Protein in bars - A merging of markets.

A different definition of a protein bar

The interest in protein has been so significant, it has blurred (or merged) the lines between markets and challenged many of the existing stereotypes.

Protein has become such a macro trend, that all nutrition and cereal bars are broadening their range to include high protein options. In fact, 54% of all new bars in the EU (last 6 months) make a protein claim, whilst protein is in the top two claims for nutrition and cereal bars. Consumers have more choice. And what constitutes a protein bar has extended beyond the norm, building an appeal to a wider range of consumers. 

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘traditional’ protein bars are attempting to become more mainstream. For example, where there used to be a large focus on hitting 20g of protein, the importance now is simply the inclusion of protein. The look and feel of protein bars has also shifted away from the heavy sports positioning and now more towards a mainstream, active lifestyle occasion. Grenade is an example of where they created their ‘Carb Killa Go Nuts’ bar which is more of a wholefoods based bar compared to their original Carb Killa. Needless to say, this product’s lifespan was short and is no longer available, demonstrating the difficulty of existing brands diversifying their product range.

Understanding brand permission

Currently, it is rare for brands to offer all types of bar. Brands seem to be stereotyped as either one or the other (protein vs nutrition) with some, such as Grenade, recognised for a single, bestselling product. There are hybrid brands, like RXBar, who have a sports nutrition background but with a formulation based on wholefoods. They remain relatively unique.

So What?

Arguably, protein is the single most important factor to have broadened the appeal of healthy snacking. It is no longer the domain of the traditional protein bar, but a much larger range of choices that offer a variety of benefits and different approaches to how a consumer defines ‘healthy’. It continues to drive a meteoric shift in the sports and active nutrition landscape towards a more lifestyle-based product. Although other macro and micro trends are prevalent in the bar market, protein remains at the forefront of new product development and is a trend that does not show any signs of slowing.