1/3 of Protein Bars Have as Much Fat as a Krispy Kreme Donut

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Has the New Year, New You health and wellness trend hit you this year? How many protein shakes, protein bars and workouts are you taking in? Well, if you love the taste of your favorite protein bar, you might want to look at the label a little closer. Protectivity, a U.K. based health, sports, and travel specialists revealed in new research that more than 33% of all protein bars have more saturated fat than a Krispy Kreme donut.

How Protectivity Analyzed 56 Protein Bars

Protectivity created a fitness food index to help people look at the protein, carbohydrate, sugar, and fat content to look at a variety of products including protein bards. The index shows that protein bars often contain large amounts of sugar and fat. They found that 10 of the 56 bars analyzed contained more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut.

Nutritional shakes and bars have been one of the most active markets over the past five years. From 2010 to 2015, the category grew at 10% year over year. In 2016, the market reached over $9 billion in sales around the world. It’s safe to say that these formulas of high fat and sugar content will not last long as protein bars have typically been seen as part of the clean eating trend.

Large CPG Companies Acquiring the Nimbler Bar Brands

It’s evident that the smaller brands are catching the eye of the giant CPG companies. These brands have already created formulas that meet consumer needs with low sugar, low fat, and great taste. Big CPG sees no reason to reinvent the wheel and instead believes the acquisition is the best way to gain market share. Last November, Mars took a minority stake in KIND bar. Kellogg acquired RXBAR to grow its clean label protein bar offerings for over $600 million in 2017. The nutritional bar market is hot, and we expect more acquisitions in this area in 2018.

Consumers Must Recognize Protein Bars as a Meal Replacement, Not a Snack

Brands must educate consumers on protein bars and nutritional products. Many of these products are not formulated to be eaten as a casual snack but as a meal replacement or a post-workout fuel. Brands should be concerned about the high levels of fat and sugar because if consumers don’t see results, they will switch to another favorite food solution. 2018 and 2019 should be the years that these brand focus on adding healthier ingredients and formulating these bars to be more reliable nutritional products for consumers.

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Functional Ingredients and Label Claims Continue to Lure Consumers

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According to the latest numbers from Packaged Facts market research, 49% of all U.S. consumers buy nutritional bars, beverages, or both. Food and beverage products using functional ingredients with functions like nutritional support, weight loss, increased energy, and meal replacement were included in their analysis. However, energy drinks, sports drinks, milkshakes, granola bars, and snack bars with no nutritional purpose were excluded from their analysis. The Packaged Facts’ National Online Survey consisted of 2,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and over.

Convenience is Key to Category Growth

Brands have been positioning their nutritional drinks and bars as convenient, healthy, on-the-go options for the busy American. As a result, sales have skyrocketed over the past five years. The market has hit $8.8 billion in 2016 with an annual growth rate of 9.5% over the past five years. Packaged Facts predicts a bullish future for the two categories with combined sales reaching $13.1 billion by 2021.

Younger generations are key purchasers with highest use rates. Many of the Millennials and Gen-Xers see being busy as a “badge of honor” so these products are essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Packaged Facts found that 57% of all U.S. consumers are drinking nutritional beverages as a meal replacement.

Functional Ingredients: Superfoods and Protein


Functional ingredients are booming, and nutritional drinks and bars are using them to enter the market with a unique value proposition. The barriers to entry are low, but gaining significant market share is a different story. High protein content is expected from consumers at this point with 72% saying they look for that feature when purchasing nutritional drinks.

Some nutritional bars and drinks are turning to innovative superfood solutions to increase nutrient support claims. Brands are using products like GrandFusion to enhance their bars and drinks with natural vitamins from up to twelve fruits and vegetables without impacting flavor or texture. Interested in learning more? Click your industry in the navigation and learn more about how GrandFusion could benefit your products.

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Healthy Snack Bars Driving Category Sales

The healthy snack bar category grew by 2.08% from 2016 to 2017. This equated to $6 billion of sales in all snack bar categories. The growth of the snack bar industry is attributed to manufacturers offering a broad range of products to cater to the needs of different consumers.

According to culinary scientist Kyle Stuart, snack bars that feature all-natural ingredients are becoming too generic, and they fail to differentiate with customers these days. Consumers no longer want labels saying “all-natural” on their products. They want more specifications, so niche differentiation is a dominating trend in the snack bar market right now. This is the reason why snack bars are categorized depending on their purpose – energy provision, weight loss, meal replacement, snack, and so on.

Niche Differentiation Is Evident In The Snack Bar Industry

Niche differentiation of snack bars has resulted in category differentiation. There are now snack bars intended for daytime and evening consumption as well as those formulated with diet restrictions such as gluten-free, vegan, paleo, sugar-free, and much more.

The reason for niche differentiation is attributed to the growing needs of different consumers. For instance, some consumers buy a particular brand of snack bar because they opt for clean-label offerings while others buy because the ingredients used are simple and better for them.

Clean labeling is an important trend in the snack bar industry as many consumers value transparency. According to Carol Lowry, a senior food scientist at Cargill, product transparency is one of the biggest challenges food manufacturers, in general, are facing today. How can companies innovate while still using simple ingredients? It is something that’s hard to do especially if companies are after mass producing products that have longer shelf-lives.

Food Companies Are Starting To Innovate

Although challenging, this has presented an avenue for food manufacturers to explore and discover interesting combinations. For instance, the National Honey Board is now using natural sweeteners such as honey to make their breakfast biscuits and other products. Lowry and Cargill are looking into the use of vegetables and spices to provide savory flavors on their products instead of using artificial ingredients.

Food manufacturers are also looking into fortifying their products by using plant-based proteins sourced from beans, lentils, soy, nuts and many others. Food manufacturers see the need to incorporate such ingredients to their products to improve the nutrition profile and value of their snack bars.

And since it has been a long-standing issue that using clean ingredients produces products with lower shelf-life, food manufacturers are now using natural antioxidants like tocopherols instead of artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life of their products.

The Future Of The Snack Bar Category

The production of different kinds of snack bars has led to increased category innovation. While innovation involving the nutrition profile is the primary trend today, food scientists explain that there will be more changes in the future to improve the selling point of snack bars. Such innovations will tackle the texture and calorie count of products. Until then, consumers have a lot of things to look forward to when it comes to the snack bar industry.

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