The company’s latest edition of its report, 'Nutritional and Cereal Bars in the US'*, notes that, over the past decade, three out of the four breakfast-type foods with the fastest-growing popularity were healthy, portable snacks such as cereal bars.
David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts, research direct, notes the widespread popularity of nutritional and cereal bars beyond breakfast – between 2009 and 2014 the number of adults using nutritional bars increased 11%, while 44% of adults used cereal/granola bars in 2014.
Granola growth excites
From 2004 to 2014, Packaged Facts reports, the number of households using cereal bars increased 50% and the number consuming chewy granola (a category including granola bars) rose 33%.
The popularity of granola also grew substantially, with nearly 80% more households consuming it, while the number of households using cold cereal was up by only 4%, and traditional breakfast foods such as bacon, sausage and eggs barely kept pace with adult population growth.
Packaged Facts says it expects sales of nutritional and cereal/granola bars to benefit from a broad range of trends affecting Americans’ eating habits, including a permanent shift away from ‘three square meals a day’ to snacking and more smaller meals eaten throughout the day.
“Nutritional and cereal bars present an efficient platform for packaged food engineers to respond to the very latest in food concerns of healthy eating consumers”, Packaged Facts states.
Bars provide an attractive means by which food marketers can offer alternative, exotic sources of protein, bold, exciting flavors, ingredients with an ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ health halo and functional ingredients targeting specific health concerns – weight management, say, or the gluten-free trend.
Nutrition bars for ‘female boomers’
“Nutrition bars, which have achieved torrid sales in recent years, provide an especially appropriate platform to deliver the kind of dense nutrition today’s consumers crave, and search for in sources such as ancient grains and healthy seeds – including quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, chia and flaxseed.”
While noting that 18-34 year old males are the heaviest users of nutrition bars – traditional the segment grew here as fitness buffs sought fast energy or meal replacer, Packaged Facts says women of all ages represent the next four largest demographic usage groups, with ‘female boomers’ and women aged 65+ increasingly important targets for marketers.
“Ultimately, the overall market for snack bars, including both nutritional and cereal/granola bars, is projected to approach $8bn in 2019,” Packaged Facts says.
“This represents cumulative growth of 30% and a compound annual growth rate of 5%.”
*The report uses data from an online consumer survey of 2,000+ US adults in November 2014, Simmons NCS data for summer 2014 from Experian and IRI retail sales figures.