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NEW HOPE NETWORK: "FOOD MAKERS DEFINE 'CLEAN LABEL' WITH MINIMAL, STAPLE INGREDIENTS

By Jenna Blumenfeld // May 29, 2018

Clean eating is a widely used but technically undefined term. These brands express their interpretations with formulations that prioritize simple, clasically healthy foods.

 On a rainy afternoon in Boulder, Colorado, Beryl Stafford and her daughter decided to bake up a warm, filling snack. They stirred together whole rolled oats, brown rice syrup, salt, water and a store-bought vegan buttery spread that contained a blend of palm, canola and olive oils to keep it moist, and popped the mixture into the oven. What emerged was delicious. The oat bars were a hit with her daughter, Alex (nicknamed Bobo), and the nourishing baked bars were soon sold in nearly every coffee shop in town. Fast-forward 15 years, and though Bobo’s Oat Bars have grown to be a household name in the natural foods industry, the original recipe remained the same.

But the company recently announced that starting March 2018, the famed Bobo’s recipe would be altered for the first time: The vegan buttery spread would be replaced by organic coconut oil with the goal of creating a shorter, cleaner ingredient list. “We recognize the consumer preference for simpler ingredients as well as the preference for organic when possible so we listened to the feedback we received,” says TJ McIntyre, CEO of Bobo’s. “Even though organic coconut oil is more expensive than the previous oil blend, a lot of our consumers were asking for coconut oil and we take their feedback seriously.” The switch took more than a year of research and development to achieve—eons in the food innovation world—to maintain the classic taste and texture. But according to Stafford, the opportunity to decrease the number of ingredients in the bars was too good to resist. (It also didn’t hurt that coconut oil improved the product quality and consistency.)

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