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Nutrition bars targeting the mainstream market

15 July, 2013

The nutrition bars sector continues to enjoy rising levels of interest, in line with or even ahead of the market for cereal bars as a whole.

Growth in the sector has reflected rising interest in healthy and convenient snacks suitable for consumption on-the-go.

New product activity levels in the cereal bars sector are relatively high overall, reflecting the variety of formats, ingredients and target markets available. The total number of global launches recorded by Innova Market Insights continued to rise in the 12 months to the end of April 2013.

"While convenience is the leading positioning for cereal bars overall, used on over 90 per cent of total launches in the sector, health has also been a key driver," Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, said.

"This is not only in terms of the importance of nutrition and performance bars, but also in the perception of offering a healthier snack alternative to products such as confectionery, biscuits and cakes."

Over three-quarters of global launches in the 12 months to the end of April 2013 were positioned on a health platform of some kind, ranging from "passive health" (i.e. natural, organic, low calorie, etc.) to "active health" launches (i.e. vitamin-fortified, digestive health, weight management, etc.). This rises to over 90 per cent in Australasia, just under 85 per cent in the US and to just two-thirds in Asia.

Just over 22 per cent of global cereal bar launches were marketed on a sports/recovery and/or energy/alertness positioning, down from just under half in 2005, when launches of bars with a sports or energy positioning peaked. This indicates how interest in the market has moved to new areas, most notably a more general positioning as an anytime nutritious snack or meal replacement.

The most popular health claims overall in the cereal bars sector concern clean-label options, with 27 per cent of launches recorded by Innova Market Insights using an additive-/preservative-free or natural claims or both, rising to over 38 per cent if organic claims are also included. Interest in fibre content is also high, with 25 per cent of introductions featuring high-fibre or source of fibre claims, rising to over 31 per cent if wholegrain claims are added. Low and light claims (i.e. low in fat, calories and/or sugar) were also popular, used on over one-fifth of launches.

For Williams, dynamic growth in the market over the past decade is largely attributable to a move to mainstream. Nutrition and performance lines are now much more widely available and consumed on a more casual basis, by an increasing range of consumers looking for healthier and more portable snacks for active lifestyles.

"The cross-pollination between more specialist nutrition and performance bars on the one hand and more mainstream cereal and snack bars on the other, has been key to continued growth in the market as a whole," Williams said.

"Healthier ingredients and formulations adding value to the standard bars market, while improved taste profiles, more indulgent flavours and a more everyday lifestyle positioning support the desired nutritional properties in the performance sector."

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