Natural Products Insider

JUL-AUG 2018

INSIDER is the leading information source for marketers, manufacturers and formulators of dietary supplements, healthy foods and cosmeceuticals. Since 1997, INSIDER has been serving the needs of the global nutrition industry.

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30 INSIDER July/August 2018 30 INSIDER July/August 2018 With nutrition bar launches landing on retail shelves faster than consumers can carve out cart space, the scene is approaching carrying capacity—and developers have to work that much harder to make their products stand out. While hopping on the bar wagon is "clearly a major opportunity," according to Michael Bush, executive director at Kerry for GanedenBC 30 and Wellmune ® , "the challenge is to generate sales in what's already a pretty busy space." Mintel's "Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bars – US" report (April 2018) valued the sector at US$6.875 million in 2017—a 2.6 percent increase over the prior year—and estimated that 13 percent growth will bring it up to $7.735 million by 2022. The category has come a long way from when rock-hard granola was about the only bar option. Today's offerings come in all shapes, sizes, textures and fl avors, boasting functional ingredients and smart marketing to capture consumer attention. Snack bars are "the preferred option for a lot of people because they exist outside the 'junk food' space," noted Jordan Donohue, business development manager for sports nutrition and health foods, Arla Foods Ingredients. "They tend to be made with wholesome ingredients like fruits, nuts and seeds—and, of course, protein. And consumers' perception of snack bars is that they provide a healthier choice when feeling hungry. Now that they're so widely available, they're much easier to fi nd and the category just continues to snowball." Snack bars also fi t the way consumers eat today. "They're the ultimate portable food solution with no mess and minimal waste," Bush said. "They're there for emergencies, as a treat, or as a meal replacement when sitting down to a full meal is out of the question." And best of all, "they stay fresh and tasty even when stored for weeks in a cupboard or desk drawer, or kept at the bottom of a bag." Philip Caputo, marketing and consumer insights manager, Virginia Dare, credited brands that recognize the demand for personalized nutrition and made-for-me formats for creating bars that "connect with specifi c lifestyles and need states while continually improving taste, fl avor, texture and positive claims." Exhibit A: RXBAR, which succeeds "by highlighting clean label bona fi des while still offering a large serving of protein for those seeking it," he said. In terms of trends, Trish Elking, marketing industry leader—bars, snacks, cereal, DuPont Nutrition & Health, said "innovative shapes, textures, protein bites and balls, resealable packaging, decadent dessert-inspired fl avors and novel functional ingredients" are keeping the category fresh. And there's transparency— literal or fi gurative. KIND Bar, she noted, uses its clear packaging to signal, "in essence, they have nothing to hide." Standing Out in a Crowd But transparency only goes so far. "Customers are coming to us asking a consistent question," said Jim Komorowski, chief science offi cer, Nutrition 21 LLC. "'How do we differentiate our products from the rest of the market?'" Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing, Fiberstar Inc., regularly witnesses this dilemma in action at trade shows. "At the last few shows I walked, I noticed that the bar category is saturated with startups," she said. "The barriers to entry are quite high in the category in the traditional sense, so I was curious what was driving this plethora of startups. Some speculate that the food industry is the next tech industry for investors—so there is investor money fueling this phenomenon. However, some of these startups are actually gaining traction despite weak differentiation points." How? Social media and online sales help, but the bars that truly do best "are those with a defi ned product positioning and differentiation versus what else is on retailers' shelves," she concluded. As Donohue put it, "Consumers buy snack bars for a variety of reasons and occasions, so it's important to understand who you're making a bar for and what their motives are for choosing a particular bar over another. Get this right and you could have a hit on your hands." One clear motive: nutrition. According to Packaged Facts' 2017 report, "US Retail Market Trends and Opportunities," of the 39 percent of consumers who reported buying nutrition bars, 67 percent look for high protein content, 53 percent sought low sugar levels, half wanted high fi ber and 36 percent welcomed "healthy" fats. Healthy fats? Once an oxymoron, the notion that fats can be healthful—rather than the culprit behind weight gain, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and more—is fi nally sinking in with the scientifi c community and the public. The acceptance of fats as favorable has encouraged bar formulators to rebalance nutrient profi les in favor of strategically chosen lipid content. Omega-3 fatty acids from marine, algae and plant sources have long enjoyed a Food & Beverage: Functional Bars Greatest bar growth is anticipated in the nutritional and performance segments, but the snack segment continues to dominate in size. Product positioning and differentiation are key to standing out in the crowded bar segment. Consumers appreciate seeing functional ingredients on bar labels, but one factor is essential to bar success: natural. Bar Necessities: Formulating Functional Bars That Stand Out in a Crowd by Kimberly J. Decker INSIDER's Take

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