‘Do we really need another snack bar?’ asks Rabobank

The snack bar as a product has many attributes playing in its favor, making it a popular point of entry to the food industry for young entrepreneurs or a second career choice for ex-bankers, Fereday told FoodNavigator-USA.

“In some ways, snack bars are the perfect platform. They’re highly portable, there are tons of contract manufacturers, they’re very multifunctional, and multipurpose. And it is always a surprise of what’s new,”​ he said, referring to the days of walking the floor at industry trade shows where there was no shortage of companies promoting their latest bar innovation.

But, as Fereday asks in his latest report, Talking Points: Peak Bar​, what is the real market opportunity looking ahead? 

The pandemic highlighted that consumers will move away from certain product segments that no longer serve them in their new day-to-day routines. As a result, the bar category took a hit last year, with consumers at home and less on-the-go behavior.  

According to CircleUp data (from Nielsen), after several years (2017-2019) of low to flat growth, the overall bar category saw retail sales dip by 8% in 2020 compared to the year prior. Single-serve bars were down 20% in 2020, and registered 40% sales declines at the beginning of the pandemic (April and May 2020).

More concerning, notes Fereday, is that there doesn’t seem to be as much of a return to retail growth in 2021. 

“We know that snacks by definition are impulse buys, and at-home eating is a bit more planned. I don’t think the bar category has pivoted that well,”​ notes Fereday. 

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