Bobo’s Oat Bars owner Beryl Stafford shows off the new line of snack-sized Bobo’s Bites, with five bars in each box. Jonathan Castner/For BizWest

Healthy growth helps Bobo’s feel its oats

The growing interest in a combination of convenient and healthy foods is good for both consumers and for companies that fit that bill.

Beryl Stafford credits that hunt for alternatives to processed snacks and the increasing awareness of her company’s brand as pivotal reasons for the success of Bobo’s Oat Bars.

“People are looking for more convenient snack and breakfast items to go,” she said. “There are growing sales trends for on-the-go snacks.”

In North America, the general snack-food industry sales amounted to $124 billion in 2014, according to Statista, one of the world’s largest statistics portals.Merc100_2015bldrvalley

Things that give Bobo’s Oat Bars a unique appeal include its taste, its look and its packaging, said Stafford, president and founder of the company.

“I think our bars taste better than any on the market,” she said. “Since they’re not processed in a machine, the oats are whole as opposed to crushed, so when you take a bite you get a whole oat.

“Plus, they’re handmade, which gives them a homemade look.”

Stafford said she thinks the packaging sets the bars off from others on the shelf because it shows the product.

“Most are wrapped in foil, and ours is clear – I think people like to see what they’re buying.”

The company has been diligent about active promotions in addition to these original points that got Bobo’s into the public eye.

“We’re spending more marketing dollars and sponsoring more events like yoga festivals, marathons and bike races,” Stafford said, adding that the company has increased its sales staff as well.

Bobo’s also has increased the number of flavors and items it offers. The regular bars now come in 10 flavors including cranberry-orange and banana, and the gluten-free bars come in six flavors including peach and lemon-poppyseed.

A recent addition to the Bobo’s line is Bobo’s Bites – bars that are 1.3 ounces, just the right size for a quick snack or a packed lunch.  Five bars are in each box.

Bobo’s Oat Bars are reaching more people than the early days of the company and are available at all Whole Foods Markets in the region except for one, in Canada and all over the Caribbean, according to Stafford.

“We’re also in new channels,” she said, “not just in natural grocers but outdoor retailers like REI and coffee shops.”

In 2014 Bobo’s revenue was $6.1 million, up from $4.1 million in 2013 and $2.4 million in 2012. That puts the company’s growth at 48.78 percent for one year and 154.167 percent over the two-year span.

The name “Bobo’s” came from a nickname Stafford has for her oldest daughter, Alex.

“She came up with the first recipe from a cookbook,” Stafford said. “It used butter, corn syrup and refined sugars so I tweaked it to be vegan with non-refined sweetness, brown rice syrup, organic oats and lower glycemic sugars.”