Dollar sales of snack, nutrition, and performance bars have seen steady year-over-year growth (+20%) from 2012 through 2017 driven by consumer demand for convenient, clean label snacking options, according to Mintel market research. However, 2017 registered slower growth (+2.6%) compared to previous years.
“This slower pace of growth is expected to continue in the near future. While product innovation is on track, category players will need to emphasize bar strengths (eg convenience, indulgence) and address challenges (eg high sugar content),” said Beth Bloom, associate director of Mintel food & drink.
Taking note of the characteristics of the snack and energy bar category, Absolutely Gluten Free felt it could offer an alternative that didn’t rely on high fat or high-sugar nutritional profiles with the launch of TahiniBAR.
“We noticed a lot more of the same concepts in snack bars, high protein, nut bars etc. All with the same flavor profile and the same texture,” Kimberly Cassar, VP of marketing at Absolutely Gluten Free, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We knew that new flavors and textures would give consumers a new experience in snack bars.”
TahiniBAR is made from a base of roasted sesame seeds (a natural source of copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, molybdenum, and selenium) and weighs in at 100 calories per bar for a suggested retail price of $2.99 - $3.49 per 7-bar box available in three flavors: cacao nibs, pistachio, and vanilla.
The bars are dairy- and gluten-free as well as OU Kosher certified.
Middle Eastern flavors going mainstream?
Absolutely Gluten Free, which also makes crackers, flatbreads, and pizza products, created TahiniBAR to compete in the grab-and-go energy and snack bar category, where it knew it needed a unique edge to compete with other players in the space.
“For us it all started with the sesame seed, that’s why we called them ‘TahiniBars’. We felt that consumers would embrace an alternative to peanuts, cashews and even sunflower seeds,” Cassar said.
“We also know that tahini paste is a big trend in the vegan diet so we made sure to keep these bars vegan friendly.”
Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients such as tahini -- a condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame and typically served as a dip or major component of hummus-- are becoming more common in the US market driven by snack products, which have made the flavor profile more of an everyday snacking item rather than an occasional exotic meal.
Whole Foods Market also predicted at the end of 2017 that Middle Eastern culinary flavors and ingredients including tahini would become mainstream in 2018, incorporated into more snacking products such as Saffron Road Falafel Crunchy Chickpeas, Seed + Mill tahini and halva, Aphrodite Halloumi, 365 Everyday Value Organic Tahini, to name a few examples.
Tahini: ‘The next big thing’
Absolutely Gluten Free is planning to keep introducing new products featuring Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients.
“We have big plans for bringing all things tahini to the US market through new product innovations that will come to market in early 2019,” Cassar said.
“With the powerful nutritional benefits and the unique flavor profile of tahini we believe tahini will be the next big thing!”
So far, TahiniBAR has seen a strong response from independent natural food stores who have been early adopters of the product, according to Cassar.
Online sales through Amazon sparked by various food bloggers such as Hungry Girl mentioning the TahiniBAR has also spurred sales, she added.
“We will also be hitting the shelves of a major mass retailer this December so keep an eye out for us,” Cassar said.
Learn more about the snack and energy bar category at our FREE Snacking Trends webinar taking place next week on Wednesday, Sept. 26th! Register HERE.