Description

Understand the current market and opportunities within the food bars category in the US market. Use Mintel’s research on snack, nutritional, and performance bars to become more informed and tackle challenges in your industry. This report examines the food bar buying habits of US consumers, trends among age groups, opportunities for brands in the food bar market, and much more. Read on to discover our insights.

For the purpose of this page, “food bar” refers to snack, nutrition, and performance bars. See “Covered in this Report” for more info.

Food Bar Market Overview

Though food and drink prices are weighing heavily on US consumers, food bars are well-placed to weather the storm. Mintel’s research finds that more than two-thirds of US adults anticipate buying the same or more bars in 2023, and a quarter of those attribute the desire to buy more affordable food as the motivator for increased purchases.

The food bar market has risen far above the hardships of recent years, with estimated growth in the double digits for 2022. Food bars have been positioned effectively through the pandemic as having functional benefits and as a convenient at-home food, and these communications persist effectively amid hybrid work, financial stress, and general fatigue.

Our findings in this report indicate that the ease, affordability, health, and versatility of food bars will drive another year of strong growth through 2023 before a brief period of temporary recalibration driven by price stabilization and returning competition. Long-term success will be granted to brands that continue to apply what they learned amid turbulent times, aligning with evolving and shifting needs, occasions, and lifestyles.

  • Food bar market share: General Mills Inc leads the way with 22.1% market share, followed by 15% for Kellogg Co.

Find a comprehensive breakdown of the food bar market size, market share, and segment performance in the full report, alongside expert analysis.

Food Bar Market Trends

While overall food bar purchasing remained relatively flat between 2021-22, the nutrition bar market showed a notable increase. Indeed, over half of US food bar purchasers stick with one type of bar, indicating that the nutritional bar is proving to be the best “catch-all” for consumers. This could be due to the convenience and health benefits offered in nutritional bars, that are sought during current financial strains and general fatigue.

In terms of age group differences, Gen Z bar buyers significantly overindex for using bars as a meal replacement, but actual meal replacement bars fall to the bottom of their purchase list. Meanwhile, US consumers aged 25-34 need no convincing to browse the food bar aisle; the vast majority are purchasing bars this year, and they’re mostly sticking with popular brands.

  • Consumer behaviors: 95% of consumers 25-34 are purchasing food bars this year.
  • Food bar trends: Taste is paramount; 62% of consumers strongly agree that food bars they buy must taste good.

Food Bar Market Opportunities

This report reveals that food bars are a category with strong brand loyalty. Embedded, habitual purchase behavior can make it challenging for small or new brands to break in. Looking to concepts consumers have not tried but are interested in trying are potentially one way in, such as bars with functional benefits and bars with ethical claims.

Growth is likely to come from existing users rather than new category entrants, making the challenge to be reaching the most engaged groups, where they are, with what they are most interested in seeing. Food bar market growth will be driven by performance and weight loss bars, indicating 2023 purchases will lean toward specialty offerings with more direct and specific health claims. Reasons for buying more are plentiful, while cost savings largely drive reasons for cutting back.

  • Food bar market innovation: 26% have not purchased, but are interested in purchasing bars with functional benefits, leading against other elements.

To discover more about the food bar and snack industry, read our US Snacking Motivations and Attitudes Market Report or take a look at our extensive snack market research.

This Report Looks at the Following Areas

  • Bar types purchased.
  • Adult and children food bar consumption occasions.
  • Experience with various bar types and innovation.
  • Anticipated change in food bar purchases.
  • Concepts, flavors, and claims to motivate trial.
  • Attitudes toward food bars.

Covered in this Report

Products: Snack bars (cereal and snack bars), nutrition bars (health/nutrition bars), performance bars (athletic bars), weight loss bars (meant for diet and weight management).

Companies: General Mills Inc, Kellogg Co, Mondelez Intl Inc, Mars Inc, The Simply Good Foods Co, PepsiCo Inc, 1440 Foods Company, BioNutritional Research Group, Glanbia PLC, and more.

Brands: Nature Valley, LÄRABAR, General Mills, Kellogg’s, RXBAR, Nature’s Bakery, Quaker, Clif, Pure Protein, MET-Rx, Power Crunch, Protein One, Perfect, Luna, Think!, Atkins, Special K, Slim Fast, and more.

Expert Analysis from a Food and Drink Specialist

This report, written by Sydney Olson, a leading analyst in the Food and Drink sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the food bar market and add expert context to the numbers.

75% of current bar buyers anticipate maintaining or increasing their category purchases in 2023, driven by conditions such as inflation, hybrid work schedules and consumers’ general burnout. However, the challenge stems from category crowding that will further intensify competition. Brands that can strike the balance between innovation and familiarity, while maintaining great taste, will come out on top.

Sydney Olson - Food and Drink Analyst

 

Sydney Olson
Senior Food and Drink Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of market, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 2: Category outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Mid-age consumers are a challenging opportunity
      • Figure 3: Bar purchases, by age, 2021-22
    • Consumers will rely on bars to ease financial stress
      • Figure 4: Bar types purchased, by financial situation, 2022
    • Usage versatility can address burnout and add value
      • Figure 5: Adult bar consumption occasions – Select occasions, 2021- 22
    • Innovation is a challenging undertaking
      • Figure 6: Bar innovation experience – Have not purchased, but interested, 2022
    • Strategic partnerships can shine
      • Figure 7: Concepts and flavors to encourage purchases, 2022
    • Taste is paramount
      • Figure 8: Attitudes about bars, 2022
  3. Market Size and Forecast

    • Socioeconomic conditions favor bars
      • Figure 9: Fan chart of total snack, nutrition and performance bars sales, current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 10: Total US sales and forecast of snack, nutrition and performance bars, current prices, 2017-27
  4. Segment Performance

    • Snack bars offer relief to busy families
      • Figure 11: Fan chart of total snack bar sales, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 12: Total US retail sales and forecast of snack bars, at current prices, 2017-27
    • Protein and evolved benefits will drive performance bar success
      • Figure 13: Fan chart of total performance bar sales, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 14: Total US retail sales and forecast of performance bars, at current prices, 2017-27
    • Nutrition bars offer affordable nutritional insurance
      • Figure 15: Fan chart of total nutrition bar sales, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 16: Total US retail sales and forecast of nutrition bars, at current prices, 2017-27
    • Weight loss bars require reframing
      • Figure 17: Fan chart of total weight loss bars sales, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 18: Total US retail sales and forecast of weight loss bars, at current prices, 2017-27
  5. Market Factors

    • Bars are well positioned to weather the inflation storm
      • Figure 19: Impact of inflation, 2022
    • Ongoing need for non-traditional targets
      • Figure 20: Annual births, 2010-21
    • Multi-faceted health definitions
      • Figure 21: Perceptions of healthy lifestyle behaviors, 2022
    • Bars’ role in modern work lives
      • Figure 22: Work situation, 2022
  6. Market Share/Key Players

    • Stiff bar company competition
      • Figure 23: Snack, nutrition and performance bars, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
    • General Mills snack bar powerhouse
      • Figure 24: General Mills Snack bar launches/relaunches, 2022
      • Figure 25: Perceptions of General Mills launches, 2021-22
      • Figure 26: Multi-outlet sales of snack bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
    • Protein bars for kids drive growth in performance bars
      • Figure 27: Successful protein bars for kids, 2022
      • Figure 28: Multi-outlet sales of performance bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
    • Successful nutrition brands balance specific and simple
      • Figure 29: Successful nutrition bar brands, 2021-22
      • Figure 30: Multi-outlet sales of nutrition bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
    • Keto brands defy the trajectory of the weight loss segment
      • Figure 31: weight loss bar launches – Growing brands, 2022
      • Figure 32: Multi-outlet sales of weight loss bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
  7. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Benefit trust comes from benefit focus
      • Figure 33: Bar launches with brain and mood claims, 2022
    • Bars designed for nursing moms
      • Figure 34: Bars for nursing moms, 2022
    • Strengthen the reason to buy chilled bars
      • Figure 35: Refrigerated/frozen bar launches, by purchase intent, 2022
      • Figure 36: Perception of refrigerated/frozen bar launches, 2022
    • Trending ingredient: seeds
      • Figure 37: Percentage of bar launches including seeds, 2022
    • Coffee and tea’s best friend
      • Figure 38: Bar brand coffee and tea posts, 2022
  8. The Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bar Consumer – Fast Facts

    • Consumers flock to nutritional bars
    • Expand and highlight the value of bar versatility
    • Update the familiar to break purchase patterns
    • Seven in 10 will buy the same amount or more in 2023
    • Co-branding is a strong 2023 opportunity
    • Taste and simplicity will guide 2023 choices
  9. Trended Purchases

    • Nutritional bars offer nutritional insurance
      • Figure 39: Bar types purchased, 2021-22
    • Bar reliance returns for mid-age consumers
      • Figure 40: Bar purchases, by age, 2021-22
  10. Bar Type Purchased

    • Use momentum to spotlight other bars
      • Figure 41: Bar types purchased, 2022
    • Streamlined purchases favor nutritional bars
      • Figure 42: Bar types purchased, repertoire analysis, 2022
    • Boost women participation across bar types
      • Figure 43: Bar types purchased, by gender, 2022
    • Range to fare well amid inflation
      • Figure 44: Bar types purchased, by financial situation, 2022
    • Reinforce bars as a solution for the whole family
      • Figure 45: Bar Purchases, for who, 2022
  11. Adult Bar Occasions

    • Continue to evolve versatile bar usage
      • Figure 46: Adult bar consumption occasions, 2022
    • Non-traditional occasions see growth
      • Figure 47: Adult bar consumption occasions, 2021-22
    • Opportunity for meal replacement bars with Generation Z
      • Figure 48: Adult bar consumption occasions – Any meal replacement, by generation, 2022
    • Extend snack time to parents
      • Figure 49: Adult bar consumption occasions – Any snack, by parent status, 2022
  12. Children Bar Occasions

    • Bars are the new kid treat of choice
      • Figure 50: Children bar consumption occasions, 2022
    • Part of occasions grow
      • Figure 51: Children bar consumption occasions, 2021-22
    • Meeting the needs of large households
      • Figure 52: Children bar consumption occasions, by number of children, 2022
  13. Experience with Bar Types and Innovation

    • Familiarity, high expectations create challenges
      • Figure 53: Bar innovation experience, 2022
    • Maximizing trending concepts to help minimize overwhelm
      • Figure 54: Bar innovation experience – Have not purchased, but interested, 2022
    • Reach the largest audience by updating the familiar
      • Figure 55: Bar innovation experience – Have purchased, would purchase again, 2022
    • Financially healthy consumers view bars through a more critical lens
      • Figure 56: Bar innovation experience – Have purchased, would not purchase again, 2022
  14. Anticipated Change in Bar Purchases

    • Brand competition will continue to intensify
      • Figure 57: Future purchase plans, 2022
    • Double down on parents
      • Figure 58: Future purchase plans, by parent status, 2022
    • Growth to be driven by performance and weight loss bars
      • Figure 59: Future purchase plans, by bar type purchased 2022
  15. Reasons for Changes in Bar Purchase

    • Reasons for buying more are fragmented
      • Figure 60: Reasons for buying more, 2022
    • Bars are gaining traction with women approval
      • Figure 61: Reasons for buying more, by gender 2022
    • Cost cutting will cause the biggest wave in bars
      • Figure 62: Reasons for buying fewer, 2022
  16. Concepts, Flavors and Claims to Motivate Trial

    • Flavors and concepts of interest point to partnership opportunities
      • Figure 63: Concepts and flavors to encourage purchases, 2022
    • Meal replacement bar buyers want more
      • Figure 64: Concepts and flavors to encourage purchases – Select concepts/flavors, by bar type purchased 2022
    • Generation Z is all in on new concepts
      • Figure 65: Concepts and flavors to encourage purchases – Select concepts and flavors, by generation 2022
    • Challenge the limit placed on what bars can do
      • Figure 66: Claims to encourage purchases, 2022
    • Parents primed for added benefits
      • Figure 67: Claims to encourage purchases – Select claims, by parent status, 2022
  17. Bar Attitudes

    • Taste remains a non-negotiable
      • Figure 68: Attitudes about bars, 2022
    • Branding opportunity: simplicity
      • Figure 69: Attitudes about bars – Select attitudes, 2022
    • Men show greater reliance on brand name
      • Figure 70: Attitudes about bars – Select attitudes, by gender, 2022
  18. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  19. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 71: Total US retail sales and forecast of snack, nutrition and performance bars, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 72: Total US retail sales and forecast of snack, nutrition and performance bars, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 73: Total US retail sales and forecast of snack, nutrition and performance bars, by segment, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 74: Average annual household spending on snack, nutrition and performance bars, 2017-22
      • Figure 75: Total US retail sales and forecast of snack bars, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 76: Total US retail sales and forecast of snack bars, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 77: Total US retail sales and forecast of performance bars, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 78: Total US retail sales and forecast of performance bars, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 79: Total US retail sales and forecast of nutrition bars, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 80: Total US retail sales and forecast of nutrition bars, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 81: Total US retail sales and forecast of weight loss bars, at current prices, 2017-27
      • Figure 82: Total US retail sales and forecast of weight loss bars, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
  20. Appendix –Companies and Brands

      • Figure 83: Multi-outlet sales of snack, nutrition and performance bars, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
      • Figure 84: Multi-outlet sales of snack bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
      • Figure 85: Multi-outlet sales of performance bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
      • Figure 86: Multi-outlet sales of nutrition bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022
      • Figure 87: Multi-outlet sales of weight loss bars, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2021 and 2022

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