Americans consistently fall far below the recommended daily intake of 25 g of fiber, which is why the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) labeled it a shortfall nutrient that poses a public health risk. Fortunately, manufacturers and consumers are realizing fiber’s role in maintaining overall wellness, including improved digestive health, support for weight management, and a satiety and immune health booster. Nutrition bars—increasingly consumed in place of meals—and beverages are two categories with great growth potential.
Scan the snacks section of any grocery store and you’ll notice the shelves practically constructed brick-by-brick with boxes and boxes of bars: snack bars, nutrition bars, energy bars and more, all promising to help boost workouts, promote satiety and expedite weight loss. Together, they’re a formidable force.
According to Mintel’s “Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bars in the US” report, published April 2017, the category has soared amid increasing consumer interest in healthier and more nutrient-dense snack foods. Sales of bars overall increased 24 percent between 2011 and 2016 to reach $6.7 billion, Mintel reported, and are forecast to continue growing at a steady pace through 2021, reaching $8.2 billion in sales and gains of 23 percent.
Worldwide, Euromonitor International reported sales of snack and energy bars specifically carrying a health claim reached $3.8 billion in 2017, with a potential to reach about $4.7 billion by 2022. Bar consumers are loyal, too, and buy in bulk, so they’re never without their favorite snack. Packaged Facts’ “Nutrition Shakes and Bars: US Retail Market Trends and Opportunities” report, published November 2017, found strong sales are supported by the fact that the clear majority of bar consumers primarily buy nutritional bars in a multipack (as opposed to single bars).
Findings from Packaged Facts’ report reaffirmed the importance of nutrition to bars consumers. Among consumers surveyed, 44 percent of female and 52 percent of male respondents said nutritional support was their top motivation.
Despite bars’ great popularity, there is still immense room for growth. Packaged Facts found less than half of the population currently consumes these products, meaning marketers have opportunity to target specific demographics with the attributes they’re looking for.
Among the attributes influencing consumers’ decisions on which snack, nutrition or performance bars to purchase, Mintel found fiber topped the list—especially among older consumers. While 39 percent of consumers surveyed said high fiber claims were influential, 44 percent of consumers aged 55 years and older said they were influenced by such claims. Mintel reported this is because older consumers tend to have more specific dietary needs than their younger counterparts. Still, high fiber was the most influential attribute among all age groups, topping no artificial ingredients, no added sugar and organic ingredients in influence.
For more on this topic, download Food Insider Journal’s February 2018 issue “Fiber’s Versatility Boosts Product Innovation.”