“Our promise to the consumer is to keep the amount of sugar in every protein bar at 5 grams or less,” Doss Cunningham, CEO of Cellucor, told FoodNavigator-USA. “Compare this to the average protein bar on the market with 10 and often 20 grams of sugar, it is no surprise why so many consumers find them equivalent to a candy bar.”
These days, there are a lot of bars out there, and there is definitely demand for it, especially the fortified and functional kind. Euromonitor data calculated that the retail sales value of fortified or functional energy and nutrition bars to be $2.4 billion in 2015. The category in the US overall—which includes snack bars, fruit bars, and so forth—is forecasted to be $6.7 billion this year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reported back in 2013.
Still, despite the market size, Cunningham thought that consumers don’t have many choices when it comes to healthy bars. “As for why the sales of 'candy bars in disguise' continue to rise, I believe that’s due to lack of choice in the market. If you had a protein bar that tasted great and didn’t have high sugar content, you would choose it,” he said. He believes FitJoy is the answer.
As of now, there are six flavors slated to launch this summer: Frosted Cinnamon Roll, Chocolate Iced Brownie, Chocolate Peanut Butter, French Vanilla Almond, Mint Chocolate Crisp, and Chocolate Chip Cookie. “We wanted to deliver a bar that would be ideal for consumers with an active lifestyle who value both taste and nutrition,” Cunningham said.
The main source of protein, 20 g in every 60g bar, is whey, which Cunningham said is a “premium, complete, and highly digestible protein that contains all of the essential amino acids.” He added that the bars are GMO-free, gluten-free, and has 230 calories or less.
“The majority of protein bars on the market force consumers to compromise – either between good nutrition with mediocre taste or better taste but full of artificial ingredients and high sugar content,” he said. Because of that, the company is counting on flavor and nutrition content as a way to stand out in a saturated category. “Our team obsessed over creating a bar that would offer both a gourmet taste experience and a clean, healthy nutrition profile.”
A background story
Cunningham embodies the target audience for the brand—active individuals who are disappointed with the quality of the current protein bar market. “A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and developed a severe sensitivity to artificial sweeteners, which made it especially challenging to keep protein bars as part of my daily diet,” he said.
“I did a lot of research and a lot of shopping and determined that my dream product did not exist, so my team and I created it. It took two years and there were times when we would restart the entire process and go back to the drawing board,” he added.
The product’s initial launch will go to the staple sport specialty retailers: GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, and Bodybuilding.com, both brick-and-mortar and online. He added that it will also be sold in independent health and wellness stores and gyms.
Cunningham added that this upcoming launch of FitJoy protein bars is only the start, and they have plans to expand flavor and perhaps product portfolio later. “Every FitJoy product that follows will deliver on the core proposition: gourmet taste and a nutritional profile without compromise,” he said.