Showcasing at the NACS Show in Chicago recently (October 17 to 20), the PowerBar range includes original, barbecue and teriyaki flavors, with each bar containing 10g of protein.
Combining jerky and nuts
According to Nick Stiritz, senior brand manager at premier nutrition (Post Holdings’ sports nutrition portfolio), the reason these products were launched was to cover the “the two categories that are on fire currently ... the bar space where we play in is growing 8-10% year-over-year, and jerky, which is growing at a similar pace.
“No bar has successfully brought these two categories together in a format that’s widely appealing to consumers,” he said.
“There are trail mixes that kind of get it and also more meat-only bars coming to the market.”
PowerBar conducted consumer test on its jerky nut bars and said the products beat all category benchmarks regarding taste and sensory aspects.
“We’ve been able to unlock what has been on so many people’s radars for a long time,” Stiritz said. “From a consumer standpoint, there is a high degree of overlap between athletes and [shoppers] looking for a more wholesome, natural and simplified ingredients list.”
The company plans to roll out the jerky nut bars to all channels across the US in March next year.
“We will see a big play in the convenience channel, which is an area of strength for PowerBar,” said Stiritz. “C-store is an impulse channel, so we’re partnering with retailers to make sure that we’re connecting with the consumer when they are making that decision.”
Nurturing an established brand
When athlete Brian Maxwell and his wife Jennifer started PowerBar 30 years ago in Berkeley, California, they also created the energy bar category in the US, contended Stiritz.
“[The founders] sold it to Nestlé Foods [in 2000], and two years ago, Post Holdings purchased PowerBar and reinvigorated it. Since then, reconnecting with the brand’s roots has been our core mission,” he added.
But the question is: why did Post Holdings decide to acquire an established brand rather than following the current trend of CPG firms scooping up startup brands, such as Hershey’s acquisition of Krave Jerky and Kellogg’s and RXBar?
“When you’re seeking acquisitions, you’re looking for growth. For newer startups and emerging brands, there is a big potential growth curve because they have great products in the making … but you have to build the brand to make that happen,” said Stiritz.
“PowerBar is a little bit different,” he added. “It has been around for a while, and in a certain way, has become a category generic. There hadn’t been a lot of ‘groundbreaking innovations’ to keep up with the times of the rapid expansion of the bar category. Post's strategy is to breathe new life into the brand and send it off on that growth curve.”
However, Stiritz acknowledged the challenge comes with consumers’ preconceived notions about PowerBar, which might make it difficult to expand its offerings.
“With any acquisition, there is no guarantee that your bet is going to pay off or whether there is a significant due diligence around ensuring that we could have a strategy [to grow the brand],” he said.
He added PowerBar’s growing sales figures reaffirmed that Post Holdings’ initial investment was valuable.
"We continue to be ‘bullish’ on the prospect of the brand.”