RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A local company making products from superfoods is cultivating quite a following. Health Warrior is one of the fastest growing companies out there and it’s all thanks to an ancient seed.
“You’re no longer a Division I athlete, you are lucky if you squeeze in a 30-minute run,” says Health Warrior CEO Shane Emmett. “You actually have to start paying attention to what you eat if you want to feel good.”
It was that recognition of age setting in, at least a little bit, that led former college swimmer Shane Emmett and his college friend athletes to start considering what they should be eating. They were disappointed in what they found.
“A great majority of the food Americans eat is packaged food, most of it is truly junk food and it’s causing all sort of problems across the country. Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular issues,” Emmett said.
That led them to read two books: “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Born to Run.” Through these, they discovered an ancient superfood: chia seeds. After some time in the kitchen
After some time in the kitchen testing different recipes, Health Warrior launched its line of all natural chia energy bars in 2011.
“We are the only bar that has a nutrient dense whole food, plant food as the number one ingredient,” Emmett said. “Most bars have cheaper, less healthy ingredients.”
They started out selling them online at Amazon.
Health Warrior took off big time in 2012 when the company was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal story about NFL players eating the chia products as part of their health regimens.
“(We) sold about 100,000 bars on Amazon in under an hour, ran totally out of stock for two months. Whole Foods Market called, said we tried your bars, they’re unlike anything else out there, we’d love to launch them nationally.”
The company has about two dozen different bars now, while selling millions and millions of them a month.
The bars are made in the midwest but Health Warrior’s management and marketing work out of the headquarters in Scott’s Addition.
Emmet says RVA has been a big part of the company’s success.
“It’s been fun being part of the community,” Emmett said. “Now that we’re bigger, we’ve grown quite a bit, we’ve been able to do more here. Our very first account was Ellwood Thompson’s local market. We’re in 15,000 stores now!”
Emmett says the bars are marketed as a breakfast alternative, a snack or a pre-workout pick me up. They’ve also just launched a line of pumpkin seed bars. Along with Ellwood Thompson’s you can find the energy bars at Target, Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Kroger and many other places.