Euromonitor International forecasts the protein bar category to remain a favourite for consumers as a quick snack to quell their carb-cravings, along with being something that is something more than just a simple snack, but can adds to their health – particularly those living active lifestyles.
The pandemic, without a doubt, placed our health at the forefront of consumers’ minds, but a global trend study conducted last year by HealthFocus Interntional found that 55% of consumers still say it is hard to find indulgent snacks they believe are healthy.
This means the already crowded bar category is expected to come even more competitive and manufacturers will be seeking out innovate ways to offer consumers what they want.
The power of peanuts
One increasingly featured ingredient is peanut butter, which is familiar to consumers; is considered natural and packed with nutrition – in fact, Plumpy’Nut is a peanut-based paste used by the UN to fight severe malnutrition in the poorest regions of the world – and still delivers great taste and a velvety texture. Peanut butter also ticks a number of trend boxes, being plant-based, gluten-free and clean label.
However, the use of a soft nut butter base in protein bars raises a formulation issue of the bars possibly hardening over time, which will obviously affect mouthfeel and shelf life.
To overcome the formulation challenge, Arla Foods Ingredients has developed a dairy and whey protein, which paired with creamy peanut butter, will retain the bar’s indulgent eating experience and provide a 37% protein content to enable manufacturers to make high protein and high fibre claims.
“The demand for healthy indulgence is especially apparent in the bar category. Nutritional value, protein content in particular, is more important than ever, but products that don’t deliver an enjoyable consumer experience won’t be purchased a second time – especially when there are so many alternatives available,” said Joe Katterfield, sales development manager, Health & Performance Nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients.
According to the ingredients specialist, the concept also work well in maltitol-free bars and has performed well in shelf life stability tests. It can be used as is, or as a basis with different flavour combinations or nut butter varieties.