Bar market dips; beverages pick up the slack

Growth in the US nutrition bar market has dropped below 10 per cent for the first time since 1996, according to Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ). Between 1996 and 2004, bar sales grew an average 22 per cent, but 2004 only brought a four per cent gain.

?Bar fatigue has set in, while other food-like delivery forms have taken off,? said Anthony Almada, chief scientific officer at California consultancy IMAGINutrition. He noted beverages were the new bars, with that category recording stellar growth.

NBJ highlighted the fallout from the low-carb boom, market saturation and consumer confusion about health benefits as major reasons in the demand drop-off. Poor tasting low-carb bars were blamed for leaving ?first-time bar buyers gagging on the category.?

But Benoit Turpin, general manager at Ohio-based ingredients supplier Euro Proteins, told FF&N that the market is still strong and noted that bar formulation is making significant progress. ?This will win back many consumers who might have rejected bar products on taste or efficaciousness grounds,? he noted. ?It is still one of the best fortification platforms there is, and its mobility suits modern consumers.?

Jason Stephens, marketing director at Next Proteins, observed the market was performing unevenly. ?Core segments in the bar market seem to be holding steady,? he said, noting sales in energy and high-protein bars were flat compared to a year ago. NBJ put the market at $2.16 billion in 2004.

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