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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Created on May 24th, 2023
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

SANS 2023 - The REAL Food Bar

DeliveryRank has the pleasure of chatting with Nathan Gordon from SANS. We find out why the SANS Meal Bar takes the simple meal replacement to another level.

How did the world of meal replacements first draw your attention?

I was working in Finance and was in no way passionate about the world of health, wellness and nutrition. I was struggling with lack of fulfillment, depression and anxiety. A good friend who sat in the office next to me encouraged me to cut out added sugar and processed foods from my diet. I followed his advice and was blown away by how different I felt both physically and mentally. 

I found myself looking for these kinds of products and the only form of meal replacement that I found was in the form of drinks, full of added sugars and processed ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. The idea of creating a meal replacement from simple ingredients that you could eat as opposed to drinking popped into my head and it became quite clear that no one else out there was doing this. It was a simple idea - a full meal in a package format that makes it super easy to get the necessary nutrients when either busy, traveling or simply trying to eat more healthily. 

How difficult was it to obtain the perfect SANS Meal bar and what science went into its manufacture?

We knew that we only wanted to use real food so the bigger picture was not complicated. The process of selecting the core flavors was more intuition than data driven and I think we were pretty lucky in this respect. We were able to come up with a core product with some flavor iterations that we were happy with within 5 or 6 months. Finding a co-packer and moving to production was quite difficult and was definitely a steep learning curve. 

Initially we were making the product by hand and it was, needless to say, labor intensive. The real challenge occurred when we had to scale the formulas to an automated process. We had to eliminate two of our initial flavors because we couldn’t scale them and many of our process adjustments needed to be changed which took a lot of testing and iteration. We are still in the process of scaling things up to make more and more units and this has always proved to be the biggest challenge. 

Where do you source your ingredients and how sustainable are you?

We use such simple and common ingredients that sourcing is not really a major differentiator  for our business. We work closely with our co-packer and we both source the ingredients. We are very aware of sourcing products that contain no additives and only real food ingredients but this, of course, can be vetted out. 

How do you see the future of your industry and where to from here?

From an industry perspective, we believe in a simple truth that real food is the future. This industry is largely driven by marketing machines of the bigger companies. Many products or fad products contain questionable ingredients of which the long-term effects are unknown. As consumers, we love short-cuts and if there are products that can give us certain outcomes (or claim to), people run to them. However, these products come and go and do not remain long-term trends. 

Our long-term trend belief is that the ingredient list is going to be a lot more prevalent to the consumer in the future than the nutrition fact statement. More and more people want to understand what exactly is in their food. We are big advocates of the notion popularized more recently by Michael Pollan that ingredients that cannot be pronounced by a third grader should not be consumed. This will play an important role in the future of the industry - doing complex things simply - and we will be a part of this future. 

You speak of combating worldwide hunger - how is SANS contributing?

Worldwide hunger and undernutrition are tragic problems. The statistics say that 1 in 9 people globally do not have enough to eat to live a normal active life. Two billion people worldwide suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies and undernutrition is the cause of 45% of deaths globally in children under 5 years old. 

Our program is called Buy Meals, Give Meals. For every pack of our meal bars sold, we give a meal to someone in need. The heart of this program is in Haiti which suffers from immense poverty. We have partnered with several organizations and we try to serve and help the most isolated and vulnerable people in Haitian society - those who really have no idea where their next meal will come from. We still have a lot of work to do in Haiti but ultimately our aim would be to bring this project back to the US, once we are hopefully one day a much bigger company. Watch the space.

If you would like to find out more about Sans Meal Bar, visit https://sansmealbar.com/ or follow on https://www.instagram.com/sansmealbar/

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