Abbott Laboratories, a north suburban Chicago-based healthcare company primarily known for heart stents, medical and diagnostic equipment, is expanding its food and nutrition business with the introduction of a line of ready-to-eat snack bars under the Curate brand.
As snacks and smaller meals continue to be a big part of daily diets, people continue to look for nutritious snacks made with wholesome, real food ingredients – as well as rich, complex flavors. The company said it had this in mind when developing Curate snack bars.
Better known for medical devices and drugs, Abbott is no stranger to the supermarket. It has a long heritage in baby nutrition with Similac formula and makes Pedialyte and Ensure products, as well as nutrition bars and protein powders aimed at exercise buffs.
Nutrition products are the biggest part of Abbott's business, which totals 34 percent of its overall sales ($20.4 billion in 2015). But the nutrition division's sales grew less than one percent in 2015, as its international business was hurt by the strong dollar.
The idea behind Curate is to build on Abbott's expertise in nutrition and create products for the on-the-go consumer that aren't purely focused on the medical benefit, says Abbott spokesperson Susan Oguche. "This is one of the first nutrition brands Abbott has launched in about 15 years," Oguche adds. "There's a lot of support behind it."
Dustin Finkel, general manager for nutritious snacks at Abbott, points out that "Even with countless nutritious snack options in store, people told us they still weren't quite satisfied and were often looking to make their own snacks using ingredients from their kitchen. We saw this as an opportunity to create a snack brand that tastes handcrafted, with rich textures and flavors you would expect from a chef and blends of ingredients you can find in nearly every grocery or natural food store."
The bars feature ingredients like Mission figs, Marcona almonds, balsamic vinegar, quinoa, chia seeds and elderberry. Each protein-filled bar is gluten- and artificial preservative-free and non-genetically modified. A good source of plant-based fiber, the bars come in six flavors that each marry to create unexpected flavor combinations.
Abbott is entering a competitive arena that includes cereal-makers such as Kashi, Quaker Oats and Kellogg, as well as companies devoted to snacks like Kind Healthy Snacks and Clif Bar. The ingredients have expanded beyond nuts and oats to include chocolate, dried fruits and more exotic grains like quinoa.
Available nationwide at major grocery, mass merchandise and natural food stores, Curate bars will be joined this spring by Curate Kids bars, the company says, and other new snacks will follow later this year.