The Trend for 2017: You may have noticed that the number of supermarket shelves dedicated to protein bars keeps on growing. The sections are so big that some are wondering if they’re getting too big. Well, there’s good news this week for the creators of bars everywhere. The latest research shows that the enormous growth in the bar industry reflects soaring demand for bars as consumer interest in other snack and breakfast categories (like cereal) wanes. The growth in bar demand is so fast, in fact, that both big incumbent brands and new entrepreneurs to the bar business are enjoying phenomenal success.
Reporting from The Chicago Tribune & Packaged Facts
The proof is in the numbers. According to market researcher Packaged Facts, US nutrition bar and protein bar sales are expected to increase powerfully in the next few years -- to a whopping $8 billion in 2019. Big and small companies alike are reaping the benefits. As of mid-2016, long-standing key market player, Larabar, has enjoyed phenomenal 40 percent growth in year-on-year sales. Meanwhile, relative newcomer, Quest Bars, have seen sales climb by a jaw-dropping 80 percent year-on-year.
The demand is coming in no small part from the fact that American consumers are replacing their sit-down breakfast cereal bowls with on-the-go bars. Indeed, The Chicago Tribune just published an article on the phenomenon that kicked off saying: “U.S. sales of breakfast cereals have turned as flat as soggy corn flakes amid heightened concerns among consumers about cereal’s nutrition and lack of convenience.” Sales of cold and hot cereals combined are expected to total just $10.6 billion this year – down a devastating 17 percent from $12.7 billion in 2009, the research firm IBIS World estimates.
What’s happening? “Shoppers are looking for high protein, fiber content and natural ingredients,” says Market Researcher Mintel, “Consumers today believe cereal is overly processed and doesn’t contain enough nutrients.” In other words: from a nutritional standpoint, consumers are looking for what protein bars offer (and not what cereal dishes out).
The Tribune also sees convenience as a key factor for the rise of the bar. “Americans don’t necessarily have the time to enjoy a sit-down breakfast anymore and they’re looking for portability,” Amanda Topper, food analyst at Mintel tells the Tribune. Rory Masterson, who tracks the snack industry for IBIS World, adds: “People see eating cereal as time-consuming because it’s not something you can do on the go, like eating a protein bar.”
The moral? It looks like grocery stores are going to need to clear even more space for nutrition bars!