Clif versus Kind: The battle of the snack bar brands over organics and sugar

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Clif Bar and Kind Snacks have engaged in an public spat. Pics: Clif Bar and Kind Snacks
Clif Bar and Kind Snacks have engaged in an public spat. Pics: Clif Bar and Kind Snacks

Related tags: Kind snacks, Clif bar, Mars incorporated, Organic, Non gmo, Sugar content

Clif Bar has issued a challenge to competitor Kind Snacks to transition to organic ingredients with Kind hitting back over sugar content.

Earlier this week, privately held Clif Bar placed a full-page advert in the print edition of The New York Times, as well as large online ads on the paper’s site, which read as an open letter to Kind CEO Daniel Lubetzky.

‘Do a truly kind thing and make an investment in the future of the planet and our children’s children by going organic,’ it read, signed by husband and wife co-CEOs Gary Erikson and Kat Crawford.

They listed the benefits of organic agriculture – including the reduced use of pesticides, being non-GMO and fighting climate change by storing more carbon in the soil – and reiterated Clif’s commitment to going organic.

‘This year, we celebrated the purchase of our billionth pound of organic ingredients and continue our relentless quest to move from our current 76% organic ingredients to 100%.’

However, they admitted the change had not been easy, and offered to help Kind in the task, adding they would ‘sweeten the deal’ by throwing in 10 tons of organic ingredients.

Targeting Kellogg’s, General Mills and Mars

Kind was not the only snack bar producer targeted by Clif.

Erikson and Crawford also suggested getting Kellogg’s RXBar​ and General Mills’ Lärabar on board, and even mentioned Mars, Incorporated.

‘Maybe a move to organic would even inspire your part-owner Mars to take its entire line of candy organic. Stranger things have happened.’

In 2017, Kind received a minority investment from Mars.

Sugar fight

Although purportedly designed to start a conversation about organic, the move is obviously a marketing ploy.

However, Lubetzky has fired back with a hard-hitting salvo.

His statement read, ‘Clif's approach in selling snacks made predominantly from organic brown rice syrup, which is basically sugar, isn’t the solution.

‘We’d be happy to meet and share why Kind focuses on making snacks that always lead with nutrient-dense ingredients like whole nuts, whole grains & whole fruit – instead of sugar. That is why Kind's leading snack bars have a fraction of the sugar in Clif's line up.’

The battle has spread to social media, with Kind posting an image of a Clif bar with the phrase ‘31% sugar’ and copy that reads ‘brown rice syrup is sugar, whether it's organic or not.’

In comparison, Clif's dark chocolate almond with sea salt bar contains 21g of sugar, whereas Kind’s dark chocolate nuts & sea salt bar only serves up 5g of sugar.

The two companies have long been rivals. Back in 2014, Kind Snacks took Clif Bar to court over alleged trademark infringements.

According to Euromonitor, the two brands are among the top-five bestselling snack bar brands in the US, with an estimated revenue of $890m (Clif Bar) and $800m (Kind) in 2018. 

Related topics: Ingredients, Health & Functionality

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