According to The Hartman Group, about half of all eating occasions are now categorized as ‘snacking.’ Our 24/7 lives no longer seem to be able to accommodate three square meals. Snacking, which used to be occasional, is replacing meals. Along the way in this transition, the expectation for snacks morphed from fun foods to nutritional foods. And this makes sense, if we’re considering snacks as meals—they should be nutritious and provide energy, etc.
Recently a reporter asked me about trends in bars…it got me thinking about this whole snacking thing, and how bars epitomize the snacking into meal transition. Bars as a category go back to the 1980s, if not earlier, when they were mostly aimed at providing energy and protein to endurance athletes. Frankly they didn’t taste all that great, but that wasn’t really the point. A lot has happened in the category since then. To give a little context—according to the market research organization, Mintel—bar market sales will top $6 billion by 2020.
The market expanded from sports bars to cereal bars to meal replacement and lifestyle ones. For years though, bars were pretty much the same either baked cereal or protein-packed with whey or soy and pressed together with few distinguishable ingredients—lots of carbs and lots of sweeteners. That’s no longer the case. Every day seems to bring a new ingredient, flavor, format or label claim—from crickets to meat and organic, vegan, non-GMO to refrigerated with probiotics and ancient grains. All the same trends seen in the wider food and beverage industry are reflected in the bar segment and that includes simple, recognizable ingredients on the label and in the package—fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables.
With all this innovation in the sector, Euromonitor International reported, value sales of snack bars increased 5 percent in 2016 and 30 percent between 2011 and 2016. Leading bar segment sales, energy bars and fruit and nut bars had value sales increases of 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in 2016.
Consumers’ demand for healthier foods continues to be a key deciding factor when choosing what they eat. Fruit-based products tap into the demand for healthier options that still taste great. Tree Top offers more fruits in more forms than any other supplier on earth. Our expertise in transforming fresh fruits into unique and cost-effective ingredients is what makes Tree Top a leading supplier to the snack industry. In fact, many bars in the market today use dried fruit for water binding, and fruit puree for humectancy. Also under the new FDA labeling guidelines, these types of fruit ingredients – add sweetness, without having to be counted as “added sugar.” Just goes to show—any meal or snack is enhanced by fruit.