As yogurt makers across the US struggle to maintain sales in an increasingly saturated market, Clio is looking to reinvent the category with its range of Greek yogurt bars.
The New Jersey-based company has developed yogurt with a cheesecake-like consistency that comes wrapped in a chocolate shell. Seven flavours are currently available: vanilla, strawberry, peanut butter, blueberry, hazelnut, espresso and honey.
Founder and CEO Sergey Konchakovskiy believes the health benefits of the bars combined with their on-the-go format has enabled Clio to differentiate itself.
Konchakovskiy came up with the idea for the products with a little help from his children, who discovered a leftover ball of strained Greek yogurt originally meant to be used as a lamb rub that was wrapped in cheesecloth in the fridge. “The cheesecake-like consistency of the yogurt interested them and, like any dad trying to encourage their kids to incorporate healthy foods into their diets, I knew I had to capitalise on this discovery,” he said.
Following years of experimentation and careful modification, Clio has developed a range that taps into consumer demand for healthy, yet indulgent snacks and that also has a long enough shelf life to be retailer-friendly.
“Being the first-ever Greek yogurt bar, our biggest challenge was figuring out how to produce Clio,” said Konchakovskiy. “At first, everyone we spoke to didn’t think it was possible to produce something like Clio. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands, purchased some old equipment and worked through the challenges myself. Today, we are working with upgraded, customised equipment, still producing our bars in New Jersey without the use of a co-packer.”
Using a proprietary process, the yogurt is strained to remove any unnecessary water, which leaves a thicker texture that is further supported by a chocolate casing.
According to Nielsen data reported by The Wall Street Journal, yogurt sales in the US fell 6% by volume in the 12 months to February 2019. Sales of Greek yogurt declined 11% during the same period.
Supermarket shelves stacked high with an overwhelming range – including French, Icelandic and organic varieties – of yogurts have arguably left consumers confused. Meanwhile, companies have looked to capitalise on plant-based trends with vegan options made with almonds, cashews, coconut or oats.
Seven Greek yogurt bar flavours are available: vanilla, strawberry, peanut butter, blueberry, hazelnut, espresso and honey.
Offering a new consumption occasion and enabling consumers to eat yogurt without spoons, Clio is looking to build a consumer fanbase and maintain momentum. The firm grew 275% from 2017 to 2018 and now has its products on sale in Walmart, Albertsons, Safeway and select Whole Foods regions.
Konchakovskiy said: “Consumers are always looking for balanced options that taste good and are good for you at every consumption occasion. With Clio, you have an on-the-go product that tastes like cheesecake but has the benefits of yogurt (8g+ of protein and billions of probiotics), making it the perfect ‘all treat, no cheat’ snack or dessert. This balance has resulted in rabid consumer love for Clio.”
He added: “In addition to having a differentiated offering, we have also challenged ourselves to continue to be curious and to never stop learning. My top tip is to absorb everything and use every setback as a learning experience that motivates you to try harder or implement a new tactic. I’m still learning and looking back I would do everything differently, but that’s the beauty of innovation; it gives you the opportunity to truly find your own way.”
Last month, Clio secured the backing of investment firm ACG – following on from their initial partnership in 2017. Clio is looking to invest in research and development, and has already broken ground on a new facility in New Jersey. The company will leverage ACG’s support to hire new talent as well as increase marketing expenditure.
Having already released two limited-edition flavours this year – salted caramel and coconut – Clio has “additional innovation in the pipeline”.
Konchakovskiy concluded: “Our team is always listening and gathering feedback, taking inspiration from consumers, retailers, and the world around us to drive creativity and new flavour launches.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019
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