A founding team of five friends launched their chilled fruit and granola bar brand five years ago to provide a fresh alternative to the shelf-stable, center-store brands dominating the snack bar space.
“We’re walking into a category that’s basically built to be shelf-stable from the ground up – It’s built around convenience, it’s built around utility,” co-founder Will Handke told FoodNavigator-USA.
“The whole notion that people can love their food in this space of the granola snacking bar category has basically gone by the wayside because it’s all about the numbers, it’s not about what you’re actually putting in your body.”
According to Handke, nomi products are sold in approximately 400 doors in its launch market of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and throughout the upper Midwest and East Coast regions.
With support from its original investors like AccelFoods who have been with brand since day one and a recently-closed founding round which helped on-board a national sales team, nomi is poised to become a nationwide brand in the near future, Handke added.
Shelf-stable ‘masquerading’ as ‘fresh’
The traditional, center-store snack bar category has been stale in recent years registering a -0.2% decline in 2017 compared to 2016, according to Nielsen sales data.
Brands like nomi have brought innovation to the category by blurring the lines between fresh produce and snack bars and providing consumers with a grab-and-go, fresh snacking option. What makes nomi different than most other granola bar options is that like a piece of fresh fruit, the product will perish if left un-refrigerated because of the high moisture levels due to its second main ingredient: fruit.
“Our product is built for the fridge from day one which means the shelf life is shorter, but the taste is unmistakable,” Handke said.
While nomi has a very firm expiration date on its label, there has been an increase in bar brands positioning themselves as a chilled snack even though the product may have a nine-month shelf life.
“If you look at some our direct competitors in this space, they’re fundamentally shelf stable products that are just masquerading as a refrigerated product,” Handke continued.
“It’s a great marketing move, but consumers know better once they try the product, and retailers also have to be honest with themselves on if they really want to use their valuable refrigerated space on products that aren't genuinely fresh.”
Since being on the market, nomi has pinpointed its core audience as young families looking for a healthy, fresh, snacking option. This target audience also helped lead to the name “nomi”, which is meant to be a bit of a play on the ‘nom, nom, nom’ phrase found in a bevy of online memes that’s also crept into the modern consumer vernacular.
“The idea of nomi came about as something that was very playful, family friendly; we’re not joking that we’re big fans of Cookie Monster here,” Handke said.
“Families with kids really became our core focal point and delivering on a fresh snacking option out of the refrigerator instead of the pantry.”
Handke added that ‘Fresh Bar’ was limited from a trademark standpoint because of the descriptive nature of its name, but will still be included on nomi packaging as a subtitle.
In an added effort to make its way into family shopping carts, the company has relaunched its multi-pack box for convenience and cost savings. Individual nomi bars retail for below $2, compared to its competitors targeting the elite athlete or high-end natural shopper with products that can cost up to $4 per bar.
According to Handke, the brand has seen 50% sales increases in one-for-one swaps of its re-branded multi-pack nomi products.
“The potency is there and we knew it was,” he said. “The growth potential [of the refrigerated snack bar category] is huge and it’s just coming online now really.”