Will Ross, December 26, 2011
The history of humankind is punctuated by extraordinary revelatory moments, the birth of great ideas and the enactment of outstanding achievements. Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, Newton’s falling apple and Aron Ralston’s 127 hours are all examples of iconic changes in the history of our species. For Gary Erikson, a 175-mile bicycle ride in 1990 and the onset of exhaustion forced him to accept that his six energy bars just weren’t effective enough. Taking to the kitchen, Erikson began making his own recipes, eventually settling with a combination that lead to the founding of Clif Bar in 1992.
Over the last two decades the company has diversified significantly from homegrown recipes, now offering organic products for women and children while extending their performance range to include electrolyte mixes, recovery products and everyday nutritional snacks. Taking the concept of performance products further, the brand’s Team Clif page has offered a social forum that is full of features and events to help athletes and other professionals to become better at what they do. One of Clif’s most prominent project at the moment is their 2 Mile Challenge which serves as an example of the brand’s attempt to involve fans in the values of the company.
Beyond great products and nutritional benefits, Clif Bar places a high emphasis on protecting the environment. Their organic products are complimented by a mix of company policies to help reduce their overall environmental impact. At their headquarters in Emeryville, California, the company recycles, reduces and composts 70% of its waste while offering employees cash incentives to limit the footprint of their commutes to work. Employees can receive a $6500 taxable incentive to purchase a biodiesel or hybrid vehicle and are offered up to $500 for a commuter bicycle. Clif Bar even offers employees up to $1000 per year to install energy efficient systems in their homes.
Clif Bar has also taken the angle of raising the transparency of their supply train. Like fellow 1% Member Patagonia’s The Footprint Chronicles, Clif have outlined their four areas of responsible sourcing, dubbed CORE. ‘Connect’ deals with the link between farmers and the supply chain so making sure that the provenance of ingredients is understood and so respected by the consumer. The next focus, ‘Organic’, refers to an aim to raise organic ingredients from a 70% to an 80% share of the company’s products. ‘Restore’ aims to divert 90% of waste away from the landfills into renewable supply chains. Finally, ‘Ethical’ endorses the use of fair labour practices in agriculture and manufacturing.
With the growth of a nutritional culture comes a host of competitors for Clif. Having presented such an extensive set of environmental principles and practices over the last 20 years, it shall be interesting to see how the brand differentiates itself from other nutritional companies offering similar supplements. Indeed perhaps the greatest opportunity may come in approaching an emerging market of everyday health snackers, a demographic that is still preoccupied with confectioners that benefit from mass advertising campaigns about unhealthy products.
- Clif’s food philosophy.
- Top of 2010’s ten most successful brands.
- Check out events that Clif will be attending.
- Ride out from Clif-owned Velo Vino in Napa on Saturdays.