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The snack bar category continues to prove to be particularly innovative and dynamic, on account of its responsiveness to health trends and the mix of large multinationals and small start-ups that operate within it. The competitive dynamic within the category continues to shift; once dominated by breakfast cereal brands, a range of brands from adjacent snack categories have moved into snack bars in a bid to increase their better-for-you portfolios. Examples include confectionery giants Mars and Hershey, meat jerky companies, biscuit, fruit juice and even health and beauty brands. As a result, the traditional granola bar that once dominated the category has been replaced by an enormous variety of formats including grain-less, savoury, meat and insect bars.

Dietary trends have had a major transformative influence on the snack bar category. Brands are now catering to a range of dietary preferences. Gluten-free, vegan and GMO-free lead the claims that are prominent globally, however, other claims such as lactose free, raw and paleo have also made an impact. Fruit-based bars such as those popularised by Nakd in the UK and Castus in Scandinavia are playing a bigger role in the category. This format utilises fruit as both binder and sweetener enabling such snack bars to make “no added sugar” claims which resonate with an increasingly sugar-wary consumer.

Demand for snack bars with protein content has been sustained, but the way it is delivered is changing. The performance bar segment has seen increased demand for less processed sources of protein. As a result, snack bars containing organic whey protein have emerged, and there has been increased use of plant-based protein sources including pea, soy, rice and hemp. For mainstream consumers, there has been a spate of snack bar launches that contain just a moderate amount of protein per bar, between five to seven grams. These snack bars generally contain wholegrains and offer more balanced nutrition for mainstream consumers and children.

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