Last Updated on November 18, 2020 by Novotaste

Entitled “Choosing the Right Protein for Your Snack Bar,” this paper examines the market for snack bars that provide a quality hit of protein and a wide variety of new tastes.

The paper reviews the latest themes in consumer preference in the area of ingredients and bar tastes, important trends and regional regulations in formulation, and plant, dairy and mixed protein in new bar concepts.

Snacks in the spotlight during COVID-19
“Snackification” – the movement toward snacking versus eating specific meals – was already on the rise before COVID-19, with consumers paying much more attention to the nutritional value of snacks.

Since the offset of the pandemic, however, consumers have naturally started to feel more vulnerable. This, in turn, has accelerated a desire to incorporate healthier foods into their diets as a means of supporting long-term health goals.“Snackification” had already been on the rise before COVID-19, says Kerry. throughout the COVID-19 crisis, consumers rushed to stock up on snacks and other food items, whether for a quick and convenient source of nutrition or to provide comfort during challenging times.

Moves to mainstream
“As protein snack bars are now mainstream products, snack bar brand developments will have to provide further ‘permissible indulgence’ to successfully compete with other snack options,” Mindy Leveille, strategic marketing manager for Proteins at Kerry, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

“Delivering more flavor and sensory experiences will be key,” she adds.

Moreover, clean labeling is another challenge as this category expands further into the mainstream.

“There is an opportunity for snack bar manufacturers to innovate and benefit by adopting simpler clean label formulations,” Leveille maintains.

For some time, protein snack bars have been focused on sweet flavors. As the category is becoming more popular, there is an opportunity to broaden the flavor panel and develop savory options,” she notes.

They are showcasing several protein bar concepts in its white paper to demonstrate the flavor combinations that can be explored by snack bar manufacturers in both sweet and savory spaces, such as tomato and basil or chocolate and mint.

“There are many emerging ingredients and flavors to apply in protein snack bars, ranging from cold brew coffee to mango, and savory alternatives to sweet cereal bars,” Leveille adds.

Packing a punch

Protein-added snack bars are a quick and convenient way for consumers to get a nutritious boost. 
Breaking it down further, the appeal of protein specifically – an essential nutritional element in health and wellness – has led sales of snack bars with “high” or “added” protein claims to expand as a category.

“The upward trend in demand for protein-fortified snacks will continue over the long term, driven by rejuvenated consumer interest in healthy eating and underpinned by dynamic innovation in the category,” Leveille explains.

“With new sources of protein being discovered continually and new tastes/delivery formats constantly being innovated, snack bars’ fortunes have taken a noticeable turn upward,” she explains.

“Sales of snack bars with high/added protein claims continue to rise as consumers respond to a ‘feel-good’ factor around purchasing snacks that pack an added nutritional punch,” adds Leveille.

“Consumers everywhere recognize the value of protein in snack-size portions, and protein-added snack bars are a quick and convenient way for busy people to get a tasty nutrition boost.”

According to Leveille, Kerry’s white paper provides “a treasure trove of information designed to assist bar manufacturers as they search for just the right protein for their snack bar formulations.”

Complex bar challenges
There are a couple of considerations for bar product development to keep top of mind. Consumers want alternative plant protein sources and there is a growing trend toward “flexitarian” protein bars – hybrids that incorporate both plant and animal protein.

While sustainability in manufacturing is undoubtedly valued, consumers also believe taste is the most crucial factor when purchasing a protein product.

This is a concern for high-protein content bars, as surveys have revealed that those with health claims are less likely to be perceived as “good tasting” versus comparable products without such assertions.

Having a clean label is another critical concern for consumers. The advent of new and alternative proteins heralds an opportunity for snack bar manufacturers to innovate and benefit by adopting simpler, clean label formulations.

This is especially important for protein bars with high sugar content or those that have been highly processed. Brands are now being pressured to reformulate with simpler ingredients and to be more transparent about on-pack information.

The white paper is available for download here.

Source: “Snackification” rises: Kerry highlights trends in snack bar development