Energy snack brand Clif Bar is expanding into a new category with snacks for dogs. Its first line of dog food products, Clif Pet, is expected to launch in early 2022 with three plant-based jerky dog treats made in three flavors: Sweet Potato & Blueberry, Pumpkin & Apple, and Butternut Squash & Cranberry. Clif Bar says each recipe is formulated with seven ingredients and promotes easy digestion, and it plans to build out the portfolio in the coming months.
The vegan jerky product launch is the first venture for Clif Bar’s recently announced Trailblazers Incubator program, which aims to identify and build on disruptive and sustainable innovation opportunities.
“Just as Clif Bar was founded on disrupting the energy bar category nearly 30 years ago, the Trailblazers Incubator is built to consistently deliver our bold innovation agenda and accelerate our growth plan,” Clif Bar Chief Innovation Officer Rizal Hamdallah said in a statement. “In addition to a rapid, data-driven product development and go-to-market strategy, what makes our approach different is extending the loyalty of the CLIF brand. By introducing CLIF Pet, we will bring energy to the whole family.”
Clif Bar gets into vegan jerky for dogs
Clif Bar entered the dog food category because of the dramatic increase in companion animal adoptions during the COVID-19 lockdown, along with the emerging demand for higher quality food for companion animals. Dog food is often made with low-grade animal-based ingredients that pose health risks due to bacterial contamination and the presence of antibiotics. The company says that because companion animals are considered part of the family today more than ever before, the category represents a significant growth opportunity.
“With more than 11 million US households bringing a pet home during the last 18 months of COVID, the category is exploding and ripe for new offerings,” Incubator Senior Director Greg Lok said in a statement. “What makes this launch unique is the combination of speed and discipline to bring an innovative, relevant product to market during a global pandemic. We are truly blazing new trails by applying best practices from tech start-ups to our expertise in consumer insights and packaged goods—it’s a winning combination.”
For humans, Clif Bar predominantly focuses on energy bars under its Clif, Clif Kid, and Luna brands, of which many are vegan—including Clif Bar flavors such as White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla Almond Latte, and Peanut Toffee Buzz. While most of its products use soy protein, a few products contain animal-based whey, including Clif Whey Protein, Luna Protein, Zbar Protein, and Clif Recovery Protein Drink Mix.
Innovation in vegan dog food
In recent years, there has been increased interest and innovation in plant-based food products for companion animals. California-based startup Wild Earth, a dominant player in the category, is on a mission to create better companion animal food that does not include slaughtered animals, is healthier for companion animals, and leaves a lighter environmental footprint. It offers plant- and fungi-based food for companion animals as well as products made with cell-based meat (made from a small amount of animal cells that are grown in bioreactor).
In 2019, Wild Earth debuted a unique dog treat made with cultured koji—a type of fungus that it grows in a lab-setting using a proprietary process that contains more protein than steak.
The company recently secured a $23 million investment led by a team that included Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, vegan actor Paul Welsey, and a handful of investment firms. Using the new funding, Wild Earth will develop beef, chicken, and seafood from cell-based meats using its proprietary technology with the aim to release new dog and cat foods in 2022.
For more on vegan food for companion animals, read:
Vegan Dog Food Brand Launches in Japan to Help 9 Million Dogs Go Vegan
Biotech Startup Launches High-Protein Meat-Free Dog Food
Startup Debuts New Vegan Food for Cats and Dogs