His & hers: nutrition bars keep everyone happy: tailoring nutrition bars for specific needs is keeping them relevant to all consumers.



The family meal: wholesome, nutritious and offering servings of nutrients and antioxidants that are good for everyone.

But what is the family meal these days? More and more, it involves each member of the family consuming food in a different location, while doing a different activity. And frequently, that meal is a nutrition bar.

Who's Buying?

Nutrition bars are nothing new, but they are being targeted toward specific people, doing specific activities.There are Luna Bars from Clif Bar & Company, Emeryville, CA, aimed specifically at women, and the same company's, Clif Kid Organic ZBar, which is marketed as being specifically for kids. There's even the BebeBar, designed specifically for pregnancy and nursing.

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Some bars get even more specific, For example, Planters, Fort Smith, AR, (of peanut fame) has launched Nut-rition Snack Bar for bone health; the F-Factor bar from Hain Celestial Group's Health Valley brand has a high fiber content (12 grams); and Iron Girl Energy Bars from PowerBar, Berkeley, CA, are aimed at female athletes.

Women are certainly the main target of nutrition bars--either for themselves, their family or their children. Women tend to eat nutrition bars from a weight loss perspective, according to Shannon Brown, an analyst with Packaged Facts, a market researcher based in Rockville, MD."But for men it's more something to tide them over and fill them up a little. It's not so much about weight loss. So they are more interested in the protein, the workout bats."

Bars for children are also coming into their own. Nutrition bars are ideal for children, said Melissa Abbott culinary insights, The Hartman Group, Seattle, WA.

"They're portable and can go into a backpack. The parents might want to give [their kids] a banana but the bar will last for a while in a backpack and it doesn't matter if it gets squashed. They're also good because moms like to be able to see which nutrients their kid is getting."

But manufacturers of bars for children have a line line to walk, Ms. Brown pointed out."Seven-year-olds don't usually want to eat granola bars so they have to offer the things that the parents are looking for, which is the health aspect, the convenience. But if the parents are buying them and the kids aren't eating them, it's no good. They have to taste good and the packaging has to appeal."

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Ms. Abbott agreed, saying "They have to appeal to the mom and the kid. If it looks like mom's bar the kid doesn't want to eat it;"

To suit today's on-the-go lifestyles, RezVez, Rancho Santa e, CA, recently launched a bar aimed at travelers. The Travel Time bar boosts immune health, contains resveratrol, 5 to 7 grams of fiber and only 190 calories. It also has no trans-fats, artificial colors, preservatives or cholesterol, and is low-sodium. It's suitable for everyone, said Malcolm Nicholl, president and CEO.

As for when consumers eat nutrition bars, the answer is always, but there does appear to be heavy usage in the mornings, which is perhaps no surprise given many Americans' busy commutes and the fact that nutrition bars seem to align naturally with breakfast.

"Nutrition bars are generally consumed as a snack to bridge between meals, but some bars like Balance Bars are also used as meal replacement," said Peter Wilson, president and CEO of Balance Bar Company, Valhalla, NY."Balance Bar over-indexes with morning usage occasions and as a replacement for breakfast specifically."

Growth vs. Saturation

Given the vast number of people to whom nutrition bars appeal, it's no surprise that the category is growing. After all, who isn't looking for convenience these days?

According to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago, IL-based market research firm, sales of snack and granola bars, a category that encompasses nutrition bars, were up more than 7% over the previous year, for the 52 weeks ending August 7, 2011, with Americans spending slightly more than $3 million.

Of the four categories included in this umbrella--snack/granola bars, break fast/cereal/snack bars, granola bars, nutritional/intrinsic health value bars--the biggest gain by far was seen in the nutritional/health bars segment, which increased by more than 14% in terms of sales, almost triple that of any other category.

Natural products data provider SPINS, Schaumburg, IL, indicated that sales of bars and energy gels grew nearly 13% in the 52 weeks ending September 3, 2011. This growth was largely stimulated by energy gels, which grew by 37.5%, but other categories also saw substantial sales increases. For example, lifestyle and wellness bar sales jumped by 13%, diet bars by 17% and athletic bar sales increased by 8%.

Chicago, IL-based market researcher Mintel is fairly optimistic about future growth of this category, but expressed concern about market saturation.

"While Mintel expects that demand will remain strong, sales growth may decelerate [between 2011 and 2015] due to market saturation and competition from channels outside [the supermarket, drug store and mass merchandiser channels], such as the natural channel and Wal mart," it said in a report.

What's In? What's Out?

Wherever they buy nutrition bars, consumers are very interested in the ingredients that go into them. And consumers tend to look both at what the bars do contain, and what I hey don't.

Fiber, protein (especially soy and whey protein, according to Mintel), omega 3s, whole grains, probiotics and superfruits are all positives that consumers are seeking. Vitamin D is a particularly sought-after vitamin in women's lines, said Paula Connelly, Luna brand director.

At the same time, they are seeking an absence of calories (or at least too many calories), high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats and saturated fats, genetically modified ingredients, sugar and aspartame.

In fact, according to U.K.-based Data monitor, several selected health claims showed some upward momentum between 2009 and 2010.

* High protein--claim made for 41 % of 2010's U.S. launches, up from 30% in 2009;

* High fiber--33% in 2010 vs. 30.5% in 2009;

* No gluten--30.5% in 2010 vs. 19.5% in 2009;

* High antioxidants--18% in 2010 vs. 14% in 2009.

"Convenient forms of protein are a macro trend we have been witnessing for about three years," said Pat Muldoon, CEO of Forward foods, Norman, OK, maker of the Detour bar line."We believe that protein bar users have expanded well beyond athletes and include people of all ages seeking a more balanced diet."

Consumers are veering toward protein for a number of reasons, he added."Protein users are focused on balanced nutrition, exercise for fitness performance today, and longevity long-term. We see more older folks coming to protein bars from doctors guiding patients on weight loss, diabetes and kidney dialysis."

And gluten-free has been a particular focus of Clif Bar in its Luna line- "A gluten-free offering was our number one ask from consumers, which is why we recently transitioned the Luna Protein line to be gluten-free," said Ms. Connelly.

There are other, less mainstream ingredients that are also popular; according to Anthony Flynn, president of YouBar, Los Angeles, CA, a company that creates personalized bars for individuals or companies.

"From an ingredient standpoint, acai and chia seeds, goji berries and maca powder have all been popular in the past couple of years," he said. "Pomegranate and stevia have been really blowing up, as well as golden berries, mulberries, mesquite, coconut palm sugar, wheat-grass and flax."

Mr. Flynn has also noticed more interest in the popular paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet. People following this plan eat meats, fruits and vegetables, with no grains or sugars.

Savory bars are also becoming more popular, Mr. Flynn noted, to the point where he's adding jalapenos and vegan bacon bits to them.

Conveniently Formatted

As well as what they don't contain, it's what the bars are not.

"This category overall seems to continue to distance itself from chocolate-enrobed candy bars," said Tom Vierhile, director of product launch analytics for Datamonitor. "Sometimes this goes in one direction or the other, but we are definitely in a period now where bars are trying to look like anything but a candy bar, which means more 'naked' bars where you can actually see the different bar ingredients."

At the same time, many bars are bor- % rowing some inspiration from the bakery category, he added. "It seems that we are seeing more products that are bakery-oriented or may be called 'squares' instead of 'bars,'perhaps to better differentiate offerings from the myriad bar products that are available."

An example of this trend is the Quaker True Delights Cafe Squares, which are described as "chewy granola squares with a chocolately drizzle."The company said they are a "good source"of iron, fiber and calcium.

But it's not only about ingredients, said The Hartman Group's Ms. Abbott. "It's about how it's made or that it's made with U.S. ingredients or in the U.S. People want the local product but they also want to feel connected. They want to feel they're putting their money toward something that's not just another huge corporation."

According to Jules Lambert, president of ProBar, Salt Lake City, UT,"'Local' is gathering momentum as sustainability issues grow and awareness about the energy inefficiencies of global trade become better known. Every chance we get, we purchase locally and partner locally to build better relationships with our providers and limit our impact on the environment."

Natural is also important to the company."Natural is a must; the closer you can get to eating straight from a plant, the more nutrition you'll receive and the better you'll feel,"explained Mr. Lambert.

But at the end of the day, nutrition bars' popularity mostly comes down to one thing: convenience.

"These are by far a convenience food. It's a meal replacement but people are using it more as a snack--to tide them over until dinner," said Packaged Facts' Ms. Brown. "It's a lot easier to keep a box of these in your pantry to throw into your bag than fruit, for example. I think [nutrition bars will] stay around and will follow whatever trends are going on in the food industry"

But the fact that they taste good doesn't hurt either.

According to Sheri Sears, co-founder of PR*Bar, Carlsbad, CA, which has nine products in its line-up,"We've heard from many of our fans that the bars enable them to have that 'something sweet' that satisfies cravings and fills them up without guilt Nutrition bars like ours are not only convenient but also healthy to eat, which serves a need that's certainly not changing anytime soon."

New On the Market

In August 2011, Balance Bar launched nimble, which the company claims is"'the first bar for women that conveniently combines beauty and nutrition in a delicious, indulgent bar."

Fortified with antioxidants, beta-carotene and 10 mg of FloraGLO lutein, nimble provides vital nutrients for healthy skin and what the company says are seven critical ingredients for women's bodies: protein (10 grams); fiber (5 grams); calcium; iron; folate; and vitamins D and B6.

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With more of a bakery feel, this year Balance has also launched Cafe, consisting of two products. They are all-natural and contain 14 grams of protein, 200 calories, 23 vitamins and minerals and are an"excellent source" of antioxidants and vitamin D.

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KIND is bringing grains to the market with KIND Healthy Grains--a line of snackable clusters made from healthful whole grains and superfoods. Each of the six flavors feature blends of 100% whole grains such as amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat, along with superfoods, including blueberries, walnuts, chia seeds and flax.

In December 2011, Joulebody, New York, NY, launched a detox meal replacement bar. According to the company it provides "exquisite nutrition" to encourage the human operating system to perform at its optimum ability. The all-natural meal replacement bar contains"307 powerfully nutritious calories,"is vegan and has 9.5 grams of complete raw protein. It has no wheat, nuts, dairy or gluten.

PR*Bar launched five new bars in August 2011.Two are gluten-free (Chocolate Mint, Apple Pie), with 200 calories, 15 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbs and are all-natural with no trans fats. Three others are granola bars (Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin and Peanut Butter Berry), also with 200-210 calories, 15 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbs, are all-natural with no trans fats.

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RezVez's Travel Time Bar is said to be the "first--and only--gourmet nutrition bar with Wellmune WGP (a natural ingredient derived from baker's yeast that is clinically proven to activate key immune cells) and resveratrol."It is high in fiber, containing 5 to 7 grams, has 190 calories, and there are a host of things that are not in it: trans fats, artificial flavors and preservatives, cholesterol, gluten or dairy.

Prohar has launched its HALO dessert-styled line. These certified organic products are made from mostly raw ingredients, are a"good source"of omega 3 and 6, contain 150 calories, are low in sugar, dairy-free and vegan.

Think products, Marina del Rey, CA, launched the industry's first natural, low-sugar nut bar called think Thin Crunch in September 2011. A mixed whole nut bar with three flavors, it has 70% less sugar and 80% more protein than other fruit and nut bars. It is also gluten-free.

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Quaker Oats Company, Chicago, IL, debuted Quaker Life Soft Baked Nutrition Bars, which are high-fiber bars"with bakery inspired taste & texture." They have 150 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per bar.

Health Valley Co.'s new F-Factor has high levels of fiber (12 grams), 5 grams of fat and is made with no genetically engineered ingredients. All ingredients are also natural, there are no artificial sweeteners, but there are 500 mg of omega 3 ALA, and 7 grams of insulin (prebiotic fiber that aids digestion).

PowerBar provides "nutrition for the athlete in you" with its Iron Girl Energy Bars, which are new in the U.S. Aimed at women, these bars are soft, chewy and are made with whole grains (14 grams per bar) and real fruit. They're a''good source" of iron, calcium and B vitamins.

Kraft Foods' Planters Nutrition Snack Bars were launched in 2011 in three varities. The Bone Health variety is a "good source" of calcium and magnesium. The bars are also offered in Antioxidant and Heart Healthy versions.

POM Wonderful, Los Angeles, CA, offers its PomX Bar Antioxidant Superbar line in four flavors, all of which are gluten-free. The bars have 210 calories, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and 340 mg of potassium.. The Pomegranate Dipped in Yogurt bar is made with POM Wonderful pomegranatearils, natural almonds and cashews.

Sequel Naturals, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, debuted Vega Sport Protein Bars, which the company says contain all-natural, plant-based ingredients designed to help athletes prepare for, sustain and recover from athletic performance, and to help them strengthen and regenerate muscles. Vega Sport Protein Bars feature SaviSeeds, a rich, plant-based source of the amino acid tryptophan, also known as sacha inchi seeds. They are said to have 13 times more omegas than wild salmon, and are also packed with complete protein. CS9

This article in a nutshell:

* Who's buying?

* Growth vs. saturation

* What's in? What's out?

* Conveniently formatted

* New on the market

By Amanda Baltazar Contributing Writer

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