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The rapidly rising market opportunities: Healthy Snack Bar

Table of Contents

Taste and convenience are the critical in the snack market, and snack bars have just been able to satisfy both, so the market has remained the industry’s latest windfall.

According to IRI Chicago, total sales of snack and cereal bars grew 2.4 percent to $6.4 billion in the 52 weeks ending Oct. 6, 2019.

“Chocolate bars are a must-have snack to meet consumers’ busy schedules, and it have wide varieties, including cereal bars, energy bars and sports bars, means it can meet everyone’s lifestyle needs.” said Harbinder Maan, associate director of trade marketing and management for the Almond Board in Modesto, Calif.

The largest product segment, nutritional health snack bars, grew 5.1 percent to $3.4 billion. CLIF Bar sales increased 4.2 percent to $472.4 million. Its CLIF Builders product line declined slightly, falling 0.2 percent to $103.1 million. revenue for the CLIF Kid line grew 32.3 percent to $76.9 million. Other notable sales results for other key brands in the segment included Atkins Nutritional, up 25.6% to $225.5 million, and its Atkins Endulge line, up 21.9% to $64.2 million. Sales of General Mills brand RXBAR increased 23.3% to $146.6 million.

Breakfast, cereal and snack bars also performed well this year, growing 4.7 percent to $1.4 billion. Kellogg’s led the way in this segment with moderate growth for its flagship brands, with Krispies Treats bars up 0.5 percent to $632.9 million and Nutri-Grain bars up 1.7 percent to $180.2 million. The newly launched Rice Krispies Treats Snap Crackle Poppers line earned $24.9 million in its first year on the market. KIND had a strong year in its major breakfast bar line, up 14.8% to $69.1 million, and its KIND Minis line had a good year, up 98.5% to $21.8 million.

Sales of the smaller “other snacks/cereal bars” rose 5.4% to $14.2 million. This segment is home to many emerging snack bar brands. Notably, Joyva sales increased 14.9 percent to $2.3 million and private brand sales increased 490.1 percent to $1.6 million.

Angela Bonnema, senior scientist at Cargill, said, “Snack bars have the flexibility to cover new dietary trends and introduce sku to meet consumers’ biggest areas of need. Today, you’ll see snack bars that meet a variety of consumer needs, from clean-label and high-protein to low-carb, keto, vegan and plant-based. Snack bars meet these consumer needs as a portable, easy-to-consume product.”

Brad Schwan, senior director of marketing, snacks, bakery and cereals at ADM Chicago, noted that the benefits of the bars also include consumers viewing snacking as part of a healthy lifestyle and a convenient way to provide nutrition. “Many consumers are also increasingly focused on their personal health needs, and they are looking for snacks that not only satisfy their tastes, but also contain the right combination of features to help them feel better from the inside and outside.”

01.Nutritional Ingredients

Schwan says consumers prefer foods that contain added nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, probiotics and reducing sugars. Protein, of course, remains the top choice for chocolate bars.

Whey and soy are still widely used, but plant-based proteins like peas, beans and lentils continue to gain traction, Bonnema explained, because these types of ingredients also tend to fit into today’s biggest product trends, such as non-GMO, organic, sustainable, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and label-friendly. They are also easier to formulate than ever before, she said.

Joe Katterfield, manager of health and performance nutrition development at Arla Foods Ingredients, said the number of brands of milk protein is also on the rise. “Milk protein contains all the essential amino acids, is neutral in taste and powerful, and can easily be made into high-protein chocolate with good taste or texture.” The company’s Lacprodan SoftBar ingredient can provide up to 37 percent protein.

The common allergen-free protein also appeals to brands that try to differentiate between different allergens and attracts a large group of consumers who seek it out for a variety of reasons (including exercise recovery, weight management).

Jeff Smith, director of marketing for the global ingredients division of Blue Diamond Almonds in Sacramento, California, notes that demand for almond protein powder, which is used to make almond bars, and almond butter, which provides about 45 percent of the protein, is increasing. Almond protein powder is also an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, calcium, fiber and copper.

Fiber will become an even more important nutrient in this category as it becomes a mainstream phenomenon to consume and evaluate foods for positive digestive and other related health benefits,” Schwan said. Prebiotics and probiotics are also emerging in snack bar products as consumers take an active interest in microbes and their overall impact on health, from improving mental health to helping with inflammation and promoting skin health.”

02.Whole Food Ingredients

Pilar Arellano, director of marketing at Nature’s Bakery, said consumers place a high value on knowing what’s in their snacks, which has led to a demand for more transparency about the ingredients used, including more purposeful and nutritious ingredients such as whole grains and fruits. She noted that when consumers are looking for purer ingredients in their food, they want whole food ingredients like dates or applesauce.

In an effort to balance indulgent and clean labels, the brand offers chocolate bars, whole grains, cocoa and dates. Its cereal bar is also made with oats, fruit and dates, but for those looking for breakfast on the go, it has 3 grams of fiber and 14 grams of whole grains. Healthy snacks don’t have to be bland and tasteless. To stand out, product developers can add tasty ingredients to their products to ensure consumers like them. This chocolate bar comes in pumpkin, cherry, lemon and strawberry flavors.

Jennifer Williams, marketing director for the California Walnut Council, said …… “Whole food nutrition is one of the dominant trends in chocolate bars, which is why we’re seeing so many nut-dense bars on store shelves. As with most foods, consumers want them. However, in the snack bar category, manufacturers can actually offer whole-food ingredients by using the flavors and nutrients that consumers love.” She noted that walnuts contain protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which also enhance taste.

As consumers increasingly seek healthier snacking options, product developers are looking for ‘hero ingredients’ that reflect consumer demand for plant-based and clean-label products,” Maan said. Almond’s healthful aura continues to make it a popular ingredient for chocolate, as it is available in 15 diverse forms, allowing developers to adjust the texture. For example, chewy, crunchy and creamy textures are attractive and can benefit from almond protein powder, almond butter or natural almonds. Each 30 grams of almonds contains essential vitamins and minerals, 6 grams of protein, 3.8 grams of fiber and 9 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat.”


Snack bars offer great flavor, too, which is important – especially when consumers use them to satisfy a candy craving. But product developers shouldn’t get too hung up on it.

I think there are two categories that are becoming increasingly important,” Katterfield explains. The first category offers ‘healthier indulgences. The second type of chocolate bar contains no artificial ingredients, but is also rich in protein. As a result, the consumer base has expanded to include non-athletes looking for a healthier snack, as well as consumers looking for a convenient way to supplement their protein to enhance their recreational workouts. Both of these groups consume chocolate bars for health-related reasons.”

Mark Stavro, senior director of marketing for Chesterfield, Missouri-based Bunge Loders Croklaan, said one way to balance these needs is to put a little icing on the candy and let consumers indulge a little. Flavor remains a key driver when consumers are looking for healthier packaged goods. He noted that the three-year growth rate for coated chocolate is four times that of uncoated chocolate, indicating growing consumer interest. In addition, he said, brands offering coated chocolate may be charging higher prices.

Bonnema also suggests focusing on some special diets. Snack bars that cater to specific diets, such as the keto diet, will continue to appeal to consumers.

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