Cibo Vita stays ahead in ‘smart snacking’ with scientific backing, cutting-edge tech

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Cibo Vita
Source: Cibo Vita

Related tags Snacks

A self-declared leader in the “smart snacking movement,” Cibo Vita stays ahead of the competition in an increasing saturated category by developing products with “more scientific backing,” adding functional benefits to popular categories without them and prioritizing taste and convenience, company leaders told FoodNavigator-USA.

“When we started this business back in 2009, the whole idea was to sell natural, functional snacks to US consumer. The whole purpose was to teach America to eat healthy and better-for-you products,” which were not as prevalent as they are today, CEO Emre Imamoglu said.

Cibo Vita​ began by making healthier trail mixes, available in single-serve packages that included educational callouts about the functional health benefits of key ingredients.

As the better-for-you snack space grew and more healthy trail mix brands entered the space, Cibo Vita has been able to maintain its pole position by “shifting into more disruptive, different and unique items that can create incremental sales within the category,” Imamoglu said.

AnaBio’s technology opened new avenues for innovation

A turning point for the company was when it began using the encapsulated technology offered by AnaBio to deliver functional benefits from sensitive ingredients in new formats, such as the probiotics in the yogurt coating of its recently expanded fruit bites brand Probiotic Yoggies, Imamoglu said.

Sold under Cibo Vita’s Nature’s Garden​ brand, the award-winning Probiotic Yoggies contain 2 billion live probiotic cultures, 3 grams of prebiotic fiber and 80 calories per serving.

“We know that the snack market today is incredibly saturated, so we always try to have an edge. And one way to do that is we …develop products that have a lot more scientific backing, and which use technology to put us in our own market,” Aiden Mould, senior brand manager for Nature’s Garden, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“That is something you see with Yoggies,” he added.

He explained that unlike other shelf-stable snacks that rely on spore-forming probiotics, Yoggies use AnaBio’s microencapsulation technology to safely maintain and deliver through a shelf stable snack the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG​.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG​ is one of the most researched probiotics in the world,” but it is sensitive to temperature variations – limiting its application, until now, said SVP Strategy & Innovation Samil Ozavar.

AnaBio’s EnCaptiums technology allowed Cibo Vita to use in a shelf stable snack the specific probiotic strain it wanted by coating the probiotic with a protein at a microscopic level that protects it from high temperatures typical of ultra-high temperature or alternative heat treatment processes. The technology also protects the probiotics from moisture and prevents them from growing during storage even at an ambient temperature for up to 12 months.

The coating also protects the probiotics from breaking down prematurely in the digestive process so that they are able to pass through the stomach and are released “at the right space,” Ozavar said.

“This fantastic technology really sets us apart from all the other probiotic snacks in the space,” he added.

Yoggies combine indulgence and functional benefits

Cibo Vita also stays ahead of the competition by offering functional benefits in categories that historically have focused on indulgence rather than health – like the fruit snack category, Mould said.

“We look at markets that already exist and say, ‘How can we create a more functional product? How can we create a product in a space that is not servicing what consumers want at that moment?’ And that is where our trend research feeds into AI innovation at the same time,” he explained.

This approach brought the company into the dried fruit and snack fruit category, which “was something we did not really plan before, but we spent some time monitoring the markets and found that it is a massive category worth $14 billion,” he added.

Yoggies are ‘the epitome of convenience and wellness’

As the company moved into this space, it leveraged its third competitive point of differentiation – convenience – to create new products that stand out from existing offerings, said Mould.

“We care about convenience, meaning on-the-go consumer trends,” so we want to offer single-serve, shelf-stable options that can be packed and snacked on easily anywhere, anytime, Mould said.

Reflecting on the creation of Yoggies, Mould said the fruit snacks bring together the company’s three main approaches to innovation.

He explained: “The Yoggie’s product is the epitome of convenience and wellness. It takes probiotics, which we know consumers want, out of a category like dairy and makes it more accessible in their everyday lives. And on top of that, we have this patented probiotic system that makes us unique in the market, so all of the stars aligned and we were at the convergence of a lot of different trends.”

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