Clif Bar is one of the hottest health snack companies on the market. Their bars for hikers, athletes, women, and even kids are tremendously popular. They also have a line of fruit snacks for kids called Clif Kids. One of the products is a Fruit Rope, which comes in various flavors. Some claims from the package include ”Excellent source of vitamin C”, “Gluten Free”,”No processed sugar”, and “USDA Organic”.
Another interesting claim is
Equal to one serving of Fruit* (*one serving of fruit per piece per USDA guidelines)
As snacks go, this is a relatively small serving (2/3 of an ounce). It has 70 calories, of which 60 come from sugar! That’s 85% of the calories. Or 4 teaspoons of sugar.
Here is the ingredient list:
Organic Apple Puree, Organic Apple Juice Concentrate, Organic Flavors, Pectin, Malic Acid.
Overall, decent ingredients. the pectin helps keep the snack firm, the malic acid provides a tartness to counter the sugar. There is no added sugar, the fruit is organic, and all is good. Right?
Not so fast. Fruit juice concentrate is a nice way of saying sugar. When we squeeze apples into juice and then evaporate the water, we are left with sugar. And this is what your kids will be eating. Not an apple. As we all know by now, there is way too much sugar in our western diet. If you eat an apple, along with the 4 tsp of sugar you’ll get close to 4 grams of fiber (not just 1 gram as in this product) and substantially more nutrients.
So why do USDA guidelines allow apple sugar to be considered as a fruit equivalent?
Our guess: politics. Shelf stable snacks can be sold year round. Farmers that overproduce need a solution for fruit that will go bad. Why not figure out a way to process it and turn it into a nutritionally equivalent solution? Sounds great in theory, except that a fruit rope, fruit leather, or fruit juice is simply not equivalent to a fresh piece of fruit.
What to do at the supermarket:
While Clif’s fruit rope snack is NOT equivalent to fruit by our book, if you are going to buy a fruit snack, it is probably one of the better options compared to fruit snacks that are made with artificial colorings and include much more added sugar. Please note that the snack size is unusually small and your child may eat more than one (which means doubling the sugar intake).