Even though they weren’t the first to the market with a compact energy bar, Clif Bar WAS one of the first energy bars targeted for the outdoor market that used natural ingredients and resembled a cookie or breakfast bar more than a tooth breaking, chocolate-coated chemistry experiment. (Yes, back in the day I actually did break a tooth on a PowerBar, the first energy bar, but not the tastiest.)
Over time Clif Bar has added to their assortment of energy foods with 20 flavors of the classic Clif Bar, plus 11 Clif Kid’s bars, 15 flavors of Luna bar, 9 Clif Shot, 8 Clif builders, 6 Clif Crunch and Mojo bars and four of the latest addition, Clif Kit’s Organic bars. You may not like all of them, but you’re bound to like at least one or two in the line.
A portion of that health factor comes from Clif Bar’s dedication to using organic ingredients. I asked Clif Bar recently about this aspect of their business.
CD: Are all the ingredients for Clif Bars organically sourced?
ClifBar: More than 70 percent of the ingredients in Clif Bar & Company’s foods are organic. While our sourcing is proprietary information, as foodies, we think organic ingredients taste better. As athletes, we think bodies run better on clean energy from organic ingredients, which are grown without harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Keeping those pesticides and synthetic fertilizers away from people and the planet helps protect the places we all live, work and play.
CD: Does Clif Bar require organic certification, or does Clif Bar look at each farmer individually to determine their qualifications?CB: This year, we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary of going organic. Over that time, we have purchased nearly 330 million pounds of organic ingredients. In many ways organic ingredient sourcing has gotten easier over those 10 years as there are now greater quantities and greater varieties of ingredients available. That said, the organic ingredient supply remains dynamic and the marketplace continues to be competitive.
CD: What is the driving force in the creation of new products at Clif Bar?
CB: We are very careful about the way we grow and want to make sure that our growth is sustainable over the long haul and that it is in tune with our five, equally weighted bottom lines – Sustaining our Business, Brands, People, Community and the Planet.
Our growth is driven by a variety of factors which include new products, greater distribution in the US and expansion into international markets. However, what it really comes down to, more than anything, is that consumers are seeking a combination of nutrition, convenience and great taste. And, consumer interest is only increasing around health and fitness, organic ingredients, and essential nutrients such as whole grain, fiber and protein. The food that we make meets these specific needs which continues to attract new consumers to our brands.
CD: What does Clif Bar do to make distribution of their bars as economical as possible with the smallest carbon footprint?CB: We’ve made great strides to date getting rid of shrink wrap, moving to recycled paperboard and corrugate, and reducing waste. We’ve also developed a partnership with Terracycle that created an industry-wide program to recycle energy bar wrappers. We track and offset carbon emissions generated by our headquarters, bakeries, warehouses and in-bound shipping. In 2007 we even offset our historical carbon footprint back to our company’s start.
CD: Any thoughts on future changes/improvements to how Clif Bar runs their business?
CB: Our top sellers continue to be energy and nutrition bars. The protein trend also is hot for both men and women right now-consumers want to snack smarter by consuming nutrient-dense calories that provide satiety. To meet this demand, we recently expanded our CLIF Builder’s line which now offers great-tasting bars with 10, 20 or 30 grams of protein to help people customize their intake needs based on the days’ activities.
People are busier than ever and they continue to seek ways to make their lives easier and healthier on-the-go. At Clif Bar our focus goes beyond bars to create nutritious and delicious foods made with organic ingredients that are portable and convenient.
CD: Was there a particular event that triggered Clif Bar’s genesis and their dedication to natural ingredients?CB: Clif Bar recognized that it has a critical role to play as we work towards more just and sustainable use of our planet’s resources. Food connects us all, linking us to the environment and to a complex network of people and organizations including farmers, distributors and the people that eat our food.
As an organic food company, Clif Bar has been committed to sourcing ingredients that are not genetically engineered since the late 90′s. The multiple benefits of organic food and farming have a positive impact on people’s health, the health of the environment and the health of farm communities.
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While the variety and taste of Clif Bars has steadily improved in the past ten years, so too has their price. If you’re lucky enough to have one near you, the best retail deal on Clif Bars will be found at Trader Joe’s. In a pinch, they’re worth full pop.
As much as I’m extolling the value and taste of a Clif Bar, to be realistic, my fave trail snack is an old fashioned handful of gorp with a PB&J and some coconut water. Even so, I usually have a spare Clif Bar in the pack, just in case the main snack isn’t enough or the PB&J becomes mashed beyond recognition. Plus I never need to worry about ‘em breaking my teeth.