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Food Bars Growing Fast

Food Bars Growing Fast

Food bars have experienced double-digit sales growth, with most of it coming from the energy/nutrition bar category.

Sales of food bars are surging, recently posting double-digit growth rates, making this a dynamic product category for onsite operators. The combined breakfast/cereal/snack bars and energy/nutrition bar retail market approached $5.7 billion in 2011, according to a new Packaged Facts report, Food Bars in the U.S.: Trends in Cereal/Granola Bars and Energy/Nutrition Bars.

Among other reasons for this growth are the many new products being launched, better marketing to specific consumer groups and innovation in the bars themselves. Eating trends (the blurring of meals and snacks and more spur-of-the-moment eating) have also contributed.

Most of the growth has been in the energy/nutrition bar category—an “expanding and diverse array of bars and other snacks that are perceived as healthier,” according to the report—while the cereal bar and granola bar segment has seen only modest growth since 2007.

Energy/nutrition bars include functional food bars and sports bars defined as supplemental bars, and often contain high-energy ingredients. They are targeted at people who want quick energy but don’t have time for a proper meal. According to the report, cereal bars are moving in this direction now, too, with new bars tending to have less calories and offer healthier ingredient profiles. Cereal bar makers are also targeting consumers who want smaller portioned ‘treats’ and more of an energy boost for workouts or even a meal replacement.

Meanwhile, granola bars have benefitted from consumer enthusiasm for “real foods” with shorter, more recognizable lists of ingredients. More now also feature all-natural and organic ingredients, superfruits or added fiber.

Top demographics for cereal/granola bars are people with kids under age 6 and those ages 25-34. Typically, consumers of energy/nutrition bars are aware of—and seeking—particular nutritional ingredients when they select a product.

Soy protein is falling out of favor in all bars, and coconut oil is gaining popularity, with research proving that it’s a healthy oil. Look for protein and fiber to continue being packed in bars, with many seeking to reduce the sugar content (most energy/nutrition bars tend to be very high in sugar, an average of 15 to 20 grams of sugar per 2.0 ounces—a real drawback to many consumers).

The full Packaged Facts report also evaluates this category’s retail dynamics, offers competitive profiles of nearly a dozen primary manufacturers and provides detailed discussion of new product ingredient profiles as well as typical consumer demographics. For more information about Packaged Facts’ report on food bars, please call 240.747.3071 or see

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