By David Scott
As the father of very active two-year-old twins I'm frequently in need of a quick and convenient energy boost. There is an ever expanding range of what purport to be healthier snacks containing combinations of fruit, nuts, seeds and cereals. What marks out Geobar in a crowded market is that it was the first product made from several different Fairtrade ingredients.
Over 200 million bars have been sold since Geobar was given the Fairtrade Mark in 1999. So, as Geobar supports and works with producers around the developing world, one of its key selling points is that you can feel good about yourself and play a small part in improving the lives of others whilst snacking, which surely cannot be a bad thing.
The Geobar range is created and owned by Traidcraft, the UK's leading fair trade organisation. The company has spent more than three decades seeking out and supporting marginalised farmers and artisans across the developing world and lobbying on behalf of the world's poorest countries.
As part of its work in Myanmar, Geobar is set to benefit from a Traidcraft world first which will see the first Fairtrade Marked exports of the country's rice. Traidcraft is working with farmers to support their business through improved farming practices and training, which will make them better equipped for the future and ultimately lead to the rice being used in Fairtrade products including the Geobar range.
Another example of the benefits is the use of Fairtrade honey, a vital ingredient in the Geobar range, which comes from both the Apicoop co-operative in Chile and CIPAC in Guatemala.
Over 15 years, the CIPAC co-operative has risen from 22 beekeepers to 132. With an average family size of five, the co-operative supports around 660 people. Sales of Fairtrade honey and coffee are impacting positively on the lives of farmers and their communities.
Amongst the Fairtrade benefits, farmers are able to invest in equipment such as beehives to get them set up and grow. A honey and coffee collection centre is making travel easier, whilst educational support has been provided for children in the community.
The more Geobars sold, the more honey will be needed, providing even more support to the families. Important work needed in the future includes improving the basic homes farmers and their families live in so they don't get damaged by the weather; new hoists and fork-lifts to assist heavy lifting and better educational support for children, including more jobs available closer to home.
I can't comment on the difference having not sampled the previous versions, but Geobars have been relaunched with refreshed packaging and a claim that the recipes have been revised in response to customer feedback resulting in them being less sweet and containing more fibre.
The new range includes chewy cereal bars in Wild Apricot, Mixed Berries and Chocolate flavours, all of which I was able to sample. All three varieties were tasty, although I found both the Wild Apricot and Mixed Berry slightly too sweet for my taste, despite the revisions to the recipe, with a lingering sweetness on the palate. They have a satisfyingly chewy texture but a lightness from the inclusion of crisped rice. My favourite is the Chocolate variety which has a deep cocoa flavour and is not at all cloying or sickly.
As a mid-morning snack they certainly seemed to fill the void between breakfast and lunch, which is not inconsiderable when you consider that breakfast is usually at 6.30am in our household. I polished off most of the bars myself but the children were also quite content to munch through them. However, I'd rather avoid giving the children sugar as much as possible and I think that there are more suitable alternatives.
Geobars are available in boxes of 5x35g and retail at £2 per box which is very competitive for bars of this type and I think represents good value for money. I would be happy to add Geobars to the shopping list based on taste and value for money alone, but the added bonus of buying an ethical product which has a positive impact on people's lives means that I will certainly be stocking up on the Chocolate variety. I may also explore some of the more interesting sounding varieties in the range which include fruity bars in Cocoa & Beetroot and Carrot & Stem Ginger.