DENVER — When No Cow wanted to introduce a new line of energy bars, it went straight to consumers to see what was missing from the segment.
“Pretty much everyone ate granola bars or energy bars daily because of convenience,” said Daniel Katz, founder and chief executive officer of No Cow. “The one pain point for these consumers was the sugar content — it was always super high.”
Luckily, this complaint played to the company’s strength. Launched in 2015, No Cow made its mark on the segment with its lineup of dairy-free, high-protein bars that contained only 1 gram of sugar. Two years later the company caught the attention of 301 INC, a venture unit of Minneapolis-based General Mills, which decided to invest in the company.
Building off its debut line’s success, No Cow created a new, healthier spin on energy bars.
“I wanted to create an energy bar that wasn’t just another candy bar in disguise,” Mr. Katz said. “The No Cow Energy Bar has 45 mg of caffeine to give you seriously sustained energy without all that sugar.”
Unlike other products that can have up to 20 grams of sugar per bar, No Cow Energy Bars have 1 gram of sugar and contain a patented coffee bean flour, which acts as an equivalent to a half cup of coffee. Like the company’s initial line, these bars are made with natural ingredients such as oats, nuts and almond butters. The bars also include 12 grams of protein and and are free from gluten, soy and G.M.O.s.
To maintain the product’s low sugar count, the company tested multiple formulations.
“After the first trial, the energy bars did not have the proper sweetness we were looking for,” Mr. Katz explained. “We had to take a few steps back in the lab and explore some different ingredient options as well as optimize our processes at the plant to create the product out on shelves today.”
Without using loads of sugar to boost the bar’s taste, the No Cow team focused on introducing flavors that would entice consumers.
“We knew from our protein bars sales that people love chocolate and peanut butter, so we had a great hunch to launch with those flavors,” Mr. Katz said. The company settled on four varieties for the line’s debut: chocolate peanut butter, chunky peanut butter, chocolate sea salt and coconut almond.
No Cow Energy Bars were introduced at Natural Products Expo East and at a variety of consumer events like the New York City Marathon before its roll-out last November. After receiving positive feedback, the product was immediately launched and is now available across a variety of national retail and online outlets for $1.99 per 1.77-oz bar.
The company seeks to maintain the positive momentum and reshape the bar segment.
“This product really opens us up to a wide market,” Mr. Katz noted. “We hope to change the perception of what an energy bar can be. We think consumers and retailers are really going to like this new product and its flavors.”