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Tuesday, October 20, 2020
filed under: Utilization/Trade: Confection-Non-oil

      Since 2012, a North Dakota company has been quietly focusing on providing healthier options, through ProBiotein-based products.
       Jody Kerzman visited with Jordan Thornberg, the company’s production lead, about the role that sunflower plays in their products.
Explain the idea behind your product? 
       We make a prebiotic fiber and gut health bar, called the MicroBiome Bar®, which comes in four tasty flavors. The bar serves as a convenient grab-and-go option for those looking to support their digestive health.  The MicroBiome Bar’s key ingredient is a fermented product that we also produce, called ProBiotein®, which is a powder that can be added to smoothies and baked goods.
How is sunflower used in your product?
       We feature sunflower kernels in our original MicroBiome Bar flavor, P-Nutty Cranberry.  In our latest flavor, Sunny Saskatoon Berry, we use sunflower butter.
Why do you use sunflower?
       While our other flavors of the MicroBiome Bar use peanut butter and almond butter, we also wanted to offer a more allergen-friendly option with sunflower butter.
Where do you get the sunflower you use?
       Being located in North Dakota, we love the idea of using ingredients from close to home when possible. The sunflower butter we use was made right here in our state.
What makes your products stand out?
       In a landscape where probiotics are becoming more well known, we’re taking it a step further with prebiotics, which are fibers that serve as food for the naturally occurring probiotic bacteria you already have in your digestive tract.  Additionally, we feature not one but five different prebiotics: AXOS, XOS, MOS, FOS and Beta-glucan.
What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way?
       As with any new business, the hurdles of growth are no stranger to us.  There’s a bit more of a story involved with how our products work, so getting that word out is key.  Trade shows have been a nice venue for us to engage face to face with potential customers.
Approximately how much sunflower do you use each year?
       It’s a bit early to say at this point since we’ve used sunflower butter only in our latest bar offering.
Where can your products be purchased?
       ProBiotein and the MicroBiome Bar are available on Amazon, Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Swanson Health here in North Dakota, and with a growing list of retailers around the United States.
What are the latest trends in each market segment you serve?
       There is an increasing awareness of how supporting digestive health contributes to overall wellness.  About 70% of your immune system response come from your large intestine, and consumers are keeping a closer eye on the foods they eat.  Bacteria within the gut act as another organ within the body.  Also, the “Gut-Brain Axis” is being more understood.
What is your customer’s perception of sunflower?
       It’s not as commonly used as a butter compared to peanuts and almonds, so when people hear that we feature sunflower butter, their interest level tends to perk up.
Are there any new offerings, new products on the way?
       We used to package the MicroBiome Bar in a two-piece configuration; but with as dense and filling as the bars are, we’ve switched to a single-piece 40-gram package.  We also offer a resealable variety pouch that has all four flavors.
Are you doing advertising, PR, social media or grassroots efforts to promote your product?  If yes what? 
       We’ve taken to the radio waves, print, as well as social media, but it’s always fun to hear when a customer heard about us from their friends or family.
What does the future hold for your company? New products? New promotions or marketing strategies?
         Chains like Sprouts Farmer’s Market and others are picking up the MicroBiome Bar.  Now we are also providing our ProBiotein multi-prebiotic fiber as an ingredient for smoothies, hot cereals, baking and cold formed goods.  In this era of heightened immune awareness, we have products that can support the fight against diseases.
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