WEST CHICAGO, Ill. — Phyter Food, creator of the first vegetable-based nutrition bars, today announced a $1 million investment from the Sustainable Local Food Investment Group (SLoFIG), a network of accredited angel investors committed to supporting Chicago-area food companies, and another private investor. The funding has enabled the West Chicago-based startup to purchase kitchen equipment needed to fulfill orders from Midwest retailers including Whole Foods Market and will also be used to begin a marketing program.
Phyter bars are the creation of Chef David Choi Jr., who grew up in a household of Korean vegan chefs and served as head chef at his family’s Amitabul restaurant in Chicago for nine years. Handcrafted and cooked in small batches, they are the first nutrition bars featuring farm-fresh vegetables and/or fruit as their #1 ingredient. They are also organic, kosher, vegan, and free of GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, chemicals, preservatives, and added oils or fats, providing a ‘clean’ new plant-based bar option for consumers on the go.
The Phyter brand debuted commercially in December 2016 after a four-year sampling process at cooking classes, sports events, health clubs, and eventually a Whole Foods tasting event in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. In keeping with the retailer’s policy of supporting local food producers, Whole Foods personnel encouraged Choi and fellow owner/partners Gloria Athanis and Jeff Adeszko to bring the product to market, counseled them on package design and certification needs, launched it in 10 stores, and quickly expanded distribution to the entire Midwest region.
Today, Phyter refrigerated bars are sold at all 52 Whole Foods stores in the Midwest as well as at Sunset Foods, The Grand, Equinox health clubs and other locations in the Chicago metropolitan area. Flavors include Sweet Potato + Coconut, Butternut Squash + Peanut Butter, Cranberry + Strawberry, Beets + Cocoa, and a new Kale + Apple that will be in stores next year.
“Phyter bars are not only a perfect fit with our mission of supporting sustainable startup and early-stage food businesses across the entire Chicago food value chain, but also a truly new kind of product in the nutrition bar category,” said SLoFIG member Teri Lowinger. “Our investment is intended to help the company scale to meet sales demand in the Midwest and build the foundation they need to gain national distribution.”
“Both Whole Foods and SLoFIG members understand the mission of the Phyter brand and have played pivotal roles in getting us from the kitchen to the retail market,” Adeszko said. “With today’s growing interest in healthy snacking, 60% growth in the nutrition bar category since 2011, and our differentiation as the first farm-fresh bar, we are now in a strong position to accelerate our growth and dominate the nutrition bar segment.”
About Phyter Food
Phyter Food is the creator of Phyter nutrition bars, the first products of their kind with farm-fresh, phytonutrient-filled vegetables and/or fruit as their #1 ingredient. The bars offer a better-for-you, organic, plant-based alternative for on-the-go snacking that is also kosher, vegan, and free of GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, chemicals and preservatives. For more information, visit www.phyterfood.com.
The Sustainable Local Food Investment Group (SLoFIG) has invested more than $2.2million in 14 Chicago-area food businesses all along the food supply chain since 2011, from producers to aggregation/distribution, grocers, restaurants and consumer packaged goods. SLoFIG members identify promising startup and early-stage companies, then provide capital, expertise and a network of contacts to help grow their businesses. For more information, visit http://slofig.com.