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US Nutrition Bar Market Trends for 2020

The $9.6 billion1 U.S. bar market continues to evolve, reflecting changes in consumer demographics, snacking habits, and interests in health and nutrition. Here’s a look at what manufacturers need to know—including the top trends in nutritional bars, the most popular types of bars, and what's driving consumers to choose bars.

Why Consumers Are Choosing Bars

According to Mintel’s 2019 report “Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bars,”2 the primary reasons adults are consuming bars are to snack and to satisfy hunger. Additional drivers include the desire to replace junk food, to have a treat, and to satisfy a sweet tooth. Mintel also reports that just over half of those consuming bars are under the age of forty-five, indicating a strong convenience motivation.

The rise of snackification alongside the growing consumer interest in health and wellness has made bars a popular, go-to product for many consumers. Bars offer not only portable, ready-to-eat convenience, but also a high level of personalization that can range from a vitamin-fortified kids’ snack to a high-performance sports nutrition formula.

The Most Popular Types of Bars

Since bars have the potential to meet such a variety of consumers’ needs, it can be useful for manufacturers to look at which segments within the category are doing particularly well. According to Mintel, the most popular type of bars, in order, are:

  1. Snack bars
  2. Meal replacement bars
  3. Nutrition bars
  4. Performance bars
  5. Weight-loss bars

Snack bars are currently the most popular by far as they address a top need in the general population for convenient snacking options. The other types of bars are nutrition-focused and address the needs of specific consumer segments. Increasingly, however, consumers choosing bars simply as a convenient snack are reaching for these nutrition-focused bars as a better-for-you option—especially nutritional bars fortified with important nutrients like protein and fiber.
 

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Top Nutrition Trends in Bars

To understand how to best meet consumers’ needs going forward, manufacturers must also keep up with the latest trends in the category. Here’s a peek at the top nutrition trends in bars for this year:

High Protein

Protein reigns as the top in-demand ingredient for nutritional bars. Bars containing at least 20 percent DV of protein (i.e., “high protein”) showed the highest year-over-year growth at 8 percent, followed by bars with 10-19 percent DV of protein (i.e., “good source of protein”) at 6 percent.3 Nutritional bars with less than 10 percent DV of protein posted negative growth,4 indicating protein has expanded beyond sports nutrition and is now a mainstream expectation.

High Fiber

High fiber is also on the rise in bars. The IFIC Foundation’s “2019 Food & Health Survey5 found fiber to be the top nutrient consumers are trying to consume in larger quantity. Fiber is especially valued in weight-loss and meal replacement bars due to its satiety benefits. A growing interest in digestive health also plays a role in this increasing demand for fiber.

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Plant Protein

Protein diversity in bars is rapidly expanding, particularly among plant-based proteins. Protein sources such as pea, flax, chia, and sunflower are increasingly being used in new products. The IFIC Foundation reports that one-third of American adults consume plant-based protein daily, and one-quarter are consuming more than they did the prior year.

Healthy Kids' Bars

Another trend in bars touching on nutrition is the recent proliferation of healthier kids’ bars. These nutritional bars come in kid-friendly flavors and typically contain protein, fiber, whole grains, and superfoods, along with added vitamins and minerals. Clean label, non-GMO ingredients are the norm, and some are also free of gluten and added sugars.

Other Bar Trends

Another trend to watch is the continued expansion of refrigerated bars. While these appeal to health-conscious consumers who shop the grocery store perimeter, the real benefit of refrigerated bars is their fresh, vibrant taste. Wafer bars are also heating up, adding new texture appeal to the bar category and providing a snackfection option. In addition, the demand for real food ingredients (i.e., clean label) continues to reshape the category.

Raising the Bar

Want to learn more about creating the best nutritional bars for your consumers? Contact Glanbia Nutritionals for all your sports nutrition ingredients—including plant proteins, vitamins, minerals, and more!


References

1. SPINS Scan Data. (2019). 52 weeks ending June 16, 2019 and Glanbia internal estimates.
2. Mintel. (2019). Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bars – US – February 2019. Retrieved from https://reports.mintel.com/display/919344/
3-4. SPINS Scan Data. (2019). 52 weeks ending June 16, 2019 and Glanbia internal estimates.
5. International Food Information Council Foundation. (2019). 2019 Food & Health Survey. Retrieved from https://foodinsight.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/IFIC-Foundation-2019-Food-and-Health-Report-FINAL.pdf