New product experts Lynn Dornblaser and Morgan McClure from Mintel recently came to the Tree Top campus to give a trend presentation, which focused on the bar market. Thought I’d share some of their top-line insights on what’s influencing this category and what Mintel’s data shows as growth opportunities in the short-term and long-term.
First here’s what to expect in the year ahead –
Plants, plants and more plants – while the majority of bars have always been mainly plant-based, there’s a move toward different plant-based protein sources and bars that are exclusively plant-based or vegan. We’re also in for more high protein offerings. Watch as the search continues for the next hot plant protein to emerge. Soy and pea proteins will fade to the background as more novel options take root, e.g., fava beans, watermelon seeds, hemp, lupine, and tara.
FAST STAT: 38% of U.S. consumers are trying to add more plant-based foods into their diets
Simplicity – new protein sources may be entering the mix, but simple and natural continue to reign with consumers. That means reducing added sugars, minimal processing, cleaner labels and well understood and well-liked ingredients like fruit and nuts.
Sensory stimulation – bars will deliver new sensory experiences by introducing unique flavors, textures, formats and combinations thereof. Mintel says flavor innovation in bars is led by the golden trifecta of fruit, nuts and chocolate. Yet one in five consumers is willing to explore beyond this trio of favorites. Flavor experimentation is materializing with sweet & salty combos (e.g., pretzels and caramel) and savory ingredients from seaweed to vegetables and herbs. Meanwhile multi-layered bars are adding a new textural element to the bar eating experience.
2022: Jumping further ahead, how will evolving trends impact the bar market?
Wellbeing – functional ingredients with specific benefits for mental and physical wellbeing will infiltrate the market as nutrition science advances. Cognitive health, energy, digestive health, stress relief – bars will incorporate whole food ingredients with fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, adaptogens and more. Not so much foods as medicine but mindfulness of the natural properties of wholesome ingredients. You are what you eat.
Ingredient inroads – Mintel suggests we may see hydrolyzed collagen as an ingredient for beauty from the inside out. Fiber is another notable ingredient with potential as consumers look to increase their fiber intake for myriad benefits. More than a third of consumers look to bars as a source of added fiber in their diet.
Alternate format – We’ve seen bars being offered in the refrigerator case. In future they may move into the freezer section either as alternatives to other frozen treats or as another snack offering.
2025 & beyond: Developing for the future
Next Gen functional ingredients – the body of nutritional science continues to expand alongside microbiome research. Exciting times are ahead for functional ingredients and customized nutrition.
Ultra eco-friendly bars – Gen Z is just now reaching adulthood. Their influence will only continue to shape the food scene. That means climate-friendly and planet-friendly products will be more in demand. This includes choosing ingredients and packaging that are sustainable.
Brands with purpose – This ties in with products that are good for the planet. Consumers, particularly young consumers are motivated by mission-driven brands. A higher purpose is an important and distinguishing buying consideration for the younger consumers who are just beginning to influence the market in a big way.
A final thought for your product inspiration…
Tree Top apple flake powder (13g to 15g/100g of fiber) is an ingredient that checks many of the boxes mentioned in this trend outlook – fruit, prebiotic fiber, digestive health benefits, clean label, sustainably grown by a brand owned by hard-working, mindful farmers who loathe waste and have a great respect for the environment.