The keys to developing a team of bars include a knowledgeable staff, yummy ingredients and a packaging concept that screams “pick me, pick me.” But when it comes to creating a portfolio of winning products, the minor league attributes simply don’t cut it.
That’s why many of today’s bar producers are formulating a lineup that’s sure to score some major league-style points.
Nutrition meets functionality
“To be a most valuable player (MVP) in their respective industries, companies need to be innovators,” says Michelle Ferguson, executive vice president of marketing for Clif Bar & Co. “In our case, that means never being satisfied, and making a variety of delicious offerings for consumers’ changing taste buds. Not only that, but making that food in a way that is respectful of the communities and the planet.”
That’s why the Emeryville, Calif.-based company started the year off with a series of home-run product introductions. This summer, consumers can enjoy a cool lakeside breeze while munching on a CLIF Bar Coconut Chocolate Chip bar. This 70%- organic energy bar combines coconut with chocolate chips for a unique flavor profile, Ferguson says. Meanwhile, CLIF CRUNCH, the 70%-organic crunchy granola bar, now comes in Blueberry Crisp and Chocolate Peanut Butter options. Blueberry Crisp delivers bursts of blueberry in every bite, while Chocolate Peanut Butter features peanut butter and chocolate chips along with a topping of peanut butter drizzle.
In the CLIF MOJO brand, there are three new types of sweet and salty trail mix bars made with 70%-organic ingredients. The Chocolate Almond Coconut option, for instance, blends toasted coconut, chocolate chunks and salty whole roasted almonds, while the White Chocolate Macadamia one combines freshly roasted macadamia nuts with richly-flavored soy white chocolate chips. Dipped S’Mores is a healthy take on a classic campfire favorite, featuring crunchy graham cookies, creamy soy white chocolate and organic chocolate chunks.
Clif Bar & Co. also tweaked the recipes of two existing CLIF Bar varieties. Apricot now features 50% more organic apricots and fused with lemon juice concentrate, whereas the Peanut Toffee Buzz maintains a new type of toffee and more peanuts and peanut butter. CLIF Bar’s seasonal flavors will be joined by Peppermint Stick, a classic holiday flavor brought to life with a natural version of peppermint candy.
For the nutrition bar category, research shows that consumers want “purposeful enjoyment,” according to Tim Quinn, vice president of sales development for Mars Chocolate North America, Hackettstown, N.J. “Flavor fatigue is common within the energy/nutrition bar category, so consumers develop a range of flavor choices that deliver the appropriate levels of nutrition,” he adds.
That’s why Mars launched Marathon SMART STUFF bars, a healthful snacking option that provides balanced nutrition for active minds and bodies. Its nutritional content is designed specifically with teens in mind, Quinn says, and meets the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Guidelines, New York, for competitive foods/snacks. Marathon SMART STUFF bars are made with wholesome ingredients, such as blueberries, cranberries and peanuts, are fortified with a blend of eight essential vitamins and minerals, are an excellent source of calcium and contain 3-5 g. of fiber per serving. They come in Crunchy Multi Grain, Crunchy Chocolate Crisp, Crunchy Honey Graham and Crunchy Trail Mix varieties.
In the snack bar segment, Mars unveiled a team of KUDOS granola bars that are created with noteworthy candy confections—KUDOS with SNICKERS, KUDOS with M&M’s milk chocolate candies and KUDOS with DOVE chocolate drizzle.
“The keys to delivering a winning product team are expanding distribution to reach ‘daily performers’ in a variety of outlets and making it even easier to fit into their on-the-go lifestyles,” Quinn says. “We know more and more moms are buying packages to be shared among the whole family, so our offerings will give moms the nutrition they want and the variety their families will love to eat.”
Furthermore, Journey Bars are 100%- natural, savory-flavored “travel” bars that combine the nutrition of organic whole grains with real-food flavors, says Chris Kerslake, founder of Chicago-based Journey Bar.
For instance, the Italy-inspired Parmesan Romano variety contains oats, flaxseed, amaranth and millet mixed with Parmesan and Romano cheese and Italian spices, whereas the Thailand-inspired Coconut Curry kind blends a host of curry flavors to deliver a soft, but firm texture.
The key to producing a winning product is “identifying a need/hole in the market, and convincing potential customers that your product fills it,” says Chris Kerslake, founder of Chicago-based Journey Bar.