Bariatrix Nutrition is in a guaranteed growth market—as long as the world’s waistlines keep expanding.
The Lachine, Que.-based company develops and manufactures protein-rich foods and supplements for medically monitored weight-loss diets. “And the market for our products is, unfortunately, an ever-growing one,” says founder and CEO Roderick Egger.
Since the company was founded in 2004, Bariatrix’s sales have grown from $10 million to more than $75 million. The secret ingredient, Egger says, has been good science: “We maintain a close relationship with the scientific community and with doctors who are involved in clinical research and looking for the best obesity therapies.” Bariatrix has an R&D team of 15 employees who are constantly developing nutrient-dense products.
“Since we began, our main challenge has been expanding quickly enough to keep up with demand,” says COO Toni Poliderakis. In 2009, Bariatrix opened a manufacturing facility in Vermont. In 2013, Canadian public-sector pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec provided $12.9 million to help Bariatrix’s expansion efforts, which included building a new 55,000-sq.-foot facility in 2016, also in Vermont.
Roughly half of Bariatrix’s sales are protein bars, followed by powdered drinks, protein-enriched powdered shakes, puddings, soy snacks and more. But you won’t see the Bariatrix brand on store shelves. The products are sold exclusively to bariatric physicians, nutritionists and dieticians who treat obesity in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
When Egger founded Bariatrix, he actually returned a four-generation family business to its roots. Egger’s great-grandfather ran a pharmacy in 19th-century Vienna. Egger’s grandfather brought the business to Canada, leaving Europe in 1949 to open a pharmaceutical manufacturing business in Montreal that catered specifically to the new market for weight loss products. Egger’s father then focused the business on producing protein bars—in 1991, he obtained the world’s first patent for a protein bar.
“By the early 2000s, we had grown to a 260,000-sq.-foot facility with 600 employees producing up to three million protein bars a day,” says Egger, who joined the family business in 1987 after completing a degree in chemistry.
In 2003, the family decided to sell the protein bar operation and start again with a different focus. “I wanted to get back to the origins of Bariatrix,” says Egger. “So I did a complete reset in 2004 and moved away from protein bars to make products strictly for the bariatric market.” The company now has 215 employees.
Egger says the company is all about dietary health, as opposed to losing weight. “It’s not the product that helps weight loss,” says Egger. “Our products don’t necessarily have fewer calories. They have more nutrition. And they taste good.”