BOULDER, COLO. — When Whole Foods Market reached out to Bobo’s, the supermarket chain had just finished its cereal bar category review, which showed a lack of meaningful innovations. Whole Foods asked if the nutrition snack bar manufacturer would bring something unique to the cereal bar space. With the awareness that consumers are keeping to the fresh perimeter of stores, Bobo’s decided to move this freshness to the center aisles. What emerged was a little more wholesome, a little more like homemade, and a little toastier.
Bobo’s Toast’r, a rectangular filled pastry with an oat crust, launched nationally this month at Whole Foods stores. Toast’r is packaged as a single 2.5-oz pastry with a suggested retail price of $2.49. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and certified kosher.
The toaster pastry comes in four varieties: two nut-based and two fruit-based. Chocolate almond butter is made with an almond butter and chocolate chip filling while chocolate peanut butter has peanut butter inside with cocoa powder added to the pastry batter. Strawberry Jam includes a strawberry filling, and blueberry lemon poppyseed incorporates blueberry jam with lemon and poppy seeds mixed into the batter.
Aspiring entrepreneur Beryl Stafford founded Bobo’s, a “baked from the heart” brand, in 2003. The original oat bars were first made in Ms. Stafford’s kitchen and are made much the same way today. The company has a 15,000-square-foot facility that houses pans upon pans and is more employee- than equipment-oriented to run like a family kitchen.
“Our Boulder bakery prides itself on baking with a very handmade, homemade touch,” said TJ McIntyre, chief executive officer of Bobo’s. “We believe that our consumers value this homemade texture, aroma and taste.”
Although the production of Toast’r is similar to that of the company’s oat bars, oat bites and stuffed bars, it also required some changes, including dual extrusion equipment with multiple formers and ingredients for new flavors. The biggest change was the introduction of ancient grains buckwheat groats and millet.
However, these additions haven’t hindered Bobo’s intentions to maintain a simple ingredient list, and it plans to simplify it down the line.
“We’re moving so fast on this innovation that we’re going to continue making adjustments on the fly,” Mr. McIntyre said.
The company made a strong showing at Natural Products Expo West and expects the consumer response to be just as encouraging. In fact, Mr. McIntyre predicts Toast’r will be picked up by as much as 20% of conventional grocery stores by June or July because retailers are recognizing the need for fresher products in the center of their stores.
“There are many parents who shop in the natural food section of a grocery store and stay away from toaster pastries altogether because of the degree at which they’re processed and viewed as unhealthy,” Mr. McIntyre said. “We want to bring those shoppers back to the breakfast bar category. And Bobo’s Toast’r serves as a solution.”