Pederson's No Sugar Added Bacon features the Whole 30 Approved logo.

Meating the need

Rooney created his company, Tucson, Arizona-based DNX Foods, and his products, DNX meat bars, to meet the needs of meat eaters. Or more specifically, those on meat centric diets that are looking for healthful ways to get more meat protein in their snacks.

“Our goal was to develop a meat bar that delivered protein as nature intended it,” Rooney says. “We saw that there were good tasting snack bars on the market that weren’t good for you and good-for-you bars that didn’t taste good. We wanted to give our customers both.”

DNX meat bars contain grass-fed bison or beef and organic vegetables in flavor combinations that aren’t typical for snack bars – Jamaican-style, Mexican-style, sweet potato pecan, dark cacao cherry coconut and fennel sweet potato. DNX will soon be adding chicken and pork varieties to their line of meat bars.

Aside from the flavors, the difference in DNX bars versus other meat-centric snacks like beef jerky is that those types of meat snacks only contain protein – DNX bars deliver protein, carbohydrates and fat in almost equal amounts.

“Our bars have been designed to emulate a meal, so you get a bit of everything,” Rooney says. “DNX bars have 10 to 15 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrates from complex carb sources like sweet potatoes and 8 to 11 grams of fat from sources like coconut oil.”

All of the protein in the bars comes from meat – not from powder protein sources like whey or pea protein. “It’s important nutritionally to have meat in your diet,” Rooney explains. “The protein in meat is more nutritionally dense than other sources of protein. There are certain things that our bodies need that can only come from animal protein.”

Despite being on the market for just one year, DNX bars have already gone through a small formulation change. In order to earn the Whole30 program stamp of approval the company had to pull honey from the formulation (honey is not on the Whole30 approved sweeteners list). Rooney subtracted the honey and added dates to the bars to provide sweetness and some binding qualities. After that change, the bars will be able to feature the “Whole30 Approved” logo, which will open up a new customer base (Read more about the Whole30 Approved program in “Whole30 approved,” Page 22).

“It means a lot when you have companies like DNX … going out of their way to change product ingredients specifically so they can service our [the Whole30] community,” says Melissa Hartwig, author and co-creator of the Whole30 program. “That says a lot about the power of the program and the certification and how responsive these companies are to want to open themselves up to a new market.”

The newly formulated DNX bars featuring the Whole30 Approved logo are hitting the market in January, just in time for New Year’s resolutions to kick in.

“I think their addition to the Whole30 Approved lineup will be one of most welcome announcements we’ve made all year,” Hartwig says. “My community is already going crazy for the idea to have another option for portable protein for their January Whole30.”

No-sugar proteins

A number of Hamilton, Texas-based Pederson’s Natural Farms’ products now feature “Whole30 Approved” and “Paleo friendly” labels. The company that produces sausage, hot dogs and hams, but mostly bacon, made adjustments to its products to cater to the popular meat-centric diets. The company launched its no-sugar line in 2012.

“We were really looking for gaps in the meat category. What were consumers asking for, and how could we potentially meet their needs as they pertained to meat protein?” says Stacy Dudley, vice president of marketing at Pederson’s. “What we noticed was that there was a big demand for no-sugar proteins, specifically in the Whole30 and Paleo communities and no-sugar pork bacon seemed to be really hard to find. We were seeing at least two posts a week on our Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and blog comments asking, ‘Where can I find no-sugar or Whole30 approved bacon?’ This really prompted us to start the conversation. We knew we had the product, it was just a matter of finding ways to educate consumers and create awareness of its availability.

“We are continuously looking for ways to clean up our labels by simplifying our ingredients. We’ve removed allergens, sugars, unnecessary ingredients... basically all the junk. We’re a no-nonsense kind of company both in our ingredients and in our process,” Dudley says. “We are continually evaluating our callouts on our packaging and making sure we are communicating the most important points of difference.”

Pederson’s products not only feature “Whole30 Approved” and “Paleo friendly” labels, they boast claims including no sugar added, vegetarian fed, raised without antibiotics, humanely raised, no nitrates or nitrites added and no preservatives.

“We want to develop products that meet our customer’s needs,” Dudley says. “Protein diets definitely provide a niche opportunity in our category.”