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In 2017, Danone announced a commitment for its products to be healthier and more sustainable. Its latest offering in the YoPRO range is evidence of that. Kim Berry spoke with Xavier Gonzalez and Dr Michelle Rowney about its high protein bar range. This story was first published in Food & Drink Business April 2020.

The better-for-you market is still creating opportunities for brands to develop new products and offer consumers greater choice.

Danone launched its YoPRO range of no added sugar, high protein yoghurts in 2017. Since then it has added new products and flavours to the range, the latest being its ​YoPRO Nut Protein Bars.

YoPRO brand manager Xavier Gonzalez told Food & Drink Business the company saw a strong crossover between consumers purchasing its yoghurt and protein bars.

Gonzalez says: “Protein bars are heavily consumed post workout because they are convenient. We saw a gap in what was in the market for a balanced protein bar that blends high quality protein – 20 grams – with no added sugar while still tasting good.”

Working closely with Gonzalez was Danone research and innovation lead Dr Michelle Rowney, taking the YoPRO bar from an idea to a product.

Rowney told Food & Drink Business: “Xavier tried every bar we made. The close working relationship between marketing and R&D is not something I’ve seen at other places I’ve worked. It’s the reason why we can bring products to market as quickly as we do, the collegiate nature of how we work results in great outcomes.”

Rowney says that often when there is a white space in the market it is because what fits there is technically difficult.

“Working on a bar can seem quite straightforward, but when you factor in what we were trying to achieve – high protein, clean and no added sugars – it becomes quite challenging.”

In 2017, Danone unveiled a refreshed logo and inaugural company signature: One Planet. One Health.

At the time, the company said it reflected its vision that the health of people and the planet were interconnected, and it was intended as a call to action for everyone with a stake in food to adopt healthier, more sustainable eating and drinking habits.

“Once upon a time, when consumers were looking for high protein convenience, it was about making a shake.

“But now they are much more conscious about the ingredients they’re putting in their body. And then it moves to the macros – I want sugar but not refined sugar, I want 20 grams of protein and I want it to taste good,” Rowney says.

“And that is what YoPRO is about, naturality and no nasties but that becomes more difficult to deliver when moving from a dairy to a different category. Danone produces bars in other countries, but not in the YoPRO range. Even so, we knew it was in our capability.”

The 68 gram bars are aimed at consumers as an on-the-go and post-workout recovery snack option. They contain 20 grams of protein, which is regarded as the ideal amount of protein for post workout muscle growth and recovery. It has no added sugar, artificial sweeteners, colours or flavours.

Gonzalez says: “The bars also include an advanced protein blend with collagen, high fibre and a good source of energy to keep consumers fuelled throughout their daily routines.

“Flavours are Salted Caramel, Mixed Berry and Apple Cinnamon and are in the refrigerated yoghurt aisle in Woolworths stores.”

The bars are stocked in the refrigerated section because the texture and mouthfeel are more satisfying.

Rowney says they can be eaten at an ambient temperature, but the texture is a little softer.

“A standard protein bar goes really hard if it is refrigerated. It was another part of the challenge but we were not adding anything to the bar that didn’t meet our criteria of making a product as healthy as it can possibly be.”

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