified the opportunity to target carb-averse consumers, growing the Unbun Foods brand organically and with a grassroots approach to marketing: “We’ve relied heavily on word-of-mouth support, seeded product to credible industry influencers, and have participated at trade shows to get our brand out there, including the Canadian Health Food Association, Natural Products Expo, and more.” Unbun Foods also sponsors food, health, wellness and fitness industry events, he says, including Veg Food Fest and the Great Canadian Keto Conference (a low-carb keto lifestyle and insulin resistance event).