In our recent comparison between Larabar and Clif bars, Lara won the upper hand. In response, the Clif team sent us some information and clarifications:
- Clif Bar & Company doesn’t source genetically-modified ingredients for any of its foods.
- The natural flavors found in CLIF BARs are sourced from all-natural spices or fruit juices and are used to add nuances of complementary flavors – a very common practice in baking.
- The percentage of calories from fat is relatively low – in fact much lower than LARA Bar (21% vs 43%)
That led to an additional round of questions and answers which we bring before you. Some of the answers were spot on, while others seemed vague and diplomatic without truly addressing the issues. You be the judge:
[Fooducate] What percent of the protein in CLIF BARs come from the isolates vs. contribution of the “real” ingredients? We ask because soy protein isolates is the second ingredient in your Banana Nut Bread Bar.
[Clif] We don’t share our ingredient formulas, but we can tell you that the protein in a CLIF® BAR comes from a variety of sources, depending on the flavor, including nuts, soy flour, soy bits, oats and brown rice syrup as well as soy protein isolates.
[Fooducate] But still most comes from isolates. Why did you guys stop selling Clif Nectar which was the closest LARABAR comparable?
[Clif] CLIF Nectar® was our first entry into the fruit and nut category, and through consumer feedback we learned a great deal about creating delicious flavors using just a few ingredients. We hope to bring new consumers to the fruit and nut category now with CLIF® C, which combines the double-layered goodness of a home-baked snack with nutritious, all-natural ingredients.
[Fooducate] Sounds like Nectar was reformulated relaunched as C, but it still has more than twice the ingredients of Lara’s Bar. Next question: Why not be bold and explicitly state what the “Natural Flavors” in your bars are? Unfortunately in the modern food industry, Natural Flavoring could mean a “lab in NJ” created some mix for a food processor to overcome the bland flavor of a product made with inferior ingredients. (I know it’s not the case with Clif). So why not tell us EVERYTHING?
[Clif] The Natural Flavors are one of the ingredients of our special recipe. Our recipe is what makes us, and what contributes to CLIF BAR’s uniquely good taste and sound nutritional profile. While we don’t share everything that makes up our special recipe, we can assure you that, from our oats to our flavors, we only use quality, organic, and all-natural ingredients.
[Fooducate] While the fat comparison you make between Lara and Clif is interesting, you also boast a high protein content. But most people are not athletes nor do they need all that protein. That’s just a marketing gimmick….
[Clif] If you’re referring to 9g of protein in CLIF® BAR vs. 6g in LARABARs, the 3g difference certainly wouldn’t overload a consumer’s daily intake. In fact, for more active people who are working out or training often during the week, a little extra protein is a good thing for muscle recovery.
In terms of protein levels per total grams in these bars, both have a similar ratio – approximately 12%-13% of total grams from protein. But with CLIF it comes with less fat – significantly less fat, which is a real health concern, not a gimmick.
[Fooducate] OK. For athletes maybe they need protein, but most of us are not even close to being athletes. Next Q: What % of your sales are the Clif C bar? Why aren’t they more prominent?
[Clif] CLIF® C just launched and is only now landing on grocery shelves. The fruit and nut category is much smaller than other parts of the energy/nutrition bar business, so we wouldn’t expect CLIF C to eclipse our other products.
[Fooducate] Thats too bad – it’s the healthiest. Business question: Any plans to get acquired by a big industry player or is the Clif team adamant about staying independent?
[Clif] We’ve come as close as there is to being sold. Clif Bar & Company founder Gary Erickson had the pen in his hand, ready to sign away the company. But he didn’t. He chose to head on the path less traveled and remain independent. It was a defining moment for the company, and something of which we’re very proud. We have no plans to change course.
[Fooducate] Kudos. That’s a tough decision to make. Last question: I don’t remember ever seeing CLIF BAR coupons. Why is that?
[Clif] We actually do participate in coupon programs, but they’re pretty targeted. We have coupons in coupon booklets and store “shoppers” (newspapers) specific to a particular retailer. We also participate in discount purchase programs, like one coming up in Health magazine this summer that will offer a discount on our new CLIF CRUNCH® bars.
However, we tend to rely more on direct, face-to-face interactions with consumers where they can get free samples of our products. We sponsor or contribute to goody bags at more than 1,500 events a year – from marathons to mountain-bike races to music festivals – and nourish folks with free bars right when they need them. And we love every minute of it.
[Fooducate] Thank you.