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Healthier snacking raises the nutritional bar

The business of nutritional bars is booming, with 9-of-the-top-10 brands trending at a double-digit annual growth rate. And that one bar not growing in double digits is the No. 1-selling bar — General Mills’ Fiber One — by a margin of more than $60 million in annual sales. Sales of Fiber One are up 7.3%, according to SymphonyIRI Group for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 4 across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart).

Some of that significant growth can be attributed to increased interest in healthier snacking, which may explain why Clif’s mainstay bar, No. 2 in the category, contributed by far the most incremental annual dollar growth (more than $17 million). According to a February 2011 Mintel report, young adults are consuming the most nutrition and energy bars as meal-replacement solutions, and older adults are looking to nutrition bars as a healthy way to improve their overall diet.

The substantial growth is attracting new players. Joint Juice recently announced its acquisition of the Premier Nutrition Brand as that company’s entry into the sports nutrition and weight-loss category. “What is especially exciting about the brand is the wide breadth of consumers who purchase high-quality protein products, ranging from sports enthusiasts to dieters to healthy, busy people,” stated David Ritterbush, Joint Juice CEO, in announcing the acquisition.

And at least one of those new players is targeting pharmacy-friendly disease-state niches. NuGo Nutrition recently introduced a diabetic-friendly meal-replacement bar product line called NuGo Slim. The line is being billed as the first almost-sugar-free, high-protein bar made without maltitol or artificial sweeteners — the 2 g of sweet goodness comes naturally from real dark chocolate, the company stated.

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