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Startup Unreal aims to 'unjunk' the food market
June 14th, 2012
BOSTON – A new food company called Unreal Brands said it's on a mission to "unjunk the world," starting with a line more healthful candy products.
Unreal Brands said Thursday that its first products — dubbed Unreal candy and due out this summer — include five alternatives to some of the nation's best-selling candies and are made with real ingredients, less sugar and without hydrogenated oil, corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, or preservatives.
The company has partnered with major national retailers. CVS/pharmacy was the first to sign on and is slated to begin carrying Unreal candy in its 7,300 stores starting in July. Overall, 30,000 stores nationwide will be offering the products, including Walgreens, Rite Aid, Staples, Kroger, Target, BJ's Wholesale Club and Michael's.
Unreal candy, available in five varieties at launch, offers less sugar and fat, fewer calories, more protein and more fiber than leading brands, the company said.
At launch, Ureal candy will come in five varieties: Unreal 41 Candy Coated Chocolates, Unreal 54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanuts, Unreal 77 Peanut Butter Cups; Unreal 5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar, and Unreal 8 Chocolate Peanut Caramel Nougat Bar.
According to Unreal Brands, the candies contain 45% less sugar, 13% less fat, 23% fewer calories, 149% more protein and 250% more fiber than industry-leading brands, on average, per unit.
Unreal Brands noted that its product reflects the growing concern over obesity and diabetes, and its launch comes at a time when teens consume an average of 24 teaspoons of corn syrup a day (34 teaspoons of total sugar a day), a leading television network has pledged to stop running ads for unhealthy foods, and the nation's largest city aims to regulate the sale of oversized sodas.
The company's rationale, conveyed on its website getunreal.com and Facebook page, is that if Unreal can offer consumers a better choice with great taste and less sugar — without the junk — that they can buy in the same places and not have to pay more, it can help change their expectations from junk food and in turn motivate other companies to follow.
Based in Boston, Unreal Brands is co-founded by Michael Bronner, who previously founded Digitas and Upromise and is providing significant funding for Unreal. Leading the Unreal team is president Carlos Canals, who formerly served as president and general manager of Kashi and previously was president and chief executive officer of Tribe Mediterranean Foods. He led the successful integration of two acquisitions by the Osem Group, a subsidiary of Nestle, which purchased Tribe and Veggie Patch, a vegetarian brand.
Others involved in the startup include entrepreneurs, business leaders and advocates for more nutritious foods, such as Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter; Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems; Jim Pallotta, managing director of Raptor Capital Management; and NFL quarterback Tom Brady, model/actress Gisele Bundchen and actor Matt Damon.
World-renowned chef Adam Melonas is Unreal's co-founder and chief innovation officer. He previously served in some of the world's top restaurants.
"We knew that the junk that is in traditional candy is there for the candy company, and not for the consumer," Melonas commented. "It's there to make it cheap to manufacture and to keep the candy on the shelf for a long time."