With time spent working for both RXBAR and Clio Snacks, Broome was uniquely qualified to start a bar brand of his own and found that the refrigerated bar category offered the most opportunity as a solo entrepreneur.
"Having worked for both shelf-stable and fresh, I saw that fresh and refrigerated was where the innovation was happening. And when you dug into the data, you could see a much bigger category for shelf stable with a million brands, but the category as a whole was really not growing and a lot of people were moving to the perimeter of the store where this health halo of fresh snacking was taking over," Broome told FoodNavigator-USA.
"Perfect Bar doing was tens of millions of dollars in revenue at the time, which shows that you can be successful in this space, but the exciting part was that there was room for more hugely successful brands."
Broome knew he wanted to create a brand that wouldn't directly compete on the same health credentials (high protein, keto, etc.) with some other big brands in the space (Perfect Bar, Bhu, and Clio), for example, but that would bring a new dimension to the burgeoning refrigerated bar category.
"No one had really capitalized on what in my opinion was as just as big of an opportunity, being a refrigerated granola bar. That was the whitespace I saw in the category," said Broome.
"The top three attributes people look for in snacks are freshness, convenience, and indulgence*, and we check off all those boxes."
From 'overnight oats bar' to 'chilled oat bar'
Broome knew he could create a fresher, better version of traditional granola bars, which are typically bound together with syrups and often contain preservatives, he said.
After experimenting for a while with the formulation which first tried to recreate traditional overnight oats into bar form but ended up with runny and ugly-looking bars, Broome tapped
into his Swiss roots by repurposing his mother's muesli (a thicker version of overnight bars) recipe made with fruit and nuts pieces instead.
It still took an additional hundred or so iterations more to finally create the first chocolate-enrobed Mooski chilled oat bar, which is now available in five different flavor varieties: apple cinnamon (the brand's first product), chocolate peanut crunch, oatmeal raisin cookie, peanut butter banana, and wildberry.
Mooski bars' main ingredients that give it its structure are whole grain oats, sunflower lecithin, and organic agave.
The bars are priced at $2.99, a price point that puts them on par or slightly below other more established brands in the space, said Broome.
"I think it’s a healthy price point because it’s intentionally premium but doesn’t feel out of reach. I think there will eventually be a price range of $2.49 - $2.99 depending on the retailer/channel," he said.
Success so far
Establishing a new brand is never easy, especially in the bar category where competition is fierce, and shelf space is tight, but based on consumer feedback so far gathered at store demos, online through social media, and direct messages, Broome believes Mooski's appeal is proving to be wider than he originally thought.
While most consumers have been females (post-college young professionals and moms with young kids), Broome is seeing men gravitate towards the simplicity of what Mooski offers.
"Men typically go for a higher protein bar and this is more of a guilt-free snacking occasion. But I’ve had men reach out that you wouldn’t think would love this," he said, noting that the fact that each bar is under 200 calories and 10g of sugar in addition to being vegan and gluten-free has drawn a diverse audience so far.
"From that perspective I’ve seen a wide array of appeal which is promising when you think about how big this brand can be."
Broome is operating out of a commercial kitchen where he admits the bar-making process is inefficient but has taught him a lot about the production process. He is currently in the process of switching to a larger ghost kitchen where he can streamline the process and hopefully make thousands of bars per day vs. hundreds.
While some larger brands have struggled to procure ingredients, Broome said he is still operating at a small enough scale where getting ingredients such as oats isn't a huge issue.
"I feel good about every ingredient except sunflower lecithin (which is produced primarily in Ukraine), which has gone up significantly in terms of pricing," added Broome.
In terms of what's to come from Mooski for the rest of the year, Broome said he is focused on growing Mooski into a household name within the San Diego and broader Southern California market.
"From now and until the end of the year it’s about scaling up production and approaching some of these bigger accounts. I have a path to profitability within the ghost kitchen stage and after that I’m eventually going to have to scale up into a huge facility or co-manufacturer if ever want to get into the Sprouts or Whole Foods of the world," he said.