After years of sustained growth in the United States, an Innova Market Insights report suggests that the $2-billion snack/cereal/energy bar sector is slowing down, akin perhaps, to so many consumers who purchase the bars.
In its analysis of the segment, Dutch-based Innova Database reports that snack/cereal/energy bar sales through supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers showed only slight growth in the first half of 2009, although nutrition and intrinsic health bars, including energy bars, performed better than breakfast bars and rice snack squares.
“Within the nutrition bars market, traditional-style energy bars are having to compete with a range of other health-oriented bars, not only those positioned on a general or multi-benefit platform, but also on a range of formats that are currently very much in vogue, including whole grain, high-fiber, weight management, digestive health, free-from and natural,” says Lu Ann Williams, head of research for Innova Market Insights.
She emphasizes that “With the high levels of product activity apparent in the bars market in recent years, it may be that saturation point is approaching, with market maturity and segmentation reaching a point where further innovation opportunities are going to be more limited, possibly causing further shakeouts in the market and creating an even more challenging environment”.
As a case in point, Kraft Foods recently sold its Balance Bar nutrition bar business to a private equity firm, saying its interests are currently focused in other areas.
Innova’s database shows that more than 1,600 cereal bars were launched in the first 11 months of 2009, up from the same period in 2008, but well down on the total of over 2,000 launched in the same period in 2007.