Well, well, well – you know a ‘trend' (Soapbox moment: Paleo is NOT a trend but the media would love you to think so) has got big enough when the big supermarkets start producing products specifically for it. Let's take a look at Aldi's take on a ‘Paleo Bar' and whether they can compete with the high-end Paleo-friendly bars that have been flooding the UK market over the last 2 years.
, Primal Pantry
and Primal Joy Foods
– to name but a few of the great brands which have been born over the last 3 to 4 years to fill the demand in the market for cleaner energy and protein bars for those who follow a Paleo or Clean Eating lifestyle.
Arriving at work today, I found these two bars sat on my desk – my colleague had spotted them in Aldi and thought I'd want to try them (he knows me well!).
And at £2 for 5 bars (!!), at first glance what's not to love, they are massively cheaper than a lot of the bars available on the market (often coming in at £1.50 to £2.50 per bar). My cynical brain always asks what you're compromising on if the price is lower (although supermarkets will have much better buying power for the ingredients than the smaller brands).
The bars come in two flavours, Brazil Nut & Cherry and Macadamia & Coconut.
My usual team of testers (aka the office mates) were on hand to try them out with me, here's what we thought:
Rather Ronseal, does what it says on the tin - you can't get away from the fact that it's a ‘Paleo Bar'. Muted natural colours add to the feeling of something earthy and natural. Pleasing rather than overwhelmingly cool.
On the back, the nutrition info is fairly buried and not easy to work out how much good stuff (or otherwise is in the bar) because they only give you the per 100g value, not 45g which is the bar size. Soapbox monent no.2: The ‘satisfaction for your inner caveman' is jumping on the Paleo bandwagon a smidge too much for my liking. At also sounds a bit like a Snickers/Yorkie strapline rip-off to me and, well, tis a bit sexist too! ;-)
Taste & Texture
Macadamia & Coconut – pleasant coconut taste (only a hint of macadamia) and it's moister than I was expecting but a little gritty. Compared to a flapjack but not sweet and gritty. Blander than a lot of other brands we've tested (and we've tested a fair few including ……). Overall, it's alright!
Brazil Nut & Cherry – too nutty (much stronger nut flavour than the Macadamia bar!). Cherry aftertaste which mellows the nut flavour at the end. A harder eat and probably only for true ‘nutters' ;-) Fairly moist and not gritty, so a better texture than the Macadamia & Coconut.
Macadamia & Coconut – Dates (49%), Cashew Nuts (21%), Coconut (20%), Macadamia Nuts (10%), Almond Oil.
Note: Looks almost *exactly* the same as the Primal Pantry Macadamia & Coconut bar, I think if I were them I'd not be too happy..... personally I prefer the texture of the Primal Pantry bar.
Brazil Nut & Cherry – Dates (50%), Brazil Nut pieces (40%), Dried Sour Cherries (10%), Almond Oil
For both bars, you can't knock how simple and clean the ingredients are – you could argue the quality of the nuts, fruits and almond oil would be inferior (I'm guessing not organic, sprouted etc but a lot of other brands aren't either so it's not a criticism, just an observation). Beats any other supermarket ‘healthy' bars I've seen anyway.
The big issue – the amount of dates in the bars to make them sweet enough to be palatable – it's half the bar. Generally the percentage of dates is much higher than a lot of other bars we've reviewed.
Natural sugar is still sugar and so you shouldn't be looking to these bars to be a meal replacement or regular snack (without some serious exercise going on to burn it off – and even then, not ideal from a total sugar consumption point of view).
The volume of dates is what makes the bars taste a) sweet b) moist and keep the cost down. Just depends what you're willing to compromise on.
|Macadamia & Coconut Bar||Per 100g||Per 45g bar|
|of which saturates||13g||6g|
|of which sugars||35g||16g|
|Brazil Nut & Cherry Bar||Per 100g||Per 45g|
|of which saturates||6.2g||2.8g|
|of which sugars||37g||17g|
There's some decent fat in these for sustained energy and high fibre BUT just keep any eye on those sugars - ouch.
Macadamia & Coconut – 7/10 (but up to an 8/10 for value for money at 40p per bar)
Brazil Nut – 5/10 (but 6/10 for value for money at 40p per bar)
Do I think the likes of Crobar, Zoic, Primal Pantry and Primal Joy Foods will be quaking in their (caveman or cavewoman) boots? Well, yes and no. I think initially they may see a dip in sales as curiosity switches some brand allegiance to the supermarket offering.
However in the long run, I think the quality of the ingredients of these brands shine through and I believe the majority of their target market will go back to paying the premium for it. This supermarket offering from Aldi (which will surely be copied by others – are there any others already out there?) is a good attempt and will appeal to the masses as a clean snack more due to the price point, I just hope they get consumed in moderation as part of a balanced (paleo) diet!
Have you tried them yet? Will you?