The hustle and bustle of modern life has made sitting down to three square meals a day nearly impossible for many Americans. So how are these hungry, time-pressed consum- ers filling their bellies? Increasingly, they’re reaching for energy, protein and health bars.
These functional foods are packaged in a convenient format and loaded with nutritious ingredients such as protein,
vitamins and/or minerals to give hungry consumers the boost
they need to get through the day.
Retail sales of energy and nutrition bars are expected to post
double-digit growth this year, surpassing $3.8 billion, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. But convenience
stores trail other retail formats when it comes to capturing
market share. Mass merchandisers account for 28% of energy
and nutrition bar sales and supermarkets and grocery stores
capture nearly a third of sales, according to Packaged Facts.
With just 12% of energy and nutrition bar sales, convenience
stores come in a distant third.
As consumers’ appetite for energy, protein, and health bars
continue to climb, convenience stores would do well to improve their product offers within this growing category.
SNACKING ON THE RISE
The rising popularity of protein, health and energy bars dovetails with several other trends among today’s busy consumers.
For starters they’re no longer gathering around the table to eat
laboriously prepared meals with their families.
“People eat differently today; they eat on the go,” said NACS
spokesman Jeff Lenard.
Once considered a bad habit, snacking is now how many
Americans eat a significant amount of the food they consume.
Nearly half of all eating by adults today occurs between meals,
OFFERING ENERGY, PROTEIN AND HEALTH, BARS CAN
IMPROVE YOUR STORE’S IMAGE, ATTRACT CUSTOMERS
AND KEEP THE CASH REGISTER RINGING.
and 44% of these snack breaks are done alone, market research firm the Hartman Group found.
To make on-the-go snacking easier, “the convenience store
customer is looking for food they can throw in their bag,” said
Lizanne Falsetto, CEO and founder of ThinkProducts, maker of the Think Thin line of nutrition bars, which includes 24
SKUs and began selling in 7-Eleven stores in January.
At the same time, consumers are growing increasingly
health conscious. They may be snacking more, but they’re also
being more careful about the foods they consume.
“Instead of having snacks traditionally thought of as a treat,
we’re seeing more consumers embrace the concept of good-for-you snacks,” Lenard said. “More in the way of fruits and
vegetables, more in the way of jerky — and particularly energy,
protein and health bars because they can give you a quick meal
replacement that’s not going to make you seek out something
else that may not fit your nutritional goals.”
A GOOD FIT
Convenience stores are well positioned to take advantage of
the snacking trend with sales and brand image both potential-
ly benefitting from energy, protein and health bars in particu-
lar. Though bars can be consumed any time of day, many con-
sumers choose to stock up on snacks in the morning.
“Forty-one percent of consumers who buy a snack during
the breakfast daypart are buying energy bars or a bar of some
type,” said Karin Thrift, director of sales for Clif, maker of
products including Clif Bar energy bars, Clif Builders protein
bars and Luna nutrition bars.
As the first stop of the day for many consumers, conve-
nience stores could increase basket size by convincing shop-
pers to pick up a bar when they fill their tank or grab their
BY JAMIE HARTFORD