But does the world need another protein bar? It’s a fair question, says Bright Foods founder & CEO Brenden Shaefer, but there is room in the market for products with cleaner labels and less sugar, he told FoodNavigator-USA at the Winter Fancy Food Show last month.
“That was obviously the first question we asked ourselves as there are a million protein bars out there, so why does the world need a million and one?
“But there were two things that really inspired us. Number one, we had a lot of consumers coming to us asking when are you going to do protein?
“The second thing was as we looked at the fresh snacking set, we realized that everything involves trade-offs. So you’re either getting something that tastes good but has a lot of sugar, most of it added sugar, or you’re not getting quite enough protein, or you’re getting something that has enough protein but doesn’t taste very good.
“And as we looked at the refrigerated bar set which continues to explode as we know that consumers want something fresher, we realized that there was an opportunity to go out there and really play on the big trends, which are 100% plant-based, protein, and less sugar.”
Taste and texture
Made with nuts, tapioca fiber,* pumpkin, pea, and rice protein (to create a complete protein), and sweetened with apple powder, banana powder and coconut nectar, the refrigerated bars have 9g sugar, 50% less than leading refrigerated protein bars,** claimed Schaefer.
They also contain 12-13g protein and 280 calories, and are free from eggs, gluten, dairy, and soy.
The taste and texture is also different to other protein bars, delivering a smoother, creamier experience without the grittiness and sandiness often associated with plant proteins, said Schaefer, who is launching the bars in Whole Foods' southern Pacific region this week as an exclusive for 60 days, before rolling out to Sprouts in May.
In both cases, he said, "We've gotten incremental facings - in highly competitive real estate - to our veggie & fruit bars."
How much protein are target consumers looking for?
When it comes to protein bars, he said, “There are two camps... Camp #1 is, I’m eating at 10am and 2pm and I want satiety in a way that doesn’t feel like a brick in my stomach. The other camp is bodybuilders or people doing really intense exercise in the gym and they’re looking for 20g+ protein, but we’re not going after those folks,” said Schaefer, who said the sweet spot for consumers in the first group was 10-12g protein.
Visit Bright Foods at the Natural Products Expo West trade show at booth #H106
* The bars were formulated with isomalto-oligosaccharides from tapioca (which do not meet the FDA’s definition of dietary fiber), with R&D work conducted prior to the FDA's decision that IMOs wouldn't be counted as dietary fibers, said Schaefer. "We know that consumers value fiber, so will be reformulating with a different fiber."
** Perfect Snacks’ peanut butter bar has 18g sugar, twice as much as Bright Foods' bars. However, at 71g, is larger than Bright Foods’ 59g bar, so would contain 15g protein were it the same weight.]