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Canadian entrepreneurs bite into bone broth trend

Kelowna-based Boned Broth aims to have Canadians sipping on more stock

Two Canadian food entrepreneurs are hoping to hit it big with a new twist on an old product.

Christian Bix and Shane Whittle say they're having a tough time keeping the shelves of some two dozen grocers across Western Canada stocked with the hand-filled containers of their homemade Boned Broth.

And they say the problem will only get worse (not that they're complaining) when they start shipping to stores in Central and Eastern Canada later this month.

"We're working like crazy," Whittle said. "But it's a price we're happy to pay to make a new functional beverage for consumers."

The duo make batches of broth using two 700-litre kettles in the commercial kitchen of their start-up venture's partner, Vancouver celebrity chef Vikram Vij.

Made using what they call ethically-raised, grass-fed B.C. beef and free-range chicken bones that are boiled for up to 15 hours with herbs and spices according to a centuries-old Slovakian recipe provided by Bix's mother in law, the beef and chicken broths respectively deliver 57 and 10 grams of collagen protein per container.

The 500-ml microwaveable containers carry a suggested retail price of $9.99.

They are currently sold at Whole Foods, Choices Markets, Overwaitea-owned Urban Fare, and independent health-food stores in B.C., the three Prairie provinces and the Yukon.

A deal with UNFI, a distributor of natural, organic, kosher, specialty and ethnic foods, will soon land the product on store shelves in the rest of Canada.

According to Bix, a chiropractor with a clinic in Kelowna, B.C., the high-grade protein and other nutrients contained in bone marrow provide many health benefits for people of all stripes–from arthritic seniors to elite athletes like basketball star Kobe Bryant, one of many celebrities who has lauded the recuperative powers of bone broth since it began registering as a trendy food item in California and New York in 2014.

"I was skeptical when Shane and I first started looking into a year ago," recalled Bix.  "But we found a lot of concrete evidence about the benefits, and we decided to dive in and bring this product to as many people as possible."

Bone broth has been around since humans learned to boil water. But it was Bix and Whittle's passion for their creation that attracted Vij, the chef, to get involved.

"Their vision and approach matched my philosophy, which is to make real food for real people," the former member of CBC's Dragon's Den told Canadian Grocer from one of his restaurants in Vancouver.  "When it comes to food, I let nature show the path."

Vij bristled when asked if he thought people would be willing to pay $10 for a container of bone broth when they can buy a package of dried concentrate for a fraction of the price in grocery stores.

"Who is to determine how much is too much?" he asked rhetorically.  "If it delivers the medicinal value it promises, provides that comfort, then price is not important."

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