China and India key targets for all-natural Russian snack bar firm

By Lester Wan contact

- Last updated on GMT

Founder Elena Shifrina says China is a priority and the company has also started negotiations with partners in India. ©BioFoodLab
Founder Elena Shifrina says China is a priority and the company has also started negotiations with partners in India. ©BioFoodLab
A Russian snack bar firm – spearheaded by a former model and oil trader – has unveiled plans to expand in Asia, with China and India identified as two key priorities.

Elena Shifrina founded BioFoodLab in 2011 to manufacture snack bars, which are free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), gluten, milk, soy, sugar, preservatives, dyes, flavours and emulsifiers.

“I don’t understand why sugar is added to foods if you can use fruits and berries in your recipes. I'm against adding preservatives when innovative food production technologies are available,”​ says Shifrina.

All BioFoodLab’s snacks are produced at their own factory in Moscow, Russia. They have developed novel technology for processing raw fruit and nut ingredients, which allows it to preserve all the nutrients without adding any chemical ingredients. For each type of product, BioFoodLab has its own drying technology.

The process is constructed in full compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles, which eliminates contamination and pollution of the ready products.

BioFoodLab’s snack bars are already available in 14 countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet republics), Europe and Asia. It had just launched sales in the UK this year.

A particular region of interest to Shifrina is Asia.

“The healthy lifestyle trend in Asia is developing at great pace and this is worth underscoring,” she ​says.

She adds, “A big priority for us right now is China. At the moment, we ship small volumes to the online portal, Tmall.com (operated by the Alibaba Group).”

India interest

“We plan to increase our distribution volume and move into offline. According to our estimates, China will account for 10% of our business in the future,” ​she says.

BioFoodLab only started distributing in the Middle East and Asia (both online and offline) in 2016. The newest market in Asia Shifrina is eyeing is India.

“We started negotiations and our partners are immensely interested in our products,”​ she says.

“It takes time to agree on all the logistics and to receive certification before we can get on supermarket shelves,” she adds.

BioFoodLab and Shifrina had won Forbes Start Up Russia 2013 and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2014.

Apart from being all-natural, BioFoodLab’s original line of fruit and nut bars, Bite, contains ingredients such as fibre and healthy fatty acids (Omega-3), vitamins E and A, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. They later started to add superfoods, such as chia and flax seeds.

BioFoodLab’s product range now includes Slim Bite low-calorie bars and nutritious Bite Candy. It also produces Bitey snacks for kids, chewy natural marmalades, and oat and fruit squares. Shifrina says they are developing an entirely new line of healthy products, which will be revealed on their Twitter account. 

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