3 Mins Read
Known for its popular energy bars and snacks, category leader Clif Bar is now entering the pet food arena with jerky snacks for dogs. The move is designed to expand distribution into new markets. The company aims to double in size and this new venture will bring heightened consumer awareness outside the snack bar sector.
Clif has moved into new markets before, adding cereal and sweet snacks, proving on-brand and core product-adjacent value. But Clif Pet will be an entirely new branch of operations. The company aims to shake up the pet food sector thanks to the launch of its new Trailblazers Incubator.
The growth of Clif
Clif is an energy bar market leader. Valued at $2,968.67 million as of 2020, it is a leader in a growing, though crowded consumer space. Clif has made the decision to take its energy innovations in a new direction after years of ‘safe’ expansion.
The Trailblazers Incubator is designed to fast-track new and unusual ideas, bringing them from conception to realisation effectively. “We have a lot of interest in entering new spaces, new categories that are farther out, but make sense for Clif,” said chief innovation officer Rizal Hamdallah to Forbes. “We are really focused on disrupting categories.”
Moving from human to canine snacks will be a disruption. Not to the company culture, however. Employee-owned, the company has sought to make working conditions feel like home for many years. As a result, the Bay Area office has been host to many furry companions. With this in mind, the move from human hiking snacks to dog sustenance isn’t a stretch. Employees bring their dogs to work and go out exercising with them. Both need energy top-ups. The three plant-based jerky recipes will feature fibrous vegetables and healthy-for-dogs fruit varieties.
Understanding new end users
Getting to grips with the nutritional needs of a new consumer group was the biggest hurdle for Clif. It proved far more complicated than developing a new energy bar flavour. Partnering with a contract pet food manufacturing company assisted with the steep learning curve. As did office visitors. “We did so much market research, from product proposition to naming. The product development team tested the product with dogs,” said Hamdallah. “We had some amazing internal employees’ pets (who come to work with their parents) that joined our test panel. This is what the incubator is so good for.”
Clif Pet will be the initial incubator project. Launch is earmarked for early 2022 with products available through retail and web sales. If initial products perform well, there will be more in the future. “The segment for plant-based, better-for-pets treats is growing and there’s more evidence that this is a space for us to go after,” noted Hamdallah.
Flexitarian pets on the rise
2021 has been a year of plant-based and alt protein pet innovations. In response to more owners converting their companions to flexitarian or “flexi-dogian” diets, pet food companies are unveiling vegan or more sustainable meat product lines.
Earlier this year, California’s Wild Earth secured $23 million in a Series A funding round, to launch cultivated meat-based food for dogs and cats. The company pioneered complete vegan nutrition for dogs and is now aiming to disrupt the $40 billion pet food industry through sustainable meat alternatives.
Elsewhere, Omni was founded by U.K. veterinarian Dr. Guy Sandelowsky in response to the lack of complete nutrition in commercial brands. It is 100 percent plant-based, gaining high protein levels from ingredients such as brown rice and lentils.
Lead image generated using Clif Pet product image.