Euromontior International predicts that the UK market will continue to grow in the next five years, forecasting sales worth €243m by 2019. The US market is set to increase to €3670m, according to the market analyst.
The biggest selling bar in the UK was GlaxoSmithKine’s Maxinutrition followed by American company NBTY’s Precision Engineered. But smaller British companies, such as Natural Balance Foods and The Food Doctor, are also seeing a rise in sales.
Natural Balance Food’s Nakd energy bar range, which is gluten- and dairy-free with no added sugar, saw sales increase by 80.5% to €28.4m, while their soy-based protein energy bar TREK saw sales leap by 373% to €3.3m.
According to Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, associate editor of Food Technology magazine, certain key trends can be seen in the category.
“To meet consumers’ demands for 'clean' labels, great taste and texture and 'real' ingredients, innovative companies are using alternative protein sources, changing flavour profiles, and going back to basics—and relying on forward-thinking ingredient suppliers to develop interesting, exciting products that are shaking up the category.”
Keeping in line with this clean label trend is UK company MuleBar, which describes its nutrition bars as “real, identifiable and natural,” while Natural Balance Foods highlights the fact that its energy bars contain five ingredients compared to the typical 30 of conventional bars.
For Marilyn Stieve, ingredient technologist for Glanbia Nutritionals, “there is a general trend in the bar category to continue to add grains and seeds to a variety of bar types”.
The Food Doctor’s range of ‘Get set’ energy bars now have guarana seeds and added spirulina to “enhance energy production as well as providing essential micronutrients,” while MuleBar adds amaranth seeds which it describes as a “true superfood”.
Savoury bars are becoming more commonplace in the US market, as consumers are becoming increasingly wary of the high added sugar content of many cereal bars. According to Mintel, almost a quarter of respondents said they had not chosen a cereal or nutrition bar because they considered them to be too sugary.
Teresa Penn, senior food technologist for Cargill Inc, says: “Savoury bars are definitely continuing to see increased new product launches. Bars are the perfect vehicle to get consumers to try out new flavours and culinary trends in the market because of their reasonably low price and small serving size.”
Last year a group of British students brought out a savoury quinoa bar, Goosefoot, after winning the AVA culinary product development competition. The bar was initially sold in Bristol with plans to extend to the rest of the UK if sales went well.