Exclusive interview: Q&A with Enjoy Life Foods
We recently got the chance to talk to Joel Warady, general manager and chief sales and marketing officer at Enjoy Life Foods, about the company's recent decision to stop using palm oil in their products.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What prompted the decision to stop using palm oil in Enjoy Life Foods products?
Joel Warady: Our goal is to demonstrate that there are opportunities to create delicious foods without having to utilize ingredients that increasingly more consumers are looking to avoid. While several global food brands have made commitments to source sustainable palm oils—ourselves included—we believe if we find opportunities to meet the needs of our consumers who are seeking palm oil free products, we will do so. That’s why we sought Palm Oil Free Certification by Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP) and made the choice to develop Grain & Seed Bars without palm oil, and also reformulated our Protein Bites using eco-friendly alternatives that achieve incredible taste and texture without the use of palm oil. Our certifications are the cornerstone to building trust with our loyal consumers while being transparent about each and every ingredient that goes into creating our delicious free-from foods.
Having just celebrated Earth Day, we felt like the timing was right to make the exciting announcement that we’re the first food company in the U.S. to receive Palm Oil Free Certification for our latest snack innovations.
DJP: What is involved with becoming Certified Palm Oil Free?
JW: The first thing we needed to do was to develop a great-tasting product, that not only was gluten free and free-from 14 allergens, but one that was also palm oil free. That was our greatest challenge. Once we created this innovative product, to achieve this Palm Oil Free Certification by POFCAP, we submitted an application. That application was reviewed by the POFCAP Assessment team, along with the review of the potential palm oil derived ingredients that were researched back to their source. After the successful assessment, we received an application report and were then granted a Triennial License to use the Certification Trademark.
DJP: Did removing palm oil from all Enjoy Life Foods require a significant level of reformulation?
JW: At this time, we are launching our new line of Grain & Seed Bars, the only bars on the market to combine three types of the ancient grain sorghum, without palm oil. Our plant-based Protein Bites will follow in June, for a total of eight SKUs in all. For existing products that do contain palm oil, we committed early on to use Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Certified palm oil, but made the decision to meet our consumers’ requests by taking it a step further, and achieving Palm Oil Free Certification given the negative environmental impact and consumer demand for trusted, transparent options. Those products that use palm oil, RSPO Certification contributes to the production of sustainable palm oil and limitation of negative impacts to the environment sourcing.
Reformulating Grain & Seed Bars and Protein Bites was no easy task, but we were motivated to by our consumers to do what’s right while delivering great-tasting products. The decision to reformulate has been met by an overwhelmingly positive response from our retailer partners. They recognize the growing consumer awareness of palm oil in products, and they are pleased that we have developed a product that allows them to meet the needs of their consumers.
DJP: What types of fats and oils are you using to replace the palm oil ingredients?
JW: Our Grain & Seed Bars and Protein Bites use safflower oil, which some feel is a healthier, allergy-friendly oil that is high in unsaturated fatty acids, highly stable, and boasts significant levels of Vitamin E. Grain & Seed Bars are also made with dairy-free cocoa butter.
DJP: Did the reformulation of the products impact their eating quality?
JW: Not at all. We would never put a product on shelf that tastes inferior. Our R&D team did a fantastic job finding ingredient alternatives like safflower oil that deliver in taste and texture, and our consumer love the variety of flavor options and accessible price points. Our Grain & Seed Bars ($4.69/box of five one-ounce bars) come in four sweet, snackable options—Maple Sweet Potato, Chocolate Marshmallow, Banana Caramel and Cranberry Orange— as do our chocolatey truffle-like Protein Bites ($6.99/6.4-ounce bag). Dark Raspberry and Dipped Banana will join SunSeed Butter and Cinnamon Spice this summer.
DJP: How will you be getting the message about going Certified Palm Oil Free to your customers?
JW: Our new Grain & Seeds Bars are the first to receive Palm Oil Free Certification, which we are advertising via social media, our website, and are supporting with industry media outreach to heighten awareness among our retail partners in the U.S. and Canada. The reformulated Protein Bites will debut in June and will receive the same promotion.