Snack bar sales are growing, with more time-crunched consumers using cereal bars as snacks and meal replacements.
Increased snacking trends and consumers’ busy lifestyles are transforming the traditional breakfast to a more on-the-go eating occasion, opening the door to increased opportunity for innovation in the snack bar sector.
For 2018, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, reported total breakfast, cereal and snack bar sales in U.S. convenience stores jumped 4.9% to $189.64 million. Unit sales also increased 1.2% to 142.31 million units sold in c-stores. Kellogg and General Mills both saw sales and unit growth combining for seven of the top 10 bar SKUs. The average price of a bar in 2018 was $1.33.
The overall outlook for the category is equally strong. According to a new report from Packaged Facts, the market for snack bars across all retail, including both nutritional and cereal/granola bars, is projected to reach $8 billion by the end of 2019.
The “Nutritional and Cereal Bars in the U.S.” report found between 2004 and 2014 the number of households using cereal bars increased 50% and the number consuming chewy granola (category that includes granola bars) increased 33%.
The popularity of granola also grew substantially, with nearly 80% more households using it. At the same time, the number of households using cold cereal was up by only 4%. Meanwhile other traditional breakfast foods such as bacon, sausage and eggs barely kept up with the growth in the adult population.
Beyond breakfast, nutritional and cereal bars have gained a general widespread popularity. Between 2009 and 2014 the number of adults using nutritional bars increased 11%. In addition, around 44% of adults used cereal/granola bars in 2014. Bars are an easy way for consumers to stop eating three meals a day at set times and to start eating smaller portions of food throughout the day, whether they are on the go or at home.
Product manufacturers also must consider new nutritional demands from the increasingly health-conscious consumer. Bars provide an attractive way for food marketers to offer alternative, exotic sources of protein; bold, exciting flavors; ingredients with a health halo resulting from their organic and “natural” characteristics.