Launched three months ago, his 290-calorie 16oz high-pressure-processed Chimp Food bottles - which retail at around $5.99 and contain a blend of 25 different berries, fruits (including the seeds, peel and stems), vegetables (including the skin), nuts and seeds - are now available in around 40 outlets in the Florida area.
Chimp Food bars- which retail at $2.95 and contain only nuts and dates (380-cal nut bars), and seeds and raisins (310-cal seed bars) - are also available in most locations that stock the drinks.
Chimp Food is not juice: I tried juicing when I was trying to lose weight and I gained weight
The plan has always been to start small, understand the customer base, iron out any formulation and packaging issues, and then build slowly, Joseph tells FoodNavigator-USA.
“At the moment we’re still making the Chimp Food bottles ourselves [the bars are made in Chicago by a co-packer] and then sending them to Hyperbaric to go through the HPP process [which gives them a shelf-life of 45 days, but means they don’t have to add preservatives or lose nutrients, flavor or color], so if Whole Foods came along and said we want them in hundreds of stores tomorrow, I wouldn’t sleep for weeks.
“But I would love to get into Whole Foods. That would be the real test of our product. But I’d like to start with one store, then three, then 10 stores, and so on to see how things go.”
But just three-four months after launch things are already ramping up nicely, says Joseph, who started off by knocking on individual retailers’ doors, but is now talking to distributors (KeHE and UNFI) and brokers (Presence Marketing) about getting his products stocked in a wider range of outlets.
He’s also considering Amazon as he thinks the low shipping rates could help him reach a wider audience.
As for the target consumer, it includes everyone from Moms looking for something healthier for their kids, to bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, dieters and people looking to replace one meal a day with something filling and wholesome, he says.
And while the price tag is high, when you consider that each bottle is a meal, it's a different proposition, he claims, noting that consumers have already proved willing to shell out up to $9 for a bottle of high-end juice.
“We’ve been doing sampling three days a week, and it really works, as when people try it, they love it.”
13g of fiber, 6g protein: Peel, seeds, stems included…
The key is positioning the products correctly, says Joseph, who originally had the strapline, ‘Eat like you should, eat like a chimp’, but has switched to ‘It’s raw whole food that you drink’ and ‘Your super-healthy meal of the day’ to highlight the fact that his products can work as meal replacements, and that they are really foods, not drinks.
“They are not juices,” adds Joseph, who contends that drinking a juice-only diet is a fast-track route to diabetes rather than improved health.
“I tried juicing when I was trying to lose weight and I actually gained weight, and it spikes your blood sugar. When you eat Chimp Food [each bottle has 13g of fiber and 6g protein], because we’ve got all that fiber, the peel, the nuts and seeds, it won’t spike your blood sugar.”
I realized that none of them were selling anything as healthy as what I was making for myself
Chimp Food is not about ‘cleansing’ either, stresses Joseph, who is in his early 50s and says changing his diet transformed his life to such an extent he was convinced his strategy could work for other people.
“I tried cleansing and you just get into this yo-yo pattern, cleanse, and then eat pizza, cleanse, then hamburgers.”
Chimp Food also has a different profile to meal replacements such as Boost, Ensure and SlimFast, he says. “They have an ingredients list half a mile long.”
He adds: “If you look at animals, they don’t have all these diet-related problems that humans have. Look at chimps as our closest living relatives; they just eat fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and they get all the nutrition they need, so I started doing the same and the results were incredible.
“I was walking around Whole Foods and all these other stores and I realized that none of them were selling anything as healthy as what I was making for myself.”
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