Touring the spacious exhibit halls of Expo West 2016, one may find many iterations of chewy pureed fruit snacks, and at first glance, it’s easy to mistake Rawr Bar as one of them.
“What sets us apart is that we’re vegetable based,” Kaitlin Munoz, research and development at Veg This Way and one of Rawr Bar’s co-founders, told FoodNavigator-USA at Expo West 2016.
“We don’t add sugar, it’s paleo-friendly, certified vegan, it’s just a good healthy snack,” she added. "Our initial target audience is moms with kids aged 3-15. However, our product is enjoyed by all ages especially by outdoor enthusiasts such as hikers and bikers. We see this audience as an additional target for us."
The four flavors, Super Sweet Potato, Beet-a-Peel, Very Berry Kale, and most recently launched at Expo West, Aloha Squash, are all sweetened with fruit different fruits such as oranges, strawberries, pear, and apple. The ingredients are all pureed and then dried in a low temperature (which means they are not raw, a misconception that can happen from the product's name).
Getting their certifications
Munoz and two fellow co-founders, kate Mecozzi and Sabrina Muttillo, have no co-packer, and are getting things done the old fashioned way. “We currently hand make everything in our own kitchen facility that is free of any allergens,” Munoz said.
Working out of a kitchen in the Bay Area, the team sources their produce from a sustainable farm that can guarantee GMO-free ingredients. As of last fall, the brand’s latest line of Rawr Bars are non-GMO verified by the Non-GMO Project. In addition, the product is also certified vegan.
The brand’s gluten-free claim, on the other hand, is self-certified. “We use gluten free ingredients and produce Rawr Bars in their very own kitchen, where no gluten containing products are present,” the team wrote on its website. “In order to ensure our bars are gluten free, each batch is tested to be sure the gluten level is below the FDA standard of 20 ppm.”
The product has its origins in the minds of four Cal Poly Food Science students, two of which are Kaitlin and Sabrina.
“As product development began, the team found inspiration in their professor who talked about how hard it was to get her kids to eat their vegetables,” they wrote on their website. “Kids love their fruit snacks so why not replace all the added sugar and preservatives with vegetables.”
The team soon were joined by two business students, and soon joined in the incubator program SLO HotHouse to get their product off the ground.
Initially selling at farmers markets and smaller natural food stores, Rawr Bar is now sold in 30 Whole Foods Markets in the Bay Area, and is soon expanding to include South California. But an even wider reach is in the works.
“In order to keep up, we will also be working to finalize outsourcing our manufacturing and raising our first round of investment to keep us moving forward as we continue to gain traction in the market,” the team wrote on a blog post.