- RX debuted RXBar A.M., a line of clean-label breakfast bars sweetened by honey and coconut sugar. Egg white provides the protein, while soft rolled oats, nut butter and crispy brown rice offer a softer, crispy mouthfeel.
- The line includes three flavors: Blueberry, Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter and Chocolate. They have 10 grams of protein and between 12 and 14 grams of total sugars each. RXBar A.M. first launched at Whole Foods and Target, and will expand to other retailers throughout the summer.
- This marks the latest offering for the morning daypart from RX, which in the past few years launched its own lines of cereal and oatmeal. With A.M. bars, the Kellogg-owned brand aims to offer consumers venturing out of the house a portable better-for-you breakfast.
While RXBar A.M. embraces the same "No B.S." ethos as the brand's signature clean-label energy bar, it is designed to complement, not replace it, representatives say.
"There's a huge opportunity here with an incremental morning occasion," said Eileen Flaherty, senior brand manager for RXBar, at a media event at RX's Chicago headquarters last week. "We know 50% of bar consumption happens in the morning, but we also know our core bar plays mainly in the afternoon occasion. So this is specifically designed for the morning routine. It's a way to offer more variety throughout the day for our products."
R&D staff emphasized the visual, aroma and taste experience of the new line. Similar to RX's other products, the bars feature their key ingredients on the front of their packaging. Each variety contains soft rolled oats and brown rice for chewiness, pumpkin seeds for crunch and visual appeal, peanut or cashew butter for binding, and egg whites — an RX staple ingredient — for its highly digestible protein.
And while the brand's clean-label RXBar is sweetened with dates, the A.M. bars are formulated with a combination of honey and coconut sugar. The swap lightens the texture of the bars, giving them more of a baked goods mouthfeel.
RX used a process called "fast prototyping" to quickly develop the A.M. bar product and its three varieties. It began by building a base flavor, and then playing with different flavor notes, said Noe Rizo, senior director of R&D.
"We bring insights and analytics, some consumers, marketing, R&D, the culinary team," he said. "And once you build the base, and you build the adjacencies, you start to look at which one is going to deliver better flavor. And then we come to a consensus with the consumer, and we get back to the final prototypes."
Dialing into the best flavor profile proved important for the Blueberry variety. The berry's taste was found to be polarizing during consumer testing, so the team focused on the interplay of ingredients to keep it in check.
"If you have too much [blueberry flavor], it almost has a chemical aftertaste," Rizo said. "But the balance with the honey, salt, peanut — it really helps mitigate some of that."
The chewy, whole oat base of the A.M. bar line drew similarities during the media event to Clif Bar, which has been in an arms race of sorts with players including RX and Kind Bar to own the clean-label breakfast space. Last year, Clif Bar & Company introduced its own line of cereals. Kind expanded into frozen smoothie bowls and granola, and has its own line of breakfast bars. Last July, RX introduced RX Cereal, which features pea protein, almonds and brown rice for protein. It made its first foray into breakfast in 2019 with single-serve oatmeal cups.
RX has tried to differentiate from the competition by using honey, which its consumer research shows as the No. 1 preferred sweetener in bars. The RX team pointed out that the new A.M. bar line does not contain brown rice syrup, a key ingredient in Clif Bar. Total sugar content is also a few grams less per serving than many of Clif's energy bar varieties.
"When you look at our competitors, I think we do a much better job of having ... consumer-friendly ingredients," said Thomas Ring, product developer for RXBar A.M.