Europe’s leading specialist healthy bar manufacturer – VSI – will open a new facility in January 2012 that will double its capacity to 300m bars per year.
CEO Gerard Janssens told NutraIngredients today that the increase was necessary as the company was at its production limit of 150m bars as European and global demand grows for dietetic, meal replacement and sports bars.
That capacity itself was increased from 110m bars in August, 2010, as the turnkey contract manufacturer keeps pace with a client list approaching 200 including both large and small healthy bar manufacturers.
It currently has about 600 different bars.
Euromonitor stats show the western European health and wellness snack bars market has increased from €627.7m in 2005 to reach €726.7m this year and will be worth €797.1m by 2015.
“We prefer to call clients partners because we work closely with them in product development because it is very tricky get the balance right between health and functionality,” Janssens said.
“But if you compare the bars of today with those of 10 years ago there is a huge difference. Not only do they taste better they are healthier too. We have put in a lot of effort in this over the years.”
VSI does 75% of its business with European partners, although an increasing percentage of those and other products are ending up on shelves in non-European markets like the US, latin America, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
VSI does not reveal sale figures but Janssens said a typical bar could cost between €0.15-€0.75 centimes, depending on volume, ingredients and other formulation parameters.
VSI began life in the Netherlands 35 years ago as a bakery but has devoted itself exclusively to the manufacture of healthy bars since 2003.
Janssens was keen to emphasise that these kind of bars are functional and technical in nature, and should not be considered in the same vain as the likes of cereal and granola bars.
The most popular flavour was chocolate followed by fruits such as orange or strawberry.
A Mintel report from February 2011 found three in five UK adults ate cereal, snack and energy bars.
“Nutritional benefits in cereal and snack bars spark interest among two in three adults who eat such bars, suggesting further potential to develop such qualities,“ it said.