Kerry unveils new trends in snack bar development

Choosing the Right Protein for Your Snack Bar research white paper provides protein bar and snack manufacturers with the information to guide their development of protein bars to address this expanding market.

Kerry has released a research white paper on the topic of protein snack bar development and manufacture. Entitled Choosing the Right Protein for Your Snack Bar, the paper examines the expanding market for snack bars that provide a quality hit of protein and a wide variety of new tastes. In addition, the paper reviews the latest trends in consumer preference in the area of ingredients and bar tastes, important trends and regional regulations in formulation, and the application of plant, dairy and mixed protein in new bar concepts.

“Snackification” – the movement towards snacking versus eating distinct meals – had already been on the rise prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading consumers to begin paying attention to the nutritional value of snacks. Since the onset of the pandemic, however, consumers have started to feel more vulnerable; this, in turn, has accelerated a desire to incorporate more healthier foods into their diets as a means to support long-term health goals. Throughout this pandemic, Kerry has saw the public rushing to stock up on snacks, whether for a quick and convenient source of nutrition or to provide comfort during these challenging times.

Breaking it down further, the appeal of protein specifically – a nutritional element in health and wellness – has led sales of snack bars with “high” or “added” protein claims to grow exponentially as a category; in 2019 alone, the sector was valued at US$6 billion, said Kerry. The company further revealed that the global snack bar launches featuring high or added protein have moved from 17% in 2015 to 33% in 2019.

Mindy Leveille, strategic marketing manager – proteins, Kerry, said: “We believe the upward trend in demand for protein-fortified snacks will continue over the long term, driven by rejuvenated consumer interest in healthy eating and underpinned by dynamic innovation in the category. With new sources of protein being discovered continually and new tastes and delivery formats constantly being innovated, snack bars’ fortunes have taken a noticeable turn upward.

“Sales of snack bars with high or added protein claims continue to rise as consumers respond to a ‘feel good’ factor around purchasing snacks that pack an additional nutritional punch. Consumers everywhere recognise the value of protein in snack-size portions, and protein-added snack bars are a quick and convenient way for busy people to get a tasty nutrition boost. Our R&D white paper provides a treasure trove of information designed to assist bar manufacturers as they search for just the right protein for their snack bar formulations.”

Kerry pointed out some considerations for bar product development to keep top of mind: consumers want alternative plant protein sources; also, there is a growing trend towards flexitarian proteins bars – hybrids that incorporates both plant and animal protein. While sustainability in manufacturing is valued, according to Mintel, it is also a fact that as many as 75% of consumers believe taste is the “most important factor” when purchasing a protein product. This is a concern for high-protein content bars, as surveys have revealed that those with health claims are less likely to be perceived as “good tasting” compared to products without such assertions.

“There are many emerging ingredients and flavours to apply in protein snack bars, ranging from coffee cold brew to mango to tomato and basil, with the latter being a savoury alternative to sweet cereal bars,” Leveille added. “Our white paper presents a number of protein bar concepts to provide inspiration to bar developers for their next new product development.”

Having a clean label is another important concern for consumers, and the advent of new and alternative proteins heralds an opportunity for snack bar manufacturers to innovate and benefit by adopting similar, clean label formulations. This is important for protein bars with high sugar content or those that have been highly processed. Brands are now being pressured to reformulate with simpler ingredients, and to be more transparent about on-pack information.