Good food, good cause

by Ryan Atkinson
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It might be easy to look at the packaging of This Bar Saves Lives and think the title is tongue-in-cheek, but founders of the Venice, CA, company want consumers to know that it’s more than a marketing slogan.

For every This Bar Saves Lives that is sold, the company’s non-profit partner, Edesia Global Nutrition Systems, makes a packet of the peanut-based paste Plumpy’Nut. The folks at This Bar Saves Lives then send that food to malnourished children where it’s needed most.

And while that mission — which was formed after a trip to Liberia by co-founders Todd Grinnell and Ryan Devlin — could be cause enough to make a purchase of the bar, the company believes it’s only part of what makes the product special.

“Our task is simple: We just need to offer a product that tastes, looks and feels better than the alternative, and I think we’ve done that,” said Ravi Patel, who founded This Bar Saves Lives with Mr. Grinnell and Mr. Devlin. “But if there is a tie-breaker, it should leave them with the added bonus that buying our bars helps feed starving children.”

The bars, now available nationwide, come in Wild Blueberry Pistachio, Dark Chocolate Cherry & Sea Salt, and Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey. New flavors are set to launch in early 2015. They were made with taste and nutrition in mind.

“We love good food, so our mission is to use the tastiest and healthiest ingredients,” Mr. Grinnell said, noting that they source their almonds from one of the country’s only farms to practice bee-friendly growing strategies.

“We spent a lot of time in our kitchens playing around with various flavor profiles and then eventually collaborated with top-level nutritionists and food scientists to lock in the go-to-market recipes,” Mr. Grinnell said.

The 43-g bars are sold individually in stores and retail anywhere from $1.99 to $2.69. Boxes are available through the company’s website for $19.99 or $16.99 with a monthly membership.

This Bar Saves Lives partners with a family-owned manufacturer in upstate New York for production. The facility has recently become a gluten-free certified plant.

“We’re constantly evolving as we find ways to make production more efficient,” Mr. Grinnell said. “They’re constantly bringing in new equipment to improve our efficiency as our bars have a unique production process to bring consumers the superior taste, texture and nutrition that we promise.”

The company started small deliberately, Mr. Patel said, focusing on independent retailers and online sales. A grassroots campaign came naturally when consumers began to catch on to the company’s give-back mission and its high-quality product. That led to an expansion into New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, which led to nation-wide availability.

That has helped This Bar Saves Lives donate more than 316,000 food packets since June 2013, with more on the horizon.

“We have some pretty big announcements coming in the next few months,” Mr. Devlin said. “What we can say, though, is that we started this company to help ­millions of children, and we’re on track to do exactly that.”

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