Exo’s launch of savory insect-based nutrition bars marries two small, but high-profile snack trends

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Exo launchs savory insect-based nutrition bars
Two relatively small, but high-profile snack categories are merging with the Nov. 4 launch of Exo’s savory meal bars with alternative protein from crickets. 

The marriage of the nascent savory bar and edible insect categories brings forth three new choices from Exo: mango curry, barbecue and Mediterranean – all of which tout only 5 or 6 grams of sugar and 11 grams of protein per 2.1 ounce bar.

This is significantly less sugar than many competing nutrition bars and less than the company’s original line of bars made with cricket flour, which each include 14 grams of sugar and come in apple cinnamon, blueberry vanilla, cocoa nut and peanut butter and jelly.

While the bars have less sugar, they still have notable amounts of fat and sodium – weighing in with 17-18 grams of fat and 270-330 mg of sodium. This is slightly higher than that of competing savory bars made by Mediterra, which have 6-8 grams of fat and 130-220 mg of sodium per a smaller 1.23 ounce bar. 

The new line also is notable because it was created by an all-star team of developers, including the well-recognized food scientist Ali Bouzari, Momofuku veteran Dan Felder and Kyle Connaughton, who formally headed three-Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck.

The team opted for the three savory flavors to meet growing consumer demand for high-protein and low-sugar snacks, according to the New York based firm. For support, it pointed to a global Nielsen survey that found one-third of respondents in 2014 said they wanted low-sugar snacks and 37% who said they wanted higher-protein snacks.

More recently released research from Euromonitor​ further supports the company is on the right track with savory bars. An analyst for Euromonitor predicted earlier this year that sales of snack bars are outpacing all other snack categories with a projected increase of 20% in 2019. Sales of savory snacks also are predicted to grow 17% by 2019. 

Exo’s entrance into the savory bar category follows that of KIND and Savory Harvest​, which launched savory bars at Natural Products Expo West in March, and the more recent expansion of Mediterra’s savory bar line up​ at Natural Products Expo East in late September after the firm helped establish the category the prior year.

While the savory bar category is becoming more crowded, executives at the trailblazing firm Mediterra say there is still plenty of white space in the new segment and that the addition of more players in the space will help raise consumer awareness to the benefit of all in the category.

Even as savory snacks rise in prominence, there is still plenty of room for indulgent snacks, which still hold the favor of most consumers, according to IRI data​. 

Edible insects category is growing

Exo’s new line of bars, like its existing sweet versions, also tap into another small but quickly growing trend: edible insects.

Exo launched its sweet bars in March 2014​ and from the start the company struggled to fill the surprising demand for the bars, which were created to highlight cricket flour as a sustainable, alternative source of power. 

While Exo is a major player in the edible insect category, it is far from alone. In 2014, at least eight companies launched in the space, up from seven the year before and five the year before that, according to Daniel Imrie-Situnayake, co-founder of Tiny Farms, Inc., which also sells insect-based foods. He noted at Food Vision USA in Chicago Oct. 29 that Time Magazine now cites edible insects as a top three food trend in 2015.

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