State of the Industry: Fuel-efficient bars
Our 2013 State of the Industry report explores market information for the bread aisle, sweet goods, cookies, bars, snack cakes, frozen baked goods, tortillas, pies and more.
The bar race is full of bakeries making gluten-free, high-fiber options in a variety of flavors to fuel consumers’ day-to-day lives.
Pull over, make a pit stop and fuel up. These days, gluten-free doesn’t need to mean energy-free, so bar manufacturers are creating products to meet this ever-growing market.
“Overall, the gluten-free market has exploded in the past few years to become a $4.2-billion industry,” states Pamela Giusto-Sorrells, president and founder of Pamela’s Products. “More than ever, consumers seek convenience and great taste in the gluten-free category, [and] Pamela’s on-the-go Whenever Bars satisfy the need for delicious options right off the shelf.”
The Ukiah, Calif., company has established itself as one of the go-to brands for gluten-free products. Its Whenever Bars are its first step into the bar segment. “These soft, chewy, whole-grain bars are packed with chia seeds, nuts and fruits and sweetened with coconut sugar and agave for a portable healthy snack that consumers can enjoy whenever,” adds Giusto-Sorrells.
Available in Oat Blueberry Lemon, Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut, Oat Cranberry Almond and Oat Raisin Walnut Spice, Whenever Bars also contain no artificial colors, flavors or additives.
“Gluten-free foods often get pinned as lacking in taste and texture, but we found that consumers prefer gluten-free treats that everyone in the family can enjoy, whether living with gluten allergies or not,” states Giusto-Sorrells. “As the snack bar and gluten-free categories grow rapidly, our Whenever Bars will also be sure to withstand the long race. Their great taste and convenience make Whenever Bars a great snack right at your fingertips.”
Gluten-free and all-natural seem to go hand-in-hand when it comes to the bakery segment. Silverland Bakery’s Natural Food Bars and Bakery Bars fulfill both of these categories. “At Silverland, we are taking a product that’s traditionally in the shelf-stable grocery aisle—our Natural Food Bars—to a more fresh presentation in the bakery, café or grab-and-go department,” states Leila Uslander, marketing director.
To help promote the products’ freshness, the Forest Park, Ill, company has launched a clamshell packaging design for all of its Bakery Bars and Natural Food Bars. “This more fresh presentation appeals to consumers who want a fresh, all-natural, homemade product ‘baked fresh around the corner,’ available to them,” says Uslander.
Silverland’s Natural Food Bars are made with fruits, nuts and a wide array of superfoods and natural enhancers. Options include Apricot (Defense), Cherry (Superfruit), Dark Chocolate Apricot (Revitalize), Flax (Protect), Mocha (Uplift), Oatmeal Raisin (Boost), Peanut Butter (Rebuild), Peanut Butter Flax (Repair), Pomegranate Pistachio (Passion) and Spiced Ginger (Detox).
“Silverland Natural Food Bars have a two-week ambient shelf life and taste great after a long, hot, exhausting race,” says Uslander. “They provide energy in the most natural way possible—through a blend of fruit and nuts that not only tastes great, but [provides] energy that lasts.”
Getting to the next lap
Whether people need energy for the long race or just to get to their next meal, Balance Bar is also creating new options for the gluten-free consumer. “Consumers expect more sophisticated tastes, exciting ingredients and different textures,” says Erin Lifeso, senior director of marketing. “Gluten-free products continue to be in high demand and serve the population with special dietary needs as well.”
The new Balance Bar Dark line came on the market at the beginning of the year and is available in Dark Chocolate Crunch, Dark Chocolate Coconut and Dark Chocolate Peanut. The Ronkonkoma, N.Y., company is hoping these new options will help the brand stand out on grocery store shelves.
“It’s a very crowded space and a confusing aisle at the supermarket or mass stores,” explains Lifeso. “But consumers prioritize taste above all, so we always challenge ourselves to create the best tasting bar that delivers lasting energy for today’s busy consumer, so they keep coming back to Balance Bar to try our wide array of flavors and products.”
Providing convenient nutrition and great taste for on-the-go consumers are priorities for Balance Bar, but delivering on lasting energy is also high on the list. “Like all NASCAR drivers, we are all about avoiding crashes as well,” says Lifeso. “All of our bars are crafted to provide long-lasting, balanced energy, not to create a sugar rush followed by a crash.”
Making a bar that’s low in sugar is also a priority for many manufacturers.
“Gluten-free, low-sugar and high-protein, along with non-genetically modified organisms (GMO) certification seem to be the key drivers of consumer interest and sales in the natural bar channel,” says Sarah Wallace, founder of Berkeley, Calif.-based The Good Bean. “We introduced The Good Bean Fruit and No Nut Bar, the first-ever snack bar to be made with roasted chickpeas instead of nuts.” The bars are available in Apricot Coconut, Fruit and Seeds Trail Mix and Chocolate Berry varieties.
“The greatest growth opportunity seems to be in getting moms, dieters and their kids to embrace lower-calorie, lower-fat alternatives to high-calorie nut bars,” says Wallace.
Getting the everyday shopper to embrace gluten- and nut-free products is one thing, but targeting athletes is another. Many athletes depend on nuts to provide valuable protein needed for a workout or the long race, but Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco headquarters thinks otherwise.
“I believe the biggest challenge is convincing the industry that a truly healthy product, even one that meets the health and dietary needs of vegetarians, nut-allergic/sensitive individuals and gluten-sensitive people can be great tasting and satisfying,” says Dr. Michael Wald, supervisor of nutrition.
The Mount Kisco, N.Y., company’s ZombieFoodBar was made for just that audience, along with those who participate in athletic events, zombie-themed or otherwise. The bar comes in a “zombie flavor,” which the company says has been described by tasters as a light chocolate bar with a hint of sesame. Ingredients include sunflower seed butter, agave nectar, rice protein, gluten-free crunchy rice cereal, unsweetened cocoa, goji berries, chia seeds, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla extract, barley grass juice powder, spirulina powder, chlorella powder, Stevia and other organic flavors.
“The ZombieFoodBar is not overly filling and simply good for practically everyone,” says Wald. “A quick source of balanced nutrition from healthy sources of protein, carbs and fats is ideal for endurance sporting events.”
Athletes are consistently the target audience for energy and nutrition bars. Mars Chocolate North America, Hackettstown, N.J., has long been the manufacturer for MARATHON bars, but is reaching out beyond the sporty segment.
“At MARATHON Brand, we are focused on energy and protein bars that expand beyond the athletic community, since one of the fastest-growing consumer segments are the ‘daily performers’— everyday people trying to keep active in enjoyable ways,” says Tim Quinn, vice president of trade development.
MARATHON bars come in four energy-bar offerings: Chewy Chocolatey Peanut; Chewy Peanut Butter; Crunchy Dark Chocolate; and Crunchy Multi-grain and two protein bar varieties: Caramel Nut Rush; and Chocolatey Nut Burst.
“Every MARATHON Bar is packed with protein and essential vitamins that are important for the everyday athletes who juggle busy schedules and fit workouts into their already active lives,” states Quinn.
Even if people aren’t squeezing a workout into their busy lives, they’re still in need of a delicious, quick snack to keep energy high. KIND Healthy Snacks, New York, creates a line of nut-based bars that are a fit for the everyday snacker.
“More and more, today’s consumers are voicing a demand for lower sugar snacking options that are convenient, healthy and tasty, too,” says Marc de Grandpre, senior vice president of marketing. “The majority of our consumers choose KIND as a healthy option for all snacking occasions; however, there are many who often turn to our bars for a seemingly indulgent treat and as a healthier alternative to sugar-loaded candy bars and other desserts.”
Creating tasty and functional flavors is KIND’s basis for business. The company offers three different lines of bars—Fruit and Nut, PLUS and Nuts and Spices. This month, KIND is unveiling its two newest options to the Nuts and Spices line, Dark Chocolate Chili Almond and Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt. Other varieties in the Nuts and Spices line include Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt, Madagascar Vanilla Almond, Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan and Cashew and Ginger Spice.
“At KIND, we plan to continue to stand out through our commitment to sourcing the highest quality ingredients that you can see and pronounce,” says de Grandpre. “We will also continue to challenge false compromises by replacing the word ‘or’ with the word ‘and,’ which has allowed us to bring together ideas that might not otherwise seem possible. We believe you can have a product that is healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome, and economically sustainable and socially impactful.”
Natural, gluten-free products are a big part of the bar segment, but fiber is slowly creeping in as a secondary trend. Kellogg Snacks, Battle Creek, Mich., is one company hopping on this trend.
“Our most recent innovations also offer more nutrient options from our popular brands,” says Mary Busch, director of brand marketing. “For example, many people are seeking positive nutrition from their snacks, particularly protein and fiber. To satisfy this need, Kellogg debuts FiberPlus Antioxidant Protein Chewy bars, available in Mixed Nut and Peanut.”
The bars contain 10 g. of protein and 7 g. of fiber per serving. Joining the FiberPlus bars, Kellogg also introduced new Nutri-Grain Fruit Crunch Bars in Apple Cobbler and Strawberry Parfait. These bars offer 20 g. of whole grain per serving.
Another big brand jumping on the fiber bandwagon is General Mills, Minneapolis.
“We introduced Fiber One Protein Caramel Nut and Fiber One Protein Coconut Almond in January 2013,” states Katherine Zonino, associate marketing manager. “Fiber One Protein Bars have 20% of the daily value of fiber, with at least 6 g. of protein in a delicious 130-140 calorie bar.”
General Mills recognizes that consumers want to eat healthier, but it can be difficult to find smart snacks that taste great. “Fiber One Protein Bars truly satisfy; they deliver the taste you crave, but with the nutritional benefits of fiber and protein, making it easier to stay on track,” says Zonino.
Gluten-free, natural and healthful are the top trends when it comes to bars. Manufacturers are making sure to give consumers the energy they need for the long race in easy, pitstop-sized portions in the flavors they crave.