Now in its fifth year, the “Best New Healthy School Snacks” contest, hosted by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, strives to shine a spotlight on snack and bakery products that exemplify top healthy choices for kids of all ages—whether serving as part of an on-the-go meal solution or between-meals snack. Voting begins as each school year approaches in August, with each year’s winner announced in October.
For 2019, Nature’s Bakery has emerged victorious for its Oatmeal Crumble Bars launched in May 2019. The bars are available in three popular fruit flavors: Strawberry, Apple and Cherry. The products are carried at retailers across the U.S., including Target, Kroger and Publix. They can also be purchased directly at the Nature’s Bakery website or through Amazon.
The bars feature an open top, filled with real fruit jam and topped with a crunchy oat crumble. They offer 3 grams of fiber per bar, plus 14 grams of whole grains. Like all of Nature’s Bakery snacks, the Oatmeal Crumble Bars are plant-based, certified-vegan, dairy-free, Non-GMO Project Verified and made without high-fructose corn syrup, are only 140 calories per bar.
Nature’s Bakery was founded in 2011 by Dave and Sam Marson, father and son bakers. Nature’s Bakery is guided by the philosophy that simple, wholesome snacks are the best fuel for active, joyful lives.
Interestingly, Nature’s Bakery also won the inaugural “Best Healthy School Snacks” contest when it launched in 2015 for its Gluten Free Fig Bars.
In order to learn more about the winning Oatmeal Crumble Bars, we reached out to Pilar Arellano, Marketing Director at Nature’s Bakery.
What was the consumer need that you were striving to meet with the launch of the Oatmeal Crumble Bars product line?
With breakfast snacks forecasted to grow and 49 percent of snack consumers eating breakfast on-the-go, according to a Mintel report, Oatmeal Crumble Bars cater to the busy family on-the-go. It’s difficult for people to sit down and eat a wholesome breakfast in the morning, so with Oatmeal Crumble Bars, Nature’s Bakery wanted to give consumers peace of mind, knowing they will always have a nutritious and accessible option for breakfast on-the-go that they can feel good about. Nature’s Bakery also found that 61 percent of consumers believe whole grains make for a healthy snack, which is why it is notable that Oatmeal Crumble Bars are also packed with 14g of whole grains, ensuring busy families start the morning off right.
How have your customers responded to the new products?
Customers have responded very well to the launch of our Oatmeal Crumble Bars. We have national distribution across key accounts like Target, Kroger, Publix as well as online. Starting in January, Oatmeal Crumble Bars will be available nationally at Walmart too. We are pleased with early sales results and are meeting or exceeding our sales objectives. Families love our Oatmeal Crumble Bars––we’ve seen an overwhelming response on social media about how much they like the flavors and how it helps them start the day!
How are the Oatmeal Crumble Bars different than other Nature’s Bakery products?
Nature’s Bakery is beloved for our soft-baked Fig Bars, so the main differentiator of this product for the brand is that there is no fig, instead we use dates along with the specific fruit jam for each flavor. In comparison to Nature’s Bakery’s other product lines, Oatmeal Crumble Bars are unique with its open-top oats crumble topping. It was also designed specifically with breakfast in mind. The unique visual appearance, it’s open-top, crumble topping and single-bar format, is another way it differs from our well-known twin pack snack bars.
Did the products pose any production challenges given their open-top structure?
We wanted Oatmeal Crumble Bar to be unique and with that brought unique challenges. This snack is structured very differently from the fruit-filled Fig Bars we have baked for almost a decade, so there were many rounds and many learnings until we got the recipe just right. Our team is very proud of how our technical and operation teams worked together to overcome these production challenges!
Why are characteristics like vegan, non-GMO and dairy-free important to you as product development parameters?
Nature’s Bakery consumers commit to better choices and know that food that is good for you is just as important as food that tastes great. The future of the snack industry is not simply a pursuit for healthier options, but also for plant-forward, delicious and convenient products that cater to a variety of dietary needs. We keep our health-conscious consumers top of mind throughout the product development process and will continue to keep their preferences and dietary parameters at the forefront of our ingredient selection.
What’s next for Nature’s Bakery?
We’re happy to announce that Nature’s Bakery is now officially nut free. While all of our products have always been nut free, Nature’s Bakery now has an official process in place to ensure our all our products and manufacturing facilities are nut free. All products will now display a “Nut Free” icon on all packaging starting in January 2020 which is a great next step for our school-friendly snacks.