Kate’s Real Food Keeps it Real in Competitive Bar Market

Kates Real Food Bars Kristen Scarbrough

Photo Credit: Kate's Real Food

On Kate’s Real Food’s website, Founder Kate Schade is described as fearless. She has created something from nothing using a background in farming and a thirst for adventure as a catalyst. That sounds fearless enough. We had the privilege to chat with Schade and Michelle McAndrews, director of marketing and eCommerce, about bridging the gap between making products at home to starting a full-fledged business, and why honey is a key ingredient in both the bars and bites.

Taking a Leap of Faith

When formulating Kate’s Real Food bars, Schade says that she wanted a food bar that she could put in her pocket. Of course, taste was paramount, and she wanted to know and recognize all of the ingredients that were in it. She chose the ingredients to match her personal taste in the beginning, but then friends and family members started to love them too and asked for seconds. Honey, of course, was a part of that equation.

“It was honestly like going to business school for me, which I never in my life — I told myself — was going to have a desk job and start a bonafide business,” Schade says. “But I really learned a lot in the process, and all of the people you meet along the way want to help, even at the store level. The process was intimidating at first, but super important.”

Honey’s All-Natural Qualities

To make the leap into a profitable business was no easy task, and what sets Kate’s Real Food bars apart from the competition is the taste and texture of the bars. Harkening back to Schade’s days of hand making each bar, the line still tastes like they’re homemade. They have a little bit of chew and a little bit of crunch, and Schade says that honey was one of the big things that helped launch the flavor profile.

“I seriously think honey has changed the bar. It’s a real, whole ingredient — nothing weird that you’re putting in your body,” she says.

Kate’s Real Food markets to active, adventurous types, and the bar is made for those who love to backpack, hike, bike and more. So it certainly helps to have an all-natural sweetener that provides an energy boost. Schade says that when she was a child her family had hives on the farm, so honey was an ingredient that she knew would be in her product.

“We had someone come and service the hives, and we provided the land. In turn they would give us jars of honey,” she says. “At an early age, I started to love honey. The carb source is really an added benefit, and it replenishes your glycogen stores better than other sugars.”

Honey is also a great binder in bars, something that Schade calls her “secret weapon.”

“It’s really easy to work with honey,” she says. “I think the one thing that I’ve noticed with honey is with the changing of the seasons and flavor of honey. I can taste it in our bars, when it’s a stronger honey due to seasonal change. I don’t mind a little bit of variance, though.”

Schade says she has more flavors in her back pocket for 2023, but the most recent release is the Oatmeal, Cranberry & Almond bar, of course with honey as the sweetener.

From Bar to Bite

After success in the bar category, Kate’s took a true nibble out of the bars and launched the Snack Bites line, which includes honey-sweetened varieties like Dark Chocolate Cherry & Almond and Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate.

Photo Credit: Kate's Real Food

Michelle McAndrews, director of marketing and eCommerce, says that Snack Bites came about simply because they were fan favorites.

“We used to give out samples back when we made the bars in a small facility in Idaho. We took the trays out and gave out bite-sized pieces, and that’s when we tried out different variations,” she says.

McAndrews says that the most important takeaway, however, is how key honey and bees are for the environment and the world’s food supply. “I feel like through our products we’re hopefully educating people more about how critical honey is to the world.”