feel good about their purchases, noted Brad Charron,
senior vice president of sports and active nutrition
at NBTY, the company that markets Pure Protein,
MET-Rx and Balance Bar. NBTY plans to launch new
Pure Protein Plus bars in May that have real food
inclusions and positive functional nutrition.
Clif Bar & Co. recently reduced the amount of
sugar in its recipe to address consumers’ healthy
snacking needs. Luna bars now have 25% less sugar,
said Karin Thrift, Clif Bar’s director of sales.
Manufacturers are also tapping into the latest
flavor trends, including caramel and sea salt, as well
as spicy bars. General Mills Convenience recently released the Nature Valley Sweet & Spicy Bar,
which contains cayenne pepper. In addition, General Mills’ Food Should Taste Good bars incorporate
savory and ethnic flavors like Macadamia Chai and
Hazelnut Sea Salt.
The new slate of food bars has prompted an
increasing number of c-stores to create secondary
locations on endcaps and in-line sets. Those sections
include Kind bars and other food bars that contain
whole nuts and fruits as the main ingredients, along
with fruit snacks, natural chips and popcorn, according to Chuck Engle, Kind’s vice president of sales.
“C-stores will benefit from carrying a larger variety
of food bars because it will allow them to better meet
the changing consumer needs,” Engle said.
Along with meat snacks and health/energy/protein
bars, the alternative snacks category includes granola/fruit snacks and “other” snacks, like trail mixes
and rice cakes.
While these two subcategories account for just
12.8% of combined alternative snacks contribution,
they both saw strong sales and unit gains in 2014,
thanks to increased demand for healthier snacks.
The “other” subcategory witnessed a 13.4% sales
growth and an 11.6% rise in units, while granola/fruit
AVG. STORE SALES
OF IN-STORE SALES
% OF STORES SELLING
2013 VS 2014
snacks experienced sales and unit increases of 9.9%
and 7.0%, respectively.
The “other” category remains a small portion of
alternative snack because c-stores are not typically
seen as a destination for that kind of product, according to Stephan Mecklenburg, research coordinator at
NACS. “Most consumers could expect to find jerky
and protein bars of some kind, but may not necessarily expect to find granola in a c-store, and thus not go
looking for it, even if it is stocked,” Mecklenburg said.
Meanwhile, the market for healthy and natural
products is predicted to remain strong, so the alternative snacks category should continue to flourish,
especially meat snacks and health/energy bars,
according to Mecklenburg.
Marketers are likely to respond to the demand with
additional new flavor profiles, packaging strategies,
and brands. “I see demand for these types of products
remaining strong, especially as on-the-go consumers
continue to demand substantial meal replacements,”
said Mecklenburg. “The convenience of our industry
can’t be beat.”
Carol Angrisani is a New York-based writer who has
been covering the food and beverage industries for more
than 20 years. Visit her on Twitter at @carolangrisani1.
Food bars with natural ingredients help consumers feel good about their purchases.
(Source: NACS State of the Industry Report of 2014 Data)