Sustainability and ingredient simplification are seen as important, but taste quality still influences consumers most
Kerry has released a research white paper on the topic of protein snack bar development and manufacture, titled “Choosing the Right Protein for Your Snack Bar”.
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 bar concepts.
The appeal of protein specifically 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 $6bn, Kerry says. Globally, snack bar launches featuring high/added protein have moved from 17% in 2015 to 33% in 2019.
“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/delivery formats constantly being innovated, snack bars’ fortunes have taken a noticeable turn upward,” said Mindy Leveille, Strategic Marketing Manager, Proteins, Kerry.
There are a couple of considerations for bar product development to keep top of mind, Kerry says. While sustainability in manufacturing is certainly valued, according to Mintel, 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 tasting good versus comparable products without such assertions.
“There are many emerging ingredients and flavors to apply in protein snack bars, ranging from coffee cold brew to mango to tomato & basil, with the latter being a savory alternative to sweet cereal bars,” said Leveille. “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 alternative proteins heralds an opportunity for snack bar manufacturers to innovate and benefit by adopting simpler, clean label formulations. This is especially 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.