Outside Business Journal

Clif Bar Breaks Into New Category: Pet Food

The company’s innovation lead says it's only the beginning of the brand's aggressive growth plans

Geoff Nudelman

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Among the several new product introductions Clif Bar made this year, its entrance into the pet category with Clif Pet seems to be the most ambitious—and unexpected.

“The segment for plant-based, better-for-pets treats is growing and there’s more evidence that this is a space for us to go after,” said Rizal Hamdallah, Clif’s chief innovation officer.

The initial offering of three jerky snacks for dogs (set to launch in early 2022) is the first new product release from the company’s Trailblazers Incubator, and a reflection of the increased influence of the pet market through the pandemic (as many as 23 million American households acquired a pet since April 2020). According to Hamdallah, the incubator serves to help the company conceive and grow new product ideas from within, and eventually bring them to market.

“The incubator is not an ‘or,’ but an ‘and’ to all of Clif’s business categories and part of a multi-pronged approach,” Hamdallah said.

Clif has made public its plans to double the company’s revenue by 2030, and the Trailblazers Incubator is a key part of the path to that goal, according to company officials. The development of a pet line also illustrates Clif’s readiness to step away from its core product offerings. 

“Pets are in our company’s DNA,” Hamdallah said. 

The pet line announcement caps a busy 2021 for the California-based company. Clif released four new products this year, including Clif Cereal. The company also owns Luna bar, which had a couple of new releases itself in 2021.

While Hamdallah didn’t share specifics about how much the new innovation efforts have cost the company to pursue, he confirmed that similar innovation will be a major piece of Clif’s business strategy in years to come. The Trailblazers Incubator will be a cornerstone of the company’s larger plan to stand out in one of nutrition’s most competitive segments, he said.

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