Can consumers swallow Fruit & Veggie bars?

Kelowna, B.C.-based Sun-Rype Products, a manufacturer of juice-based beverages and fruit snacks, will stock grocery shelves across Canada this fall with its new Fruit & Veggie bars.

So what’s the story?

Kelowna, B.C.-based Sun-Rype Products, a manufacturer of juice-based beverages and fruit snacks, will stock grocery shelves across Canada this fall with its new Fruit & Veggie bars. Available in three flavours – Blueberry & Orange, Apple & Pear and Cranberry & Raspberry – the munchies are also filled with a strange mix of veggies. For instance, a Blueberry & Orange creation combines orange juice concentrate and dried berries with an interesting blend of squash, carrot and broccoli, among other yummy legumes.

‘Both fruit and veggies are among the top 10 items consumers want to snack on,’ says Gary Turner, category manager for new products. ‘Based on the success of our other bars – Fruit to Go and Energy to Go – veggies were a new segment opportunity and extension for us.’

Each of the bars, which actually have a texture similar to a fig, has three servings of fruits and veggies according to Canada’s Food Guide.

Blueberry and broccoli? Sounds delicious. Who would ever willingly ingest one of these bars?

On their own, dried vegetables weren’t considered appealing, but research suggests the addition of fruit reduced concerns among consumers about taste. According to Turner, 62% of those asked indicated they would buy the bars. Why? Because Canadians, particularly women, want to get more greens into their diets. ‘The demand of children on families, as well as the rise in both two-parent and single-parent incomes, make adults prime candidates for skipping meals or eating fast food,’ says Turner, who adds that 78% of Canadians say nutrition is an important factor when picking a snack, while 50% of females would like to have a better choice on the market. ‘Everything also has to be in a tidy, little convenient package.’

In any case, you can’t really taste the broccoli in the bars – thankfully, it’s the fruit flavour that is predominant. That is why Sun-Rype decided on descriptors, like Cranberry & Raspberry, that pushed the bars’ sweet side. ‘The notion of veggies was a bit abstract. People warmed to the fruit flavours so the veggie taste is hidden.’

People might not venture past the name though. How will Sun-Rype convince consumers to bite?

Once Sun-Rype achieves its goal of 75% distribution in groceries and club stores like Costco, which it hopes to reach by November, it will take its message to the street, promoting the bars through traditional women’s magazines, health and fitness publications and demos at parenting shows. ‘Most of the ads will run in February, because it fits in with everyone trying to get back to a healthy lifestyle after holiday indulgences,’ explains Turner, who says that the brand message is still being fine-tuned. ‘But the strong differentiation is that the bars have vegetables, as well as their functional benefit.’

The Fruit & Veggie bars will be much cheaper than similar nutritional products sold in specialty health stores, according to Turner, with prices ranging between $1.29 and $1.49 for a single bar; $11.99 to $13.99 for a twelve-bar variety pack; and $15.99 for 18 bars. ‘We’re trying to keep it mainstream and make it appeal to the Sun-Rype consumer – Mom pushing her cart through a grocery section with kids running around.’

Other edible achievements…

Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto, hopes consumers will dine on brand-name swine in the future. The meat packer will introduce ‘designer pigs’ through vertical co-ordination – a system whereby they will demand farmers supply better quality and consistency regarding the size and genetics of the animals. The strategy will help Maple Leaf raise its prices and, in the long run, hopefully get high on the hog.

Connors Bros., a Maritime seafood products manufacturer, hopes to reel in Ontario consumers for its Brunswick sardines, through a campaign pushing the little fishies as a positive food choice. The ‘crusade’ aims to nullify the notion that sardines are boring, by stressing their health benefits and their savoury qualities. Right now the focus is on merchandising, but the company will look at a media campaign down the line, according to spokesperson David Lomas. In the meantime, company-created recipes like Crispy Sardine Pizza and Brunswick Burritos will help champion the cause.