Clif Bar

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Clif Bar & Co.
Type Private
Founded 1992
Headquarters Emeryville, California, United States
Key people Gary Erickson, Kit Crawford (Co-Owners and Co-CVOs), Kevin Cleary (CEO), Michelle Ferguson (Executive Vice President of Marketing)
Products Energy Bars and Snacks

Clif Bar & Company is an American company that produces organic foods and drinks. The company's flagship product, CLIF Bar, was created by Gary Erickson. The company is based in Emeryville, California and is privately held.[1] In April 2013, Kevin Cleary was named CEO of the company; co-owners Erickson and Kit Crawford became co-chief visionary officers.[2]


Clif Bar products include CLIF Bar energy bar, CLIF Crunch Bar, CLIF Mojo Bar, CLIF Shot Hydration Drink and Protein Recovery, CLIF Mojo; LUNA, The "70% Organic" Whole Nutrition Bar for Women; CLIF Kid, Nourishing Kids in Motion, including Zbar, Zfruit rope, and Zfruit + Veggie rope, and new in 2013, KIT's Organic Fruit and Seed Bars.[3] All products use organic ingredients. Seventy percent of the company's purchased ingredients are certified organic.[4]

Company history[edit]

A baker and former mountain guide,[5] Erickson got the idea for his product in 1990 on a day-long, 175 mile bike ride, for which he packed a variety of energy bars.[6][7] Two years later after experimenting in his mother's kitchen, he settled on a recipe for what would become the CLIF Bar.[8] Erickson tried several names — including Forza, Torque, and Gary's Bar — before settling on CLIF Bar, named after his father Clifford.[9] The packaging image of a rock climber was first drawn by Doug Gilmour on a napkin over dinner in San Francisco.[9] At a September 1991 bike show, Erickson debuted three flavors: double chocolate, apricot, and date oatmeal. In its first year, sales of CLIF Bar exceeded $700,000, fueled primarily by strong sales in bike shops and the growth of the healthy and natural foods movement.[6] Sales doubled each year, and by 1997, revenue surpassed $20 million.[10] In 1997, the company name was changed from Kali's SportNaturals to Clif Bar & Company.[11] In 2010 the company moved into a new headquarters in the EmergyTech Building in Emeryville, California.[12] Designed by ZGF Architects LLP, the former manufacturing plant earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status.[13] The building was re-purposed and sustainably-designed with photovoltaic panels, solar thermal panels, reclaimed wood, plants and other biophilic features.[14]

In March 1999, Clif Bar introduced LUNA Bar, which was specifically marketed towards women. In April 2000, Erickson turned down a $120 million offer from Quaker Oats to buy the company.[15]

Clif Bar & Company was ranked the No. 1 brand in the Forbes "Breakaway Brands" survey, conducted by Landor Associates using Young & Rubicam’s BrandAsset Valuator database measuring brand momentum from 2006 to 2009.[16]

Other ventures[edit]

Erickson and Crawford founded the Clif Bar Family Foundation in 2006.[17] The foundation committed $1 million to promote organic seed research and conserve crop genetic diversity.[4]

Erickson and Crawford also own the Clif Family Winery & Farm in the Napa Valley, which had its first national release in 2008.[18]

Environmental sustainability[edit]

Clif Bar has instituted policies intended to make a more green-friendly business. The company switched to organic ingredients and eliminated shrink-wrap, thereby saving 90,000 pounds of plastic and $400,000 annually, and invested in wind energy to offset fossil fuel usage.[19]

In 2007, Clif Bar began giving employees $6,500 (taxed) to switch to bio-diesel or high-mileage hybrid cars to reduce fuel consumption.[7] As a bio-diesel incentive program, "Cool Commute" was the first of its type nationwide and drew praise from Al Gore for helping to aid the fight against global warming.[20] In 2008, the company began giving employees up to $500 to purchase a commuter bike, with annual rewards up to $960 for getting to work on foot, bicycle, or public transportation.[21] The company also began offering employees up to $1,000 annually to make eco-improvement to their homes, such as insulation, solar panel installation, and new windows.[22] In April 2009, Clif Bar joined Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, a coalition of companies including Nike, eBay and The North Face, with the goal of passing progressive climate and energy legislation.[23]

The company’s business practices are not without controversy, however. In 2012, Clif Bar came under fire for not disclosing where they source their chocolate from.[24] According to the nonprofit Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.), two West African countries, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, supply 75 percent of the world’s cocoa market. In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor and, in some cases, slavery on West African cocoa farms.[25] Volunteers with F.E.P. contact companies that make vegan products containing chocolate to find out if they source their cocoa beans from areas where slavery can still be found.[26] F.E.P. first contacted Clif Bar in May 2011, and the company has refused to disclose the source of its chocolate.[27] The nonprofit launched a campaign in March 2012 asking consumers to contact Clif Bar and demand transparency in light of the possible connection to child labor and human slavery.[24] On March 5, 2012, Clif Bar & Company announced that "100 percent of cocoa ingredients for CLIF Bar will be sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms." [28]

Company culture[edit]

In June 2010, Clif Bar initiated an employee stock ownership program (ESOP), which gave 20 percent ownership of the company to its employees, with Crawford and Erickson retaining the other 80 percent.[29][30]

Company facilities include an on-site gym, rock climbing wall, two yoga room/dance studios, and massage rooms. There are on-site showers so employees can shower after their workout. Employees also have access to free counseling and life coaching.[31] Employees can bring their dogs to work and get two and a half hours of paid exercise each week with free personal training. Clif Bar & Company was named among Outside magazine's Best Places to Work in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.[32][33][34][35][36]

In November of 2014 Clif Bar made a decision to limit risky behavior by its sponsored athletes stating "going forward we will not be sponsoring climbers who are primarily recognized for free-soloing, B.A.S.E. jumping and high-lining. This change in sponsorship approach did not come without great debate." They reasoned that "[They] no longer feel good about benefitting from the amount of risk certain athletes are taking in areas of the sport where there is no margin for error; where there is no safety net." [37]

Community outreach[edit]

Clif Bar's community outreach began in 2001 with the initial aim of donating 2,080 employee volunteer hours to community service.[38] In 2010, Clif employees donated 5,290 hours.[39] In 2008, Clif Bar initiated "In Good Company", which organizes employees across several companies to assist in larger development projects, such as in New Orleans, East Oakland, and the Hopi Reservation in Arizona.[40]


  1. ^ "CLIF BAR & COMPANY". fact sheet. Clif Bar & Company. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Frojo, Renee (April 24, 2013). "Clif Bar's Gary Erickson leaves CEO role". Mercury News. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "(Website/ Products)". Clif Bar & Company. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Lempert, Phil (February 9, 2012). "Sustainability Series: Clif Bar". The Lembert Report. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Riddell, Lindsay (March 2, 2012). "Gary Erickson, founder, co-owner and co-CEO of Clif Bar & Co.". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Dahl, Darren Clif Bar: How a Husband-Wife Team Built a $235 Million Empire ‘’AOL Small Business’’.
  7. ^ a b Hosni, Nadia Triple Bottom Line: Clif Bar & Company Tonic. July 7, 2010
  8. ^ Who We Are
  9. ^ a b Erickson, Gary and Lois Lorentzen. Raising the Bar: The Story of Clif Bar. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass. 2004.
  10. ^ From Out of the Gym, Into the Grocery Store The New York Times. November 22, 1997.
  11. ^ Clif Bar & Company: Company Overview Bloomberg Business.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Kaye, Leon (May 18, 2012). "Clif Bar Celebrates Its 20th Birthday With LEED Platinum Headquarters". Triple Pundit. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  14. ^ . McKnight, Jenna M (January 2012). "Clif Bar Headquarters". Greensource. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  15. ^ A Company Fueled by Athlete's Sweat The Wall Street Journal. March 24, 2010.
  16. ^ Breakaway Brands Offer Simple Pleasures Forbes. Oct. 8, 2010.
  17. ^ "Our Story". Clif Bar Family Foundation. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  18. ^ Ted Loos (May 7, 2008), Clif Hanger, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-05-14 
  19. ^ "The Pioneers". Inc. November 1, 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  20. ^ Al Gore congratulates Clif Bar on its biodiesel efforts Biodiesel Magazine. February 2007.
  21. ^ Steverman, Ben (September 14, 2011). "Creative Employee Benefits". Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  22. ^ Sustainability Benefits Program
  23. ^ Aspen Skiing, Clif Bar, and Seventh Generation Strengthen BICEP Climate Coalition Climate Biz. April 16, 2009.
  24. ^ a b Take Action
  25. ^ Humphrey Hawksley, “Ivory Coast accuses chocolate companies,” BBC News, May 4, 2001.
  26. ^ Chocolate List
  27. ^ Letter to Clif Bar, May 31, 2011
  28. ^ [2]
  29. ^ Clif Bar sells 20% stake to workers San Francisco Business Times. June 29, 2010.
  30. ^ How Clif Bar is Saving Retirement through CSR Triple Pundit. July 9, 2010.
  31. ^ [3]
  32. ^ Best Places to Work: Clif Bar and Company Outside Magazine. May 2010.
  33. ^ Best Places to Work Outside Magazine. May 2009.
  34. ^ The 50 Best Places to Work in America Outside Magazine. April 6, 2010
  35. ^ Madden, Kaitlin It’s Take Your Dog to Work Day June 25, 2010.
  36. ^ THE 30 BEST PLACES TO WORK: CLIF BAR [4] August 12, 2012
  37. ^ Clif Bar's Response: A Letter to the Climbing Community
  38. ^ Giving Back is a Key Ingredient Clif Blog.
  39. ^ Project 2080
  40. ^ "In Good Company". Cliff Bar & Company. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 

External links[edit]