The snack bar category in recent years has catered for many different eating occasions. These range from indulgent and comforting snacks to functional, portable and healthy nutrition products, with many blurred variants in between. And as consumers develop a more holistic approach to health, natural, vegan and free-from formulations have continued to grow in popularity.
Vegan pea protein in the spotlight
As the buzz around plant-based diets grows, protein bar brands need to cater to a wider range of dietary preferences. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and health imperatives that support diets high in plant-based foods. This has particularly impacted the snack bar category, with global launches of vegan snack bars doubling over the past five years, from 11% of all snack bar launches in 2013 to 20% in 2017, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database. Leading markets for launches of vegan snack bars are predominantly in Europe, notably Germany, where a staggering 43% of snack bars launched in 2017 were vegan. However, soy protein (the leading source of plant protein) is considered a divisive ingredient. Often genetically modified, it’s avoided by as many as 17% of UK consumers. As a result, snack bar brands will increasingly need to review how to formulate products that are both vegan-friendly and clean label. Pea protein is emerging as a hero alternative to soy, with brands now visibly calling out the use of pea protein on packaging.
PaPicante Mediterranean Pea Protein Bar with Tomato, Basil and Pine Nuts, Germany
Presence of 'pea protein crisps' given prominence on front of pack in this savoury snack bar from Germany.
inSpiral Visionary Products Organic Banana Go-Go Protein Clusters with Live Cultures, UK
The plant-based, gluten-free raw product is said to provide one portion of five recommended fruits and vegetables a day. It contains banana rolled in cashew nuts, crunchy buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, almonds, figs, pea and rice protein, and one billion of bacteria each pack.
Anything goes: New launches continue to redefine the snack bar
Snack bar formats have evolved and brands are looking beyond bars to provide consumers with portion control, shareability and fun. Demonstrating what an established option this format has become, balls and bites accounted for 7% of all global snack bar launches over 2017, more than doubling over the past three years.
Savoury flavours have emerged in traditionally sweet categories over the past few years. Salty versions of sweet flavours, such as salted caramel or 'sweet and salty' popcorn, have become mainstream, overshadowing overly sweet flavours and possibly enabling greater consumption. Launches of 'sweet and salty' snack bars tripled over the three years to 2017. Moving further along the sweet-savoury continuum, the snack bar category has also seen launches of fruit and vegetable combinations.
Lubs Pepper & Spinach with Chilli Veggie Bar, Germany
An organic vegetable bar with red pepper, spinach and cayenne pepper. This vegan product is free from gluten and added sugar.
MaXsport Raw Juicer Beetroot and Currant Bar, Germany
Mixing vegetables and fruit, this vegan snack is high in fibre and contains no added sugar.
Meal replacement snack bars aren’t just for dieters
Time is a precious commodity and consumers are hungry for products that help them streamline every moment of their lives. Meal replacement products allow to deal with the time-consuming tasks of meal-planning, food shopping and eating more efficiently. While some consumers receive enormous pleasure from their eating experiences, not everyone is a foodie, and some are too busy to be foodies all the time.
Snack bars are experimenting with non-traditional ingredients including cheese, meat, eggs and even insects, and this trend shows no sign of abating. Dairy ingredients and yogurt brands have been appearing in the snack bar category as brands look to offer consumers a more convenient way to snack on dairy products.
Clio Strawberry Greek Yogurt Bar Enrobed in Chocolate, USA
A unique new snack bar that offers yogurt consumers true on-the-go snacking convenience. Made from pressed Greek yogurt and enrobed in chocolate, these bars need to be refrigerated, but can be consumed with just one hand and no spoon.
Salad Shots Bar Choco Balsamic Snack Bar, USA
This natural product is said to combine the goodness of a salad with the convenience of a bar, and is infused with superfoods and antioxidants. It’s made with dark chocolate, cranberries, goji berries, chia seeds, kale, spinach, brown rice, quinoa, almonds, walnuts and pecans.
You Beef Bar with Apple and Banana, Switzerland
This low fat, high in protein bar is described as a dried beef preparation made from meat pieces with apples, bananas and honey.
Cathedral City Lighter Mature Cheese Snack Bar, UK
This 30g bar targets consumers who enjoy snacking on cheese, but are looking for a convenient format for on-the-go snacking.
Smooth-textured layers add healthy indulgence to snack bars
Snack bar brands are embracing nut butters, the spread-turned-snack food that has experienced growth in popularity over the past year. However, textural variety is not something that has been well explored yet, with only a few brands keeping the nut butter as a separate textural element, rather than mixing it into the bar itself. By doing so, for instance through sandwiched layers or fillings, they go beyond flavour and use soft, creamy textures to add appetite appeal.
Kashi GoLean Plant Power Honey Pecan Baklava Plant Powered Bars, USA
Playing with textures, this bar has a smooth honey, cashew and sunflower seed butter layer on top of crunchy nuts, seeds and chewy wholegrains.
Broderick's Crunchy Slam Dunk Peanut Chunk Bar, Ireland
This Belgian chocolate and rice crispies bar is covered with a layer of smooth peanut butter bar and chocolate.
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