BALTIMORE — An early mover in the chia seed craze, Health Warrior is ready to spotlight another superfood ingredient. Before chia’s recent rise to supermarket stardom, the Richmond, Va.-based company launched a line of snack bars with chia as the main ingredient. Last year, the brand added a line of protein bars featuring a blend of chia, quinoa and pea crisps.
So, what’s next?
“We’re not ready to unveil, and we actually haven’t even shared them with our top retailers,” said Julia Wing-Larson, vice-president of marketing, in an interview with Food Business News. “But it will be superfoods other than chia, and superfoods will definitely be the No. 1 ingredient. We’re definitely looking at other ingredients that offer that same nutrient density that chia does, but with different nutrients than chia. We want to make sure to diversify our portfolio in providing nutrients that have different benefits and products that can fulfill different needs for different occasions.”
Earlier this year, the company unveiled a rebranding, minimizing the emphasis of chia on the packaging.
“Health Warrior really is a platform brand and stands for more than just chia bars,” Ms. Wing-Larson said.
Ingredients aside, Health Warrior plans to expand beyond the nutrition bar category, too, said Ms. Wing-Larson, adding, “We definitely see the opportunity to bring superfoods and make those more convenient in other forms than just the bar, so that is something we’re talking about for the future.”
But, in the meantime, the brand certainly is not walking away from chia bars. At Natural Products Expo East, held Sept. 21-24 in Baltimore, Health Warrior revealed the latest varieties in its Chia Bar and Superfood Protein Bar ranges: vanilla almond and mint chocolate, respectively. The flavors were chosen as part of an on-line poll the brand launched on its web site and social media pages.
“The idea was to create a fan favorite,” Ms. Wing-Larson said. “The polling was done back in the spring. We had put together a list of potential flavors, in looking at what was doing well in the category and out in the market, and looking at ways to incorporate additional superfoods, like almonds. We had put together a list with a number of flavors. We didn’t put anything on there we didn’t think we’d be able to make.”
Other flavor options in the poll included seaweed, matcha, blueberry, fig, chocolate chili and dragonfruit. The brand’s current assortment features such flavors as apple cinnamon, acai berry, banana nut, coconut, coffee, chocolate peanut butter, dark chocolate, mango and dark chocolate cherry. The new varieties will hit shelves in January.
Founded in 2010, Health Warrior sells its products in more than 10,000 retail outlets and is on track to grow sales 50% over last year, Ms. Wing-Larson said. Even with the explosion of products on the market formulated with chia seeds, Health Warrior stands out in several ways, she said.
“While there have been other entrants that have included some chia in the product, there is no other bar that has chia as the No. 1 ingredient, so our product itself is very different than other foods on the market,” Ms. Wing-Larson said. “Most of them don’t offer the same amount of chia per bar and don’t measure up to the nutrition quality and quantity. Also, we keep a close eye on things like sugar. We have lower sugar content than a lot of other products that have come on the market that include chia.”
Since its founding, the company’s mission has been to improve the nutrition of packaged foods with the use of superfood ingredients.“We like to say we like to make better-for-you categories good for you, and truly bring nutrient-dense, good-for-you food in a convenient form,” Ms. Wing-Larson said. “That’s our motivation and our guide as we think about what new products we want to bring to the market.”