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The bar bombardment: an overview of the latest trends in the bar market.

Since 1987, when the PowerBar first hit retail shelves, energy bars have become an indelible part of our food landscape. Once only a food for extreme and serious athletes, the energy bar has found favor with anyone seeking a nutritional lift. Whether this is more the result of quality products, clever marketing or consumers becoming more health conscious is debatable, although all have played an important part. One thing that is certain, however, is that the market has boomed and branched into many directions.

As the bar market becomes more fragmented to meet the varying demands of consumers, it becomes harder to define exactly what an energy bar is. "The category called 'energy bar' is sort of a misnomer," commented Bill Coppel, president, Vital Living, Boonton, NJ. "If you look at where the category started with PowerBar, it was truly designed as a sports bar to be consumed during athletic activities. That whole category has evolved into meal replacement, or healthy snacking."

According to SPINS, San Francisco, CA, the energy bar category, which is broken down into diet bars, lifestyle/wellness bars and athletic bars, grew in the mainstream channel from $470 million in October 2001 to $580 million in October 2002. During that time, the most significant growth occurred in the lifestyle/wellness segment, which grew 29% from $171 million to $220 million. While the lifestyle/wellness bars saw the greatest dollar growth, diet bars stand at the top of the heap in terms of current dollar sales at $240 million (see Figure 1).

In the natural products channel, bars grew from $65 million in October 2001 to $71 million in October 2002. In this channel, diet bars experienced the most dollar growth of 28%, going from $4.5 million in sales to $5.8 million. However, lifestyle/wellness bars far exceeded diet bars in terms of their current dollar sales, which stand at $55 million (see Figure 2).

Commenting on the growth patterns in the different channels was Jay Jacobsen, marketing specialist, Optimum Nutrition, Aurora, IL. "What we continue to see is that while bars have become a mainstay in the natural foods industry, they are quickly branching out into the mainstream. As the average American consumer seeks ways to improve the quality of their daily nutrition in light of increased time and travel demands, bars provide the perfect convenience food for the modern American consumer."

Mr. Coppel added to these thoughts saying that the lifestyle changes that have occurred in the last 10-12 years have resulted in the bar boom. "We continue to drive toward a society of convenience," he said, adding, "Obesity is a looming health issue on the horizon that's consuming everyone. This has led to a dialogue going on out there about what constitutes healthy eating and the bar market is becoming a reflection of that."

Taste Still Rules

Over the years, the bar market has evolved rapidly in response to consumer demands for better taste and convenience, which are factors that continue to drive the market forward today. Although nutraceutical ingredients don't have a great track record when they enter the taste arena, companies have come a long way with regard to satisfying consumers' palates. As the market continues to evolve, consumers are now looking for a bar that tastes close to candy or dessert, but has the nutritional benefits of a supplement.

Commenting on this trend was Mike Bengivenga, director of research and product development at Cytodyne Technologies, Wall, NJ. "The biggest obstacle the bar market faces is that the more mainstream our products become, the more we need them to taste like the foods or desserts consumers are used to," he said. "Ideally, if we can have our bars taste like candy but serve a function, then we will be covering all our bases."

Chris Geist, COO, Premier Nutrition, Carlsbad, CA, said that the taste concern is due to companies branching off into the mainstream where consumers simply demand it more. "We may have the nutritionally perfect product in the laboratory, however, when you get out to 'Joe' and 'Jane' consumer they're not necessarily going to be accustomed to that flavor profile," he said.

Taste is not negotiable, according to Dr. Ari Babaknia, founder and chairman, Dr. Soy Nutrition, Irvine, CA. He said while retailers are looking for healthy products to fill their shelves, health is really a secondary issue. "The number one issue is taste, especially for children. Taste rules!" he said. "We have to appeal to mothers who are looking for a healthy alternative snack for their children."

Ingredient Trends

As for popular ingredients, Michelle Ferguson, marketing assistant, Clif Bar., Berkeley, CA, said, "The inclusion of organic ingredients in bars is becoming a major trend, particularly with the USDA's new legislation, which makes it easier for consumers to understand organics." In addition, she suggested, "More and more companies are incorporating organic ingredients because consumers are more focused on their health and well being and organic is one step closer to that."

Also weighing in on organics was Vital Living's Mr. Coppel. "The notion of using real food ingredients and actually using organic ingredients in products poses a two-fold challenge. One deals with taste and one deals with shelf life," he explained. "The challenge is, how do you make something that tastes really good and has a sustainable shelf life using all natural products? In addition, making something out of real food is not inexpensive and there's a certain level of what the consumer is willing pay for a product like this."

According to Tina Fleres, marketing assistant, Universal Nutrition, New Brunswick, NJ, there has been a major push toward lowering the sugar content of bars. "The hottest ingredient is not about the addition of something, but the subtraction of sugar," she said.

Discussing sucralose and soy was Matt Wiant, vice president, Atkins Nutritionals, Ronkonkoma, NY. "Sucralose is becoming a popular ingredient because it can provide the taste of sugar, without all the carbohydrates, which appeals to the manufacturers of high-protein, low-carb bars as they continue to be a hot trend," he said, adding, "Soy is also becoming more popular among consumers as a wholesome protein source."

Also touching on soy, Dr. Soy's Dr. Babaknia said, "If you look at the bar category over the past two years, the fastest growing segment has been soy because of an increased interest in soy protein over other proteins that have traditionally been used in bars."

Market Challenges

The rapid expansion of the bar market has presented a few challenges to manufacturers. Universal Nutrition's Ms. Fleres commented, "As a result of the bar market becoming so congested, good bars have suffered under a deluge of flashy marketing blitzes by companies with inferior bars." She added, "The present bar market is not only competitive, but also borderline over saturated. An educated decision in a sea of bars could take days of research for a point of purchase, two dollar impulse buy."

In addition, dealing with obstacles in the retail environment is a continuing challenge for companies. Discussing problems at the retail level was Mr. Wiant of Atkins Nutritionals. "Many retailers are not keeping up the shelf space in response to the rapid bar growth," he said. "Consumers are confused with all the new bar choices when they are merchandised together. We have found that when controlled carb bars get their own section, sales improve because it helps consumers with their decision process." He added that both retailers and consumers will benefit as categories within bars become better defined and delineated at the point of purchase.

Also discussing retail issues was Cindy Vallar, vice president and general manager, PowerBar, Berkeley, CA. "Attaining premium level merchandising locations in mainstream retail outlets is a continuing challenge that's becoming more relevant," she offered. "Grocery and mass outlets tend to place energy bar products all over the store, not necessarily in the most visible sections. Based on location, the category does not necessarily come to the attention of the mainstream, making it difficult to drive impulse purchasing by non-category users."

Keep it Growing

Industry experts believe the bar market is one of the fastest growing segments in the dietary supplement/functional food market. As bars are starting to become more like supplements that can be eaten like a meal, it seems that healthy growth will continue. Vital Living's Mr. Coppel commented, "People are going to seek foods/bars that will help them better manage their health. Given the option of eating a handful of supplements or eating a tasty snack and achieving the same level of nutrition, some consumers are going to opt for the bar."

Offering her opinion on growth was PowerBar's Ms. Vallar. "The bar market is growing through segmentation and specialization as it continues to appeal to a broader audience. Market growth can be attributed to greater general awareness of the category for the nutritional role it plays in maintaining long-term health. Another reason for growth is that marketing activities are reaching out to more mainstream consumers. More consumers are learning about the benefits that are intrinsic to the category, primarily nutrition and convenience. Lastly, improved taste and more mainstream taste profiles have contributed a large part to the market's growth." In addition, she said, "More competition drives innovation, which is good, but can lead to market confusion and the attribution of the 'energy bar' monicker to inappropriate products by companies looking to capitalize on the momentum of the market."

Finally, Atkins Nutritionals' Mr. Wiant commented on future opportunities and trends. "The category has become larger and more segments have emerged in response to opportunities and consumer needs. Bars are not really targeting major health issues yet, although they could move in that direction," he said. "Bars are providing convenient options for people who have chosen specific nutrition / activity approaches and don't have time during the day for full meals and snacks."

The New Stuff

New bars continue to flood the marketplace as marketers look to win over consumers with better taste, new flavors and improved nutritional profiles. In a crowded marketplace companies are looking for ways to make product offerings stand out.

Bar market pioneer, PowerBar, Berkeley, CA, recently added a new bar to its ProteinPlus line with the launch of Layered PowerBar ProteinPlus. Debuting in two new flavors, Chocolate Caramel Nut and Strawberry Creme, the new bars provide 14-15 grams of TriSource[TM], PowerBar's proprietary blend of protein, which combines whey, calcium and soy proteins. In addition, the 56-gram bars provide 17 vitamins and minerals, including 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamins C and E, and 50% of the recommended daily value of eight B complex vitamins. Layered PowerBar ProteinPlus bars contain 220 calories, 26-30 grams of carbohydrates, six grams of fat and no cholesterol.

In other news, the company has also added several flavors to its other lines of bars. Cookies & Cream and Cappuccino, which contains 25 mg of caffeine, have been added to the PowerBar Performance line; Carrot Cake and Double Chocolate have joined the PowerBar Harvest line and Creme Caramel Crisp and Strawberry Shortcake flavors have been added to its line of Pria bars.

Balance Bar, Rye Brook, NY, has expanded its bar portfolio with the introduction of Balance Satisfaction[TM], a 75-gram meal-sized bar designed to provide hunger satisfaction. Balance Satisfaction bars contain 6 grams of fiber, 11-12 grams of protein and are fortified with 23 vitamins and minerals, including 100% of the daily value for vitamins C and E. Balance Satisfaction bars are available in Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Crisp, Peanut Butter Crisp and Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal flavors. In addition, the company has also added Triple Chocolate Chaos and Peanut Butter flavors to its Balance Gold[TM] line.

On the new product front, Balance Bar has introduced Balance GoId[TM] Crunch. Balance Gold Crunch is based on the 40-30-30 nutrition philosophy. Each bar contains 15 grams of protein. In addition, all bars are fortified with 23 vitamins and minerals, are 210 calories and contain no artificial flavors, sweeteners and preservatives.

New from Odwalla, Half Moon Bay, CA, are three additions to its line. These include Superfood, which contains organic rolled oats, bananas, mangos, plant proteins, spirulina and kelp; Chocolate, which contains flaxseed, blueberries, raspberries and chocolate and Super Protein, which contains 16 grams of protein from soy and rice and 18 amino acids.

Premier Nutrition, Carlsbad, CA, has broadened its range of protein bars with the introduction of the Premier Complete[R] line of bars. The Premier Complete bar is 100% natural and contains no artificial flavors, colors, hydrogenated oils or preservatives and is cholesterol-free. Each bar provides 10 grams of soy protein and 22 vitamins and minerals, including 50% of the recommended daily value of calcium and folate. The Premier Complete Bar is available in Chocolate Chip Crunch, Caramel Crunch and Berry Crunch flavors. In addition Premier Nutrition has added a Chocolate Chocolate Chip flavor to its line of Protein Eight[TM] bars.

At Vital Living, Boonton, NJ, a new bar has been launched for women. Alma bar[TM] is formulated with a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. In addition to this balanced ratio, which is meant to help control weight, maintain energy levels and obtain optimal brain power, Alma bar is made from all natural, real food ingredients. Alma bar contains all four tocotrienols, phytosterols and carotenoids. Available in Chocolate Crunch and Almond Soy flavors, each Alma bar contains 11 grams of protein, 13-15 grams of non-GMO soy and 170-180 calories.

EAS, Golden, CO, has unveiled its line of AdvantEdge[R] Extreme Outdoor Energy Bars. Each bar is produced with all-natural grains and fruit and is formulated with 12 grams of protein and 25 vitamins and minerals. The new bars are available in four flavors including Carrot Cake, Double Chocolate Crunch, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin.

Clif Bar Inc., Anaheim, CA, has expanded its Luna[R] line to include three new flavors. The Luna bar line now includes Cherry Covered Chocolate[TM] Chocolate Peppermint Stick and Sweet Dreams flavors. In addition, new Clif Bar flavors have been introduced as well. They include Lemon Poppy Seed, Black Cherry Almond and Peanut Tofee Buzz, which includes caffeine.

Rexall Sundown, Boca Raton, FL, has been active with several of its brands. Its Carb Solutions[TM] line of high protein energy bars has expanded with the addition of three new flavors. The new flavors include Frosted Blueberry, Chocolate Cappucino Crisp and Chocolate Mint. Each bar contains over 20 grams of protein and 19 vitamins and minerals. Under the Worldwide Sport Nutrition[R] name, the company has added a Raspberry Vanilla flavor to its line of Pure Protein[R] Bars. Each 78-gram meal replacement bar contains 30-34 grams of the company's patented protein and each 50-gram bar contains 18-22 grams of the protein.

Xenadrine[R] high protein weight-control bar has been engineered by Cytodyne Technologies, Wall, NJ, to burn fat and build muscle at the same time. The Xenadrine bar contains 21 grams of the company's Xenadrine Protein Blend, 25 vitamins and minerals and 2 net carbohydrates. In addition, the bar features naturally occurring CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). Xenadrine bars are avail- able in Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Cookies & Cream and Chocolate Almond flavors.

Optimum Nutrition, Aurora, IL, recently launched its line of Pro Complex [TM] bars, which are formulated utilizing the company's Augmented Protein System (APS). Each bar offers 35 grams of the APS blend of gelatin-free protein without any sugar. Pro Complex bars also contain added glutamine peptides, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and Aminogen [R] in addition to a complement of vitamins and minerals.

Soy bar manufacturer GeniSoy, Fairfield, CA, has released the Xtreme Bar to the market, which was formulated from Genisoy's premium roasted soy nuts. Each bar contains 9 grams of soy protein and 19 vitamins and minerals per serving. Xtreme Bars are available in Peanut Butter Fix, Rocky Roadtrip, Carrot Cake Quake and Razberry Rush flavors.

Slim Fast, West Palm Beach, FL, has extended its product offerings to include Chewy Granola Bars, which were designed as meal replacement breakfast bars. The 220-calorie bars contain 22 vitamins and minerals and are available in Peanut Butter, Mixed Berry, Cranberry Apple and Chocolate Chip flavors.

The Scan-Diet [TM] S'mores meal replacement bar is the most recent product launch from General Nutrition Corporation (GNC), Pittsburgh, PA. The new bar joins other recent product launches including Strawberries n' Creme, Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Blueberry Cheesecake flavors. Scan-Diet bars feature a patented fiber and soy formula. Each bar provides 3 grams of dietary fiber and 9 grams of soy protein in addition to vitamins and minerals.

Zone Perfect Nutrition Company, Boston, MA, has introduced three new bar flavors. They include Fudge Graham, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Blueberry Yogurt. Each bar contains 16 grams of protein and 19 vitamins and minerals.

Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, Madison, NJ, has introduced a new line of bars under the Centrum [R] Performance [TM] name. Centrum Performance Energy Nutrition Bars include 21 vitamins and minerals and are available in a variety of flavors. The bars are available in Chocolate Nougat and Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors.

Universal Nutrition, New Brunswick, NJ, recently launched the latest flavor in its line of Doctor's CarbRite Diet bars. Frosted Cinnamon Bun joins the line of bars tailored for the carb-conscious dieter. Doctor's CarbRite bars are 100% sugar-free and contain no artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils or trans-fat.

In addition to taking its Endulge [TM] bar national, Atkins Nutritionals, New York, NY, added two new flavors to the line. The new flavors include Peanut butter Cup and Caramel Nut Chew.

Alternativa Natural's Pro-Energy Bar is not only a high energy and high protein bar, but it contains ingredients that may help improve the body's immune system. According to the Hauppauge, NY-based company, Pro-Energy Bar is the only product in the category to contain an antioxidant blend of green tea, CoQ1O and Origanox, which is derived from rosmarinic acid and may help lower the risk of some chronic diseases associated with aging. Alternativa Natural's Pro-Energy Bars are available in Chocolate and Blueberry flavors.
Figure 1

MAINSTREAM FDM BAR SALES

(52 weeks ending October 5, 2002)

Athletic 21%
Diet 41%
Lifestyle/Wellness 38%

Total Sales: $580 million

Source: SPINS, San Francisco, CA

Note: Table made from pie chart

Figure 2

NATURAL PRODUCT SUPERMARKET BAR SALES

(52 weeks ending October 5, 2002)

Athletic 15%
Diet 8%
Lifestyle/Wellness 77%

Total Sales: $71 million

Source: SPINS, San Francisco, CA

Note: Table made from pie chart


RELATED ARTICLE: The Future Of Chocolate

The first step in the evolution of the nutritious candy bar.

On the fringe of the energy/nutritional bar movement, a new category has evolved and is slowly taking shape. Still in its infancy, the era of the nutritious chocolate candy bar has begun. According to Dr. Ari Babaknia, founder and chairman, DrSoy Nutrition, Irvine, CA, "The line between the traditional candy bar and nutrition bar is getting fuzzier. For this reason, we call our Healthy Snacker [TM] bar 'Nutri Candy:" The company recently added Chocolate Caramel Crunch and Rocky Road flavors to the Healthy Snacker line. Each 47-gram, 180-calorie bar contains 11-12 grams of soy protein, 100% of the RDI for vitamins C and E, and 16 additional vitamins and minerals. "We even give the bars traditional candy bar names. The reason we did that is because we want to appeal to peoples' chocolate zones' he explained.

HVC Lizard Chocolate, Norwalk, CT, is another company that has become involved in the nutritious chocolate bar arena. The company recently introduced SoBe Chocolate Bars. Available in four varieties including Drive, Energy, Power and Tsunami, the bars complement products from SoBe's beverage lines. Energy contains guarana, panax ginseng and taurine; Power contains zinc, panax ginseng and selenium; Tsunami contains zinc, guarana and taurine and Drive contains creatine, L-proline and taurine. Each flavor contains 65-70% chocolate.

Rounding out the emerging category is Cadbury Scweppes, London, U.K., with its Boost Guarana bar. The company claims it to be the U.K.'s first mainstream chocolate bar proven to stimulate mental energy by increasing attention span and alertness. In addition to guarana, each 61-gram bar of Boost Guarana contains 54 mg of caffeine. A further variant, Boost Glucose, for physical fuel, was also recently introduced.

This article in a nutshell:

* Taste still rules

* A look at ingredient trends

* Exploring market challenges

* Raising the bar for the future

* A look at new product introductions
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Title Annotation:energy bars
Author:Wright, Tim
Publication:Nutraceuticals World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:3406
Previous Article:Proprietary soy products from Europe: an examination of the science behind two soy products from Nutri Pharma.
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