The company is aiming for spring to see somewhere between a 15% and 50% reduction in seven bars across the company’s fruit and nuts line, which will include Apple Cinnamon & Pecan and Almonds & Apricots. KIND announced last week it would be reducing sugar content. The company told FoodNavigator-USA that its updated recipe will be very similar to the original line but “with a bit less sweetness, and with the taste from the fruit and nuts taking center stage.”
Jared Koerten, senior food analyst at Euromonitor International, told BakeryandSnacks.com that this move is KIND trying to keep up with the level of growth the company has seen over the past few years.
“They’ve had a pretty phenomenal growth rate; they’re trying to keep that going and sustain that kind of growth rate,” he said.
In the US, Kind Bar has been quite successful in pushing forward the snack bar market. In 2014, the company was in 150,000 retail stores and sold 458m units, which had tripled since 2012.
Changing to lower sugar could, in part, stem from the US Food and Drug Administration calling the company out as failing to meet claims of being “healthy” and use of correct names on the ingredient list. This ended up spawning multiple lawsuits against the company.
However, KIND says its recipe update started a year ago. Joe Cohen, senior vice president of communications at Kind, told BakeryandSnacks that they're always looking for ways to update and improve the company's line of snacks.
"We took this philosophy a step further when we revisited our original Fruit & Nut line – which was first introduced 11 years ago – and challenged ourselves to find new ways to lower the added sugar," he said. "This recipe update follows KIND’s long-standing commitment to making snacks that are as low in sugar as possible without sacrificing taste."
“Nuts, key ingredients in many of our snacks and one of the things that make fans love our bars, contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under the FDA's standard, which has not been updated in more than twenty years. There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting that nuts are wholesome and nutritious. This is similar to other foods that do not meet the standard for use of the term healthy, but are generally considered to be good for you like avocados, salmon and eggs.”
Reducing sugar, gaining customers
The reduction of sugar will come by means the company believes will not compromise taste. Instead of using sweetened fruit, it will use unsweetened fruit. Yogurt coatings may have sugar reduced. Kind believes this will allow the flavor from the real ingredients “to take center stage”.
KIND LLC CEO Daniel Lubetzky said this snack is more than simply updating the recipe, but instead a move to “fulfill our brand promise of making snacks that are both nutritious and great-tasting."
Koerten said people often confuse snack bars for being extremely healthy snacks even without reading the ingredient list, but often, they’re only mildly healthier than candy bars. He believes this move from KIND could pay huge dividends for the brand.
“It also might draw consumers’ viewpoint to the nutrition label even more,” Koerten said. “KIND has a very natural image; people just assume it’s a healthy bar.
"But this might draw consumers to look at the label more closely and see how much sugar is in the bar and compare it to other bars. This could be helpful for the kind for people who are doing comparison shopping.”
Setting the tone
With KIND’s plan to reduce sugar, will competitors follow suit?
Koerten believes so, as he said other snack bar companies have taken to emulate what KIND does with their product launches, namely making the packaging transparent and making nuts and fruits in snack bars more prominent.
“There have been a lot of companies trying to ride on KIND’s back for success; they may have to do that here,” he said.
Koerten said with the consumer knowledge that KIND bars feature less sugar, there may be more pressure than ever on other snack bar companies to bring their sugar down as well. This is also part of the better-for-you movement in snacking, he said, as other packaged food companies are trying to become more natural on the labels.
For KIND, Koerten said this is another move with big potential for a company that has made many over its short time of existence.
“I think they're now near the top, or pretty close, in terms of snack bars and they’re trying to expand,” he said. “It’s pretty crazy how fast they’ve grown.”