The latest food bar trends include mini bars,
seasonal flavors, new ingredients from
macadamia to chia, and natural, healthful options.
More food bar options than ever are appearing on supermarket shelves. Fitting with recent trends, many brands are offering raw and natural options instead of highly processed, protein-packed products. “We see a general shift away from protein-heavy and low-carbohydrate bars to bars that contain all-natural ingredients,” says Phil Walotsky, PeaceWorks Holdings LLC, New York.
Two trendy ingredients this fall include macadamia nut and chia seed. “Macadamias provide a mix of crunchiness, texture and flavor while still being a relatively healthy variety of nut,” Walotsky says. “Our Mango Macadamia flavor from our new KIND Plus line recently won ‘Best New Product’ in the food category at Natural Products Expo East in Boston, which speaks to how well they work in combination with other ingredients.” Berkeley, Calif.-based Clif Bar and Co. also is incorporating macadamia nuts in its products, having just launched white chocolate macadamia bars in both its Luna and Clif Bar lines. The new flavor will be available at select retailers in January.
Anyone who watched television in the 1980s might remember chia seed from the popular ChiaPet™ commercials that featured clay animals sprouting chia grass hair. Well, chia seed is back in the limelight, but this time for its nutritional attributes. Chia was one of the four main foods of the Aztecs, along with corn, amaranth and beans. Chia seed contains one of the highest known natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, is low in sodium, high in protein, lipids, fiber and antioxidants, and has fewer carbohydrates than most grains, according to Chia Farms, Sonoita, Ariz. Bar companies, including Balance Bar Co., are including chia seed in products.
Other trends include mini bars for portion-conscious consumers. Clif Bar and Co. offers 0.7-oz. mini Luna bars with only 80 calories, and 1-oz. Clif Bars. The mini bars were Luna's number one request from consumers. Seasonal flavors also are popular. Clif offers Clif Bar fall/winter flavors, such as pear-apple strudel, spiced pumpkin and iced gingerbread, as well as a special Halloween flavor called Spooky S'mores under its children's organic ZBar line. Food bar lines geared toward children are continuing to appear to help parents provide nutritional options children will eat.
Today's economic conditions also are playing a role in consumer activity. “Consumers are paying more attention to what they're buying as a result of the economic slowdown. We expect the most noticeable impact in the nutrition bar category will be increased loyalty to distinctive brands consumers know are enjoyable instead of experimenting,” Walotsky says.
Sustainability also is increasingly important to food bar consumers. Catering to demand, Clif Bar and Co. is introducing a new package that is user- and planet-friendly for its Clif Shot Bloks® sports energy chew line. The new Shot Blocks Fastpak™ wraps six energy chews in a compact stack, easily opened with one hand. Thirty-three percent smaller than previous packaging, it is easier to carry and friendlier to the environment.
Whey protein is delivering nutrition to many food bars. “Given their functionality, clean label and neutral taste, whey ingredients have become a value-added component in the formulation of food/nutrition bars,” says Kara McDonald, director, ingredient marketing and communications, Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill. For example, Detour® protein bars use whey protein to deliver 30 percent to 60 percent of the required protein daily value (DV). Supreme Protein® bars are powered by whey isolate and contain 30 g of protein per bar. A combination of dairy proteins often are used in higher protein bars. U-Turn® bars contain a Designer Whey® patented blend of whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein, totaling 30 g of whey protein, and providing 60 percent of the DV. “The mild flavor of whey protein ingredients makes them compatible with a wide variety of flavors,” McDonald adds.
A study done by Kerry Ingredients and Flavours, Beloit, Wis., in spring 2008 used an online survey to poll a national sample of weight management (WM) and energy/performance (EP) food bar consumers. A total of 441 respondents consumed at least one WM or EP bar in the past 30 days. Of those, 226 preferred WM food bars, while 215 preferred EP food bars. Results showed the group that preferred WM food bars consisted of 81 percent women and 71 percent were younger than 45 years of age, while the group that preferred EP bars contained 56 percent men, and 86 percent were younger than 45 years of age.
Six of 10 respondents consumed food bars most often for snacks, while the others consumed food bars for meals.
Fifty-five percent of the WM group consumed food bars for breakfast, while only 37 percent of the EP group did.
Dietary fiber was extremely important to 57 percent of respondents, and 68 percent expected the perfect snack to provide 20 percent or more of the DV of dietary fiber per serving.
About 70 percent of respondents expected the perfect snack to provide 20 percent or more of the DV of protein per serving.
Sixty percent of WM consumers would limit calories to 125 or lower compared with 37 percent of EP consumers.
Twenty-one percent of EP consumers said food bar calories were not an issue compared to 7 percent of the WM group.
Two-thirds of respondents preferred a snack with less than 6 g of fat per serving, and 63 percent preferred less than 10 g of sugar.
Ninety-seven percent of respondents said if they could buy the perfect snack they would consume it at least weekly. The WM group indicated a likelihood to consume the perfect snack more often (a few times per week) compared to the EP group.
While different groups are seeking alternate qualities in their food bars, nutritional qualities and flavor are important to all. “We've found consumers value delicious taste first, and the high quality and wholesomeness of our bars second, ” Walotsky says. “If you can create a bar that tastes great and uses all-natural, high-quality, healthy ingredients, you're going to have a successful product.”
|Health Value Bars Brand Names||Dollar Sales||% Change Year Ago|
|Zone Perfect||29.6||↓ 4.1|
|Clif Luna||28.5||↑ 0.1|
|Kelloggs Special K||24.5||↑ 46.3|
|Power Bar||19.3||↓ 2.0|
|Slim Fast||17.2||↓ 9.7|
|Power Bar Protein Plus||12.8||↑ 4.9|
|Pure Protein||12.3||↑ 8.0|
|Kraft South Beach||11.9||↓ 17.0|
|Health Value Bars Brand Names||Unit Sales||% Change Year Ago|
|Clif Luna||23.3||↑ 2.7|
|Zone Perfect||17.3||↓ 7.3|
|Power Bar||14.3||↓ 5.6|
|Pure Protein||9.3||↑ 6.7|
|Kelloggs Special K||7.0||↑ 15.6|
|Power Bar Protein Plus||6.0||↓ 3.1|
|Kraft South Beach||4.1||↓ 28.3|
|Slim Fast||4.0||↓ 15.2|
|Fresh Bakery Products||52 weeks ended Oct. 5: $ Sales||% Change Prior Year||52 weeks ended Oct. 5: Unit Sales||% Change Prior Year|
|Bread||$6,600,822,000||↑ 5.6%||3,059,586,200||↓ 4.3%|
|Cookies||3,591,890,800||↓ 11.2||1,524,735,900||↓ 15.3|
|Crackers||3,640,837,000||↑ 4.1||1,472,247,000||↓ 1.1|
|Rolls/Buns/Croissants||2,228,994,000||↑ 7.6||1,180,881,000||↓ 2.7|
|Cupcakes/Brownies||928,218,600||↓ 1.9||510,741,200||↓ 6.1|
|Pastry/Danish/Coffeecake||650,783,400||↑ 0.1||282,974,800||↓ 1.7|
|Donuts||630,309,600||↓ 2.8||250,357,800||↓ 6.7|
|English Muffins||540,950,800||↑ 8.2||220,156,300||↑ 1.4|
|Bagels/Bialys||528,829,800||↑ 8.0||178,188,300||↑ 0.3|
|Muffins||331,520,900||↑ 12.4||104,174,400||↑ 4.9|
|Pies (excl Snack Pies)||205,392,000||↓ 4.3||44,146,730||↓ 10.9|
|Cakes (excl snack coffee)||49,451,300||↑ 0.5||132,660,300||↓ 2.3|
|Frozen Bakery Products||52 weeks ended Oct. 5: $ Sales||% Change Prior Year||52 weeks ended Oct. 5: Unit Sales||% Change Prior Year|
|Bread/Biscuits/Pastry Dough||$542,677,200||↑ 6.6%||211,655,500||↑ 3.1%|
|Pies||342,920,900||↓ 2.2||84,219,420||↓ 7.1|
|Sweetgoods (excl. cheesecake)||211,909,600||↑ 3.6||57,716,550||↑ 3.2|
|Breads/Rolls/Pastry Dough||119,020,200||↑ 4.9||40,300,350||↓ 1.1|
|Pies/Pastry Shells||115,646,800||↑ 1.5||50,365,960||↓ 4.6|
|Cheesecakes||72,367,210||↓ 1.2||13,857,560||↓ 5.3|
|Bagels||61,323,620||↑ 31.6||37,485,000||↑ 6.1|
|Muffins||21,015,170||↑ 170.8||6,765,041||↑ 246.2|
|Cookie Dough||5,388,567||↑ 67.8||1,394,072||↑ 95.5|
|Cookies||105,349||↑ 7.9||32,940||↑ 4.8|
|Refrigerated Bakery Products||52 weeks ended Oct. 5: $ Sales||% Change Prior Year||52 weeks ended Oct. 5: Unit Sales||% Change Prior Year|
|Cookie/Brownie Dough||$385,030,400||↓ 3.9%||136,001,000||↓ 5.4%|
|Biscuit Dough||360,097,200||↑ 0.1||290,551,400||↓ 2.6|
|Pastry/Dumpling Dough||209,330,800||↑ 5.7||134,340,800||↑ 2.5|
|Bread/Rolls/Bun Dough||259,744,000||↑ 2.4||128,214,300||↓ 1.3|
|Cakes (excluding Snack/Coffee)||71,965,850||↓ 1.7||9,178,240||↓ 4.9|
|Bagels/Bialys||56,779,490||↑ 5.3||38,853,470||↓ 4.7|
|English Muffins||36,296,400||↑ 6.1||18,903,680||↑ 2.1|
|Pies (excluding Snack Pies)||22,157,720||↓ 18.5||4,154,646||↓ 21.3|
|Snack Cakes/Donuts||8,762,233||↑ 11.5||2,018,438||↑ 6.1|
|Pastry/Danish/Coffeecakes||6,752,165||↑ 20.6||1,755,694||↑ 6.2|
|Bread||3,757,006||↑ 1.8||1,308,033||↓ 6.6|
|Dinner Rolls/Croissants||1,449,051||↑ 8.6||684,160||↑ 4.3|
|Muffins||84,789||↑ 65.8||18,655||↑ 74.7|
Source: Information Resources Inc. statistics for the 52-week period ended Oct. 5, 2008