Founder Christy Goldsby, who has spent her life working in different areas of the food industry including owning a bakery and coffee roasting company in early 2000s, launched Portland, Oregon-based Honey Mama's in 2013 to provide consumers with a clean-label, superfood treat that could satisfy chocolate cravings.
Honey Mama's cocoa-nectar bars are made from whole food ingredients (raw honey, dark cocoa powder, unrefined coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, and either sprouted almonds, shredded coconut, or sesame seeds) and are free from soy, eggs, dairy, gluten, and grains. The bars are available in nine SKUs with flavors ranging from Peruvian raw cocoa and Oregon peppermint to lavender rose and tahini tangerine.
"The way that we view our bars is that we’re essentially the category pioneer that’s bridging the wellness bar and the chocolate bar [categories]. It’s a chocolate confection experience with all the wonderful health benefits that you get from a wellness bars," said Goldsby.
The $4.5m in funding from Amberstone Ventures will be put towards fast-tracking the brand with expanded distribution (it's currently in 2,500 doors) and increased marketing and sales efforts, in order to become part of mainstream consumer consideration when choosing a confectionery or indulgent treat, said Goldsby.
“We have extraordinarily high hopes for the brand, which
resonates with consumers who are looking for the indulgence of chocolate, without sacrificing their cleaner, nutritional lifestyle goals and objectives,” commented Alexander Bernstein, managing partner at Amberstone Ventures, whose investment portfolio includes Daily Harvest, nutpods, and JuneShine.
The funds will also be used to fuel product innovation launches over the next several months, Goldsby added.
Target consumer: 'The life optimizer'
Goldsby claims that Honey Mama's bars are a product for anyone from kids to centenarians, and over the years have attracted an audience of health-focused consumers who still value indulgence.
"Really our core demographic is 'the life optimizer'... a lot of moms and women who are looking for a health conscious way to be able to snack and indulge," she said.
Breaking away from traditional candy and chocolate categories
Not quite a chocolate bar or a traditional wellness bar (which is often protein-focused), it was at first a challenge for Goldsby to describe the unique spot Honey Mama's fills for consumers.
"The way that we talk about the bars with our buyers and consumers is essentially that it’ll become your favorite chocolate bar, but you'll find it in the refrigerator because it’s fresh and made with whole foods ingredients and no emulsifiers or fillers or anything like that," said Goldsby.
'Grocery stores are carving out more space in their grab and go sets for refrigerated wellness bars'
Honey Mama's bars straddle a line between confectionery and wellness-focused categories and can be found most frequently in the refrigerated on-the-go bar set next to other disruptive brands such as Clio Snacks and Perfect Bar. Other times, the bars sit in the chilled area of the bakery or in the dairy case, noted Goldsby.
"As the category continues to gain more momentum and growth, we’re noticing that grocery stores are really carving out more space in their grab and go sets for refrigerated wellness bars, and we have our own unique spot in there as an indulgent bar that’s wellness focused."
At roughly $5 - $6 per 2.5-ounce bar depending on the retailer, it's certainly cheaper and easier to pick up a Kit Kat or other conventional chocolate bar, which is why Goldsby is focused on making the bar as accessible as possible with a range of products at different price points.
"We're really focused on getting Honey Mama’s bars into more people’s lives. We’re very excited to be bringing out some fun new stuff in the next several months," Goldsby added.