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Articles from 2011 In January


Sustainability summit calls for greater food industry transparency

The North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit (www.sustainablefoodssummit.com) drew to a successful close last week, with many participants calling for greater transparency and accountability from the food industry. Organized by Organic Monitor, the summit brought together about 200 executives at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco on 18-19th January 2011.

New horizons for eco-labels and sustainability were the focal theme of the 2-day summit. The summit explored the evolution of eco-labels—such as Organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance—in an increasingly global food industry. Some argue that international supply chains are making consumers disconnected from agriculture and food production methods, with eco-labels able to strengthen consumer confidence. Scott Exo, executive director of Food Alliance, echoed the general sentiment at the summit, calling for the ‘de-commoditization’ of food products by providing greater traceability to consumers.

Seth Goldman, co-founder and president of Honest Tea, opened the summit with his key note on the triple bottom line. By using the example of tea plantations in China, he showed how modernization does not always contribute to sustainability. Since its launch in 1999, Honest Tea has become one of the fastest growing ethical beverage brands in the US.

The first session explored sustainability initiatives in the food industry, with many speakers raising the question, ‘how do you measure sustainability?’ The use of metrics in sustainability performance was explored by Joseph McIntyre from AG Innovation Network. Albert Straus, founder of the Straus Family Creamery, shared his company’s approaches to measuring the carbon footprint of its dairy operations. The importance of offsetting carbon emissions was also highlighted by Theresa Marquez from Organic Valley who showed the role of organic agriculture in carbon sequestration. Sustainability in foodservice was the subject of Bon Appetit Management Company; its initiatives include a commitment to source locally from small farmers.

Also in the morning session, Kenneth Ross from Global ID discussed future trends in eco-labels. His paper stressed the importance of IT in combating food fraud and providing traceability to consumers. Convergence of mobile and internet technologies is expected to allow consumers to get ecological and social footprints of their food products. The session ended with a lively debate on sustainability indicators and measurement.

The second session honed in on ethical sourcing and sustainable ingredients. The opening papers examined the role of Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade standards in lowering social and ecological impacts of food products. Nasser Abufara from Canaan Fairtrade explained how social enterprise can improve lives of marginalized growers. Using case studies of three of the most traded food commodities, sustainable sourcing was discussed by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Theo Chocolate and Givaudan.

Marketing & distribution innovations were the subject of the third summit session. Leading retailers—Fresh & Easy and Safeway—shared some of their ethical trading and marketing initiatives. Alex Petrov from Safeway showed how its O Organics label had transcended the boundaries of a private label without cannibalizing manufacturer brands. Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of the global retailer Tesco, explained how it was raising the bar by implementing new ethical codes of conduct. Ellen W. Feeney from Whitewave Foods shared her experiences in developing brands to meet consumers’ needs for healthy and ecological products with the ‘planetary health’ initiative.

The last session of the summit—organic plus strategies—began with an update on the global organic products market. Amarjit Sahota, President of Organic Monitor, showed how pioneering organic food companies were integrating sustainability into their corporate ethos and how some eco-labels were converging. Proceeding papers gave case studies of such developments. Equal Exchange stated how companies could intertwine organic and fair trade practices, whilst the Brazilian company Native Organic Products shared its raft of sustainability actions. Using wine as a case study, the potential of biodynamic foods was explored by Demeter USA and Fetzer-Bonterra Vineyards. Chad Smith from Earthbound Farms closed the session with an interactive discussion on ecological packaging for sustainable food products.

The third edition of the executive summit raised many questions about sustainability in the food industry: Will an eco-label ever fully represent sustainability? What ecological and social parameters are most important in such a standard? What are the most efficient methods to measure sustainability? Where is the line between green marketing and greenwashing? How can food companies become more sustainable in distribution and packaging? The next editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit aim to address such questions.

About the Sustainable Foods Summit

Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to discuss and debate the major issues the food industry faces concerning concerning sustainability and eco-labels. The proceedings of the North American summit (San Francisco, 18-19th January 2011) are available for a small professional fee. More information is available from www.sustainablefoodssummit.com

About Organic Monitor

Organic Monitor is a specialist research, consulting & training company that focuses on the global organic & related product industries. In 2011, we are celebrating 10 years of encouraging sustainable development. Since 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries. Our services include market research publications, business & technical consulting, summits, seminars & workshops. Visit us at www.organicmonitor.com.

Animal study links maternal omega-3s deficiency to depression in offspring

How maternal essential fatty acid deficiency impact on its progeny is poorly understood. Dietary insufficiency in omega-3 fatty acid has been implicated in many disorders. Researchers from Inserm and INRA and their collaborators in Spain have studied mice fed on a diet low in omega-3 fatty acid. They discovered that reduced levels of omega-3 had deleterious consequences on synaptic functions and emotional behaviours. Details of this work are available in the online version of the journal Nature Neuroscience, which can be accessed at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.2736

In industrialized nations, diets have been impoverished in essential fatty acids since the beginning of the 20th century. The dietary ratio between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 increased continuously over the course of the 20th century. These fatty acids are "essential" lipids because the body cannot synthesize them from new. They must therefore be provided through food and their dietary balance is essential to maintain optimal brain functions.

Olivier Manzoni (Head of Research Inserm Unit 862, "Neurocentre Magendie", in Bordeaux and Unit 901 "Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méditerranée" in Marseille), and Sophie Layé (Head of Research at INRA Unit 1286, "Nutrition et Neurobiologie Intégrative" in Bordeaux) and their co-workers hypothesized that chronic malnutrition during intra-uterine development, may later influence synaptic activity involved in emotional behaviour (e.g. depression, anxiety) in adulthood.

To verify their hypotheses, the researchers studied mice fed a life-long diet imbalanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that omega-3 deficiency disturbed neuronal communication specifically. The researchers observed that only the cannabinoid receptors, which play a strategic role in neurotransmission, suffer a complete loss of function. This neuronal dysfunction was accompanied by depressive behaviours among the malnourished mice.

Among omega-3 deficient mice, the usual effects produced by cannabinoid receptor activation, on both the synaptic and behavioural levels, no longer appear. Thus, the CB1R receptors lose their synaptic activity and the antioxidant effect of the cannabinoids disappears.

Consequently, the researchers discovered that among mice subjected to an omega-3 deficient dietary regime, synaptic plasticity, which is dependent on the CB1R cannabinoid receptors, is disturbed in at least two structures involved with reward, motivation and emotional regulation: the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. These parts of the brain contain a large number of CB1R cannabinoid receptors and have important functional connections with each other.

"Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders", explain Olivier Manzoni and Sophie Layé. "To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required".

In conclusion, the authors estimate that their results provide the first biological components of an explanation for the observed correlation between omega-3 poor diets, which are very widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as depression.

Nature Queen unveils herbal satiety formulation

Nature Queen, L.C. announced the discovery a new all-natural herbal satiety formulation to address the difficulties people experience when trying to manage hunger and weight gain. The main ingredient of the new satiety formulation is a highly concentrated extract of Hoodia Gordonii cactus, yet when mixed with two herbal extracts with similar properties, initial research shows the formulation appears to act as a highly effective appetite suppressant. As a result, Nature Queen, L.C. is actively seeking organizations or companies to partner with in order to conduct further research and clinical trials for this novel nutraceutical formulation.

“At present we are seeking an organization with experience with nutraceuticals interested in partnering with our company to perform further research for our novel nutraceutical formulation that has shown promise with satiety,” said Cid Abreu, President of Nature Queen, L.C. “CROs, R&D facilities and those professional organizations specializing in nutraceutical research and clinical trials would be the logical next step toward advancing this new herbal formulation towards market. We are confident enough in our findings thus far to initiate the search for a partner that can assist in shaping trial design and sample size,” concluded Abreu.

The main ingredient of Nature Queen, L.C.'s novel formulation, Hoodia Gordonii cactus, has no known side effects and is grown in the African Kalahari desert. It flourishes in extremely high temperatures and takes several years to mature. The plant had been ingested by Africa's bush men for hundreds of years in order to ward off hunger during lengthy hunting trips. Hoodia Gordonii cactus has been used for more than a decade in different nutraceutical products addressing weight loss and appetite control. However, Nature Queen, L.C.'s addition of two herbal extracts with similar properties appears to create a highly effective appetite suppressant with additional benefits not seen in Hoodia Gordonii cactus alone.

For more information or to contact the company's President, Cid Abreu, call 1-305-591-1983.

About Nature Queen, L.C.

Founded in 1992, Miami-based Nature Queen, L.C. is an herbal research company involved in the development and marketing of nutraceuticals, natural food supplements and herbal products for distribution in the U.S. and worldwide. The company's main objective is to develop high-quality, unique, effective and safe natural products—different from anything else presently available in the market today.

Kellogg's debuts Crunchy Nut cereal in U.S.

When U.S consumers get their first taste of simply delicious Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal, they’ll be looking for excuses to enjoy it. And for its launch in the U.S., Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal is ready with the perfect excuse: it’s always morning somewhere. The launch of Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal in the U.S. is the latest example of Kellogg Company leveraging proven ideas from around the Kellogg world.

After years of success in the U.K., the Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal brand knows consumers don’t want to wait to enjoy the simply delicious taste of Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal. Fortunately, they don’t need to, according to the brand’s U.S. launch campaign because “It’s Morning Somewhere.”

“This is an exciting product launch for Kellogg Company and we’re committed to making it a success,” said Yuvraj Arora, senior director, adult ready-to-eat cereal marketing. “Given the success of the brand in other markets and the consistent feedback from consumers that they simply love the taste of Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal, we’re eager to bring this hugely popular brand to U.S. consumers, who we’re confident will have a similar passion for Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal.”

“It’s Morning Somewhere”
Symbolizing that consumers have the perfect excuse to enjoy the irresistible taste of Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal because “It’s Morning Somewhere,” the campaign will kick off with a consumer event featuring an enormous cuckoo clock. Celebrating mornings across all time zones and the idea that “It’s Morning Somewhere,” the Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cuckoo clock is so big it may even set the Guinness World Records® Record for the largest cuckoo clock.

“To bring this iconic brand to the U.S., we wanted a symbol that represented the ‘It’s Morning Somewhere’ campaign and the enormity of the launch,” said Arora. “Creating this immense clock and generating an exciting experience for consumers is a fun way to introduce Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal in the U.S. and bring our campaign to life."

About Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ Cereal
With a blend of delicious honey and pieces of nuts in every crunchy bite, Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal is available in two flavors—Golden Honey Nut and Roasted Nut and Honey.

Golden Honey Nut features golden corn flakes drizzled with honey and topped with real peanuts. Roasted Nut and Honey features corn and oat Os topped with roasted peanuts and honey.

Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal is already available on many grocery shelves this month and will be available nationwide beginning in February. For more information visit the Kellogg’s® Crunchy Nut™ cereal Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/kelloggscrunchynut.

About Kellogg Company
With 2009 sales of nearly $13 billion, Kellogg Company is the world’s leading producer of cereal and a leading producer of convenience foods, including cookies, crackers, toaster pastries, cereal bars, fruit-flavored snacks, frozen waffles and veggie foods. The Company’s brands include Kellogg’s®, Keebler®, Pop-Tarts®, Eggo®, Cheez-It®, All-Bran®, Mini-Wheats®, Nutri-Grain®, Rice Krispies®, Special K®, Chips Deluxe®, Famous Amos®, Sandies®, Austin®, Club®, Murray®, Kashi®, Bear Naked®, Morningstar Farm®, Gardenburger® and Stretch Island®. Kellogg products are manufactured in 18 countries and marketed in more than 180 countries. For more information, visit http://www.kelloggcompany.com. Kellogg’s Corporate Responsibility report including its approach, progress and future direction in the marketplace, workplace, environment and community can be found at http://www.kelloggcompany.com/CR. For information on Kellogg Company’s commitment to nutrition, visit http://www.kelloggsnutrition.com.

Fenchem expands production of natural vitamin E

Fenchem is enlarging commercial production of d-Alpha tocopheryl succinate to plug the requirement gap on active ingredient for natural vitamin E tablet. The product is available in 1185 IU and 1210 IU, which is a high concentration powder with reduced susceptibility to degradation when exposed to air or elevated processing temperatures and is perfectly suited for tablet applications. It is a free flowing powder that works well on high-speed tablet presses.  The product meets the standard of FCC and USP and it is IP certified Non-GMO.

Our new production capacity of 70-80 tons yearly aims to boost supply of ingredients for natural supplement industry. The production expansion is a strong addition to our natural vitamin E product lines. Our stock in USA and Europe office is sufficient and stable, which guarantees competitive price and fast delivery for our customers.

Fenchem has a full vitamin E product line with brand name of TOCOVET®, including mixed tocopherols, d-alpha tocopherol, d-alpha tocopheryl succinate and d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, to meet wide applications.

Fenchem is is specialized in developing,manufacturing and marketing active ingredients with high bio-activity and safety, serving the dietary supplements and functional foods with history of about 15 years. Our branches Fenchem Inc in USA and Fenchem Europe in Czech Republic aims to supply better service for our worldwide customers.

Fenchem’s products are of high quality and safety. From raw material purchasing, developing, manufacturing to quality testing, Fenchem develops a professional management system to control all stages which ensures our customers with tailor-made, well-researched ingredients to stand out in the marketplace. Furthermore, our R&D scientists and laboratory technicians give our customers much technical support on product applications, which will enable you to reduce the time-to-market cycle of new applications.

Dutch consortium cuts sodium in meat and cheese by 30 percent

Sodium reduction of more than 30% while retaining great taste is possible. This is the first outcome of a large project by Vion Food Group and FrieslandCampina in collaboration with NIZO food research and co-funded by the Dutch Government (FND). The project, called Sodium Minus, has been running since 2008 and already products with at least 30% salt reduction are available on the European market. Innovative solutions for both cheese and meat were found by creating natural flavor enhancers and aromas that deliver the same taste sensation.

Organizations such as the World Health Organization advocate a decrease of sodium consumption by at least 30%. To date, progress has been gradual, and based largely on industry-wide strategies in which the salt content is reduced every year by a few percent. However, to achieve such a large reduction of salt levels in consumer products such as bacon, sausages and cheese requires a totally different approach to be adopted.

In the Sodium Minus project new technologies were developed to produce a salt reduction system based on salt replacers, masking agents, flavor enhancers and top notes (specific aromas that prompt association with saltiness). All aspects are relevant, but as a clean label approach was considered important for the food companies, the focus was on finding new solutions based on natural taste and aroma compounds.

In the course of the project, aromas that create a perception of saltiness were identified and incorporated in meat and cheese products, allowing a significant salt reduction while retaining great taste and bite.

Janny van Gijssel of NIZO food research and overall manager of the Sodium Minus project is very happy with the results so far. “It is fun to discover that cheese meets meat in test systems. I find it very rewarding to work towards such a clear health benefit for consumers and that in such a short time the results of our joint work can be found in the supermarket.”

“The work will not stop here,” says Ronald Klont, head of R&D at Vion. “Further research is necessary to optimize the new technologies and to implement them in a second and third range of meat products with even lower sodium content. This project has been very successful and will have a really positive impact on people’s health. Over the past two years we have already taken more than 800 tones of sodium chloride out of the gammon and bacon for the UK market.”

“Cheese remains tasty,” says Jo Penders, Project Manager at FrieslandCampina and winner of the golden Cheese Taster 2010. “We created tools to control taste producing cultures, such that the salt perception is enhanced dramatically in a natural way. This is already being applied in the low salt and low fat Milner cheese. This key technology will enable further progress in reducing the salt content in cheese.”

Danisco expands gluten-free ingredient offerings

Danisco has taken natural food protection another step further by converting its entire MicroGARD® and NovaGARD® ingredient lines to “gluten-free”, in response to growing consumer demand. This change follows their earlier pledge to use only rBST-free Non-Fat Dry milk in all their milk-based formulations. With this latest move, the company’s MicroGARD® natural fermentates—and its NovaGARD® antimicrobial blends, provide the same functionality while allowing them to conform to “gluten-free” regulations. These products are now available in all regions where MicroGARD® and NovaGARD® are used today.

“Gluten-free products continue taking more shelf space at retail and appearing on more restaurant menus,” says Matthew Hundt, Global Product Manager, MicroGARD®, Cultures Division. He continues, “The United States has perhaps the largest gluten-free foods market in the world, with annual sales estimated at more than $1.5 billion in a ‘free-from’ market worth over $3 billion. At Danisco, our job is to help food manufacturers respond quickly to harness the growth opportunity that demand represents.”

Although the prevalence of celiac disease in the U.S. is not known, by some estimates, one in every 133 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K. suffers from this intolerance to gluten. According to Mintel's Food & Drink April 2010 Pizza report, in a relatively short space of time, the market for gluten-free foods has increased significantly, with room for more growth.

In fact, the gluten-free food and beverage sector experienced double-digit growth in 2009, according to data released earlier this year by Innova Database, which tracks new food and drink launches globally.

MicroGARD® fermentates and NovaGARD® antimicrobial blends are part of Danisco’s Care4U™ range of natural food protective solutions, which also includes Nisaplin® and Natamax® purified antimicrobials, HOLDBAC™ protective cultures, and GUARDIAN™ natural extracts. For more information, or to contact a Danisco representative for assistance with a specific formulation, go to www.daniscocare4u.com.

15 heart-healthy recipes

 

Mango and Black Rice Chicken Salad

Serves 4 / Lean proteins, including skinless chicken, are low in artery-clogging saturated fat. Paired with whole grains for antioxidants and fiber, pine nuts for monounsaturated fats, and beta-carotene-packed mangoes, and you have a nutrient-rich lunch or supper. View recipe.

Panko-Crusted Catfish with Garlic Chard

Serves 4/ Panko breadcrumbs, found in the Asian food section, give fish a crunchy coating similar to that of dried fish, but without the fat and calories. View recipe.

Slow-Baked Salmon with Red Wine and Honey

Serves 4/ Low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids, this tender entree features a delicious, heart-healthy red wine sauce. View recipe.

Wheat Berry and Wild Mushroom Soup

Serves 8 / Significant fiber and plenty of antioxidants make whole grains like wheat berries (barley, bulgur), as well as beans, lentils, and split peas, key players in the arsenal of heart-healthy foods. View recipe.

Spaghetti with Almond Sauce and Vegetable Confetti

Serves 4 / Nuts and nut butters are rich in good monounsaturated fats, and vegetables in the dish contribute antioxidants and fiber. Using whole-grain noodles adds a heart-healthy dose of fiber. View recipe.

Fiesta Shrimp Omelet and more

Fiesta Shrimp Omelet

Serves 1 / When you crave a gourmet breakfast, try this simple dish with fresh herbs and low-fat, quick-cooking shrimp. Shrimp, like other shellfish, contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and help lower blood pressure. View recipe.

Broccoli, Fennel, and Mache Salad with Rosemary Dressing

Serves 4–6 / This recipe, developed by Dennis Gale Malone, Ornish’s chef and dietary lifestyle educator, combines antioxidant-rich pomegranates, heart-healthy walnuts and flax, and phytochemically blessed broccoli and blueberries. Serve it with a wild rice pilaf for a simple lunch. View recipe.

White Bean, Tomato, and Arugula Sandwich

Serves 4 / Beans, whole grains, and garlic excel at lowering blood cholesterol levels, and tomatoes boast heart-healthy antioxidants. View recipe.

Halibut tacos with red, white, and green salsa

Serves 4-6 / What really makes this dish taste special is the sweet and spicy salsa. And it's healthy: The halibut adds heart-healthy omega-3 fats, while watermelon contains lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant reputed to have anticancer properties. View recipe.

Raw avocado and Cucumber Soup

Serves 4 / This creamy, satisfying soup preserves the heart-healthy oils found in avocados and almonds. View recipe.

Lentil-Vegetable Stew

Serves 6 / Banish the cold weather with this versatile stew, packed with heart-healthy fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, iron, and B vitamins. View recipe.

Carrot-Apple Slaw with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 8 / A fantastic alternative to mayonnaise-based slaws, this colorful side dish is full of vitamins, fiber, and heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Serve cold or at room temperature. View recipe.

Nori and Kale Salad and more

Nori and Kale Salad

Serves 6 / A high-protein, high-vitamin, high-fiber combination that’s a great make-ahead dish. Peppers add color and heart-healthy antioxidants, and sesame oil lowers blood pressure. View recipe.

Edamame and Avocado Salad

Serves 8 / Although low in EFAs, virgin (not refined) olive oil helps protect the heart with phytosterols, which prevent cholesterol absorption. View recipe.

Oat-Date Bars

Makes 12 bars / These simple but flavor-packed bars provide heart-healthy fiber, good fats, and aromatic ingredients such as cinnamon and agave nectar (look for agave in the honey section of your natural products store). View recipe.

NBJ

Future of nutrition bars shaped by lifestyle brands and functional ingredients

 

Nutrition bars are the ultimate convenience food. As long as consumers live hectic, fast-paced lives, these handy little packages of nutrition and energy should continue to enjoy solid sales and shopper preference. That's not to say the category isn't changing. Since nutrition bars reached their peak in product launches in 2005, the segment has seen slower growth rates, less innovation, and a drop off in strategic acquisitions by big food companies once keen to play in the category.

The segment is also highly subject to the changing whims of an increasingly diverse consumer base with a growing knowledge of health and fickle tastebuds. These shoppers are looking to bars as the answer for a variety of dietary concerns, including weight management, energy, protein deficiency, sugar intake and gluten allergies, just to name a few. And it all has to come in a package with low calories, high flavor, and a reasonable price tag. This is a tall order for bar makers, who often end up chasing after the latest, hottest trends and taking the category in a multitude of different directions.

As 2011 begins, the big brands are holding steady by introducing new flavors and launching brand extensions, and a few upstart companies are seeing double-digit growth by identifying new niches and expanding their distribution points. As these new players move in and out of the category, success could be anybody's game.

Lay of the Land




Bars were once at the cutting edge of diet and ingredient innovation, which fueled hundreds of new products, 20%-plus growth for leading brands and a high level of interest from strategic buyers. But the picture is different today, and the category appears to be in transition. Big food companies now either already own a nutrition bar brand, or they may be looking to divest their bar interests as the market matures, as Kraft Foods did in 2009 with Balance Bar.

Strategic mergers and acquisitions are dropping off in part due to slower growth, but also because the category continues to be only a rounding error for CPGs, says Brian Smith of Partnership Capital Growth Advisors (PCGA) in San Francisco. “Right now, many of the players are just stealing market share from each other,” adds Smith. “But those companies that have been recently acquired are doing well under new ownership, which has encouraged new formulations, repackaging and other innovation.”

Janica Lane, also at PCGA, notes that private-equity firms are starting to buy these assets from major food companies and may be better able to make use of the brands in the current environment.

Rounding error or not, nutrition bars do continue to be a solid business. According to Tom Vierhile, director of product launch analytics for Datamonitor, the category saw a 30% increase in product launches in 2010. “Many were private label, and they weren't necessarily just health and nutrition bars — it now goes much broader into cereal, energy, sports bars and granola bars,” he says.

For online retailers, like Bellevue, Washington-based drugstore.com, which ships approximately 250,000 bars per quarter, the category is showing maturity but is still a strong bellwether segment, according to Julie Johnston, vice president of merchandising. “We are maintaining the bar category overall, although the mature company growth is consistent with our company growth, which is what we want to see.”

More recent growth, she continues, is coming from an assortment of expansion and niche players as opposed to top brands. “We are not seeing a downward trend with the main players,” Johnston explains, “but more growth is coming from the innovation and newness of bars from companies such as KIND and thinkProducts.”

‘Dessertifying’ the Bar




Both Smith and Lane also see strong potential for growth as consumers catch on to products that are blurring the lines between the more general snack category and nutrition bars. “The overarching trend is toward health and wellness, which is diametrically opposed to that other trend — indulgence,” says Lane.

Nevertheless, she sees both sides moving toward healthy bars, with continued product innovation toward, for example, lower sugar and a low glycemic index for diabetics or weight management, or a product catering to highly sophisticated athletes and nutrition-conscious consumers. “Such range opens up the category to a very broad consumer base.”

Many argue that there are a handful of companies with growth at a strong clip, but the verticals in which they compete are small and immature right now. But, as Smith puts it, “If you look at the salty snacks category alone, that's a $20 billion-plus opportunity and it's relevant to the bar sector.”

Vierhile explains that there is a shift in the positioning of some bars into the indulgence category. He noted CLIF Bar's 2010 introduction of its Crunch granola bar. “This may be a sign that more bar companies will play around with texture in the future,” he says. “It also shows that they are going after traditional salty snacks by offering a healthy alternative to chips.”

This trend is similar to what happened several years ago in the yogurt category, according to Vierhile. “Ten years ago, we never saw yogurt with a dessert flavor, but now you see chocolate chip yogurt all the time. We may also see this ‘dessertification’ in bars.”

Tastes Great, Full of Function




Vierhile also notes an equally prevalent trend taking the category in the opposite direction — toward products with less processing, farther removed from indulgence and candy bars. Some of the newest, he says, are PowerBar Pure and Simple Energy and the Balance Bar Bare line. “These bars are not drenched in chocolate,” says Vierhile. “They are natural, unadulterated whole food with nuts and seeds. Consumers know these products are good for them based on what they see.”

These companies tout a fairly simple formula — portable snack food with all-natural ingredients, high in nutritional value, minus the additives. One of the first entries in this niche is Ventura, California-based thinkProducts, creators of the thinkThin natural protein bars, which is capitalizing on a 51% increase in sales in 2010 by expanding into grocery, drug and natural retail channels.

President and CEO Lizanne Falsetto explains that her company's whole concept is about a diet and weight-management lifestyle, offering pure, delicious snack foods to sate the appetite between meals. The concept, she adds, is a natural progression for bars, and it works because “consumers are increasingly label savvy. They are educated about protein, fiber, carbohydrates and antioxidants. They know what these ingredients do, and they want to buy them.”

While areas of functionality are gaining in importance, experts say the foremost drivers of the category still center on convenience and taste. “What always helps bars is the convenience factor,” says Jason Stephens, director of sales and new product development for Detour Bars, which is owned and manufactured by Forward Foods in Carlsbad, California. “We all live on-the-go lifestyles. Convenience will never go away. It is just a fact of life important to all of us.”

Taste is another constant driver of the category, and companies will continue to push the boundaries of what they are doing with bars, while delivering the best taste, according to Stephens. “We used our knowledge of taste, combined with the ability to add functional ingredients at an efficacious level — so it is not just pixie dust — and then created a bar with the least amount of sugar possible,” says Stephens. “With type 2 diabetes, obesity and other health issues, sugar is the number one enemy in the American diet.”

Michael Sands, president and CEO of Balance Bar, now owned by private-equity firm Brynwood Partners, agrees that taste is king, but adds that companies also will have to differentiate. “The industry has the technology to make better bars — bars taste dramatically better than they did a few years ago,” says Sands. “At the end of the day, bars will also have to be efficacious and match with consumer trends. Innovation will provide the next level of growth for this category.”

Moving Way Beyond Protein




Bars offering high protein and low sugar certainly have strong relevance with consumers right now, but drugstore.com's Johnston also sees companies carving out specialty areas that are increasingly narrow, such as gluten-free, mini-size bars for portion control, and those with low glycemic values. “It is not just the high-protein scenario anymore,” she says.

The thing about bars, Vierhile says, is that “the market can go in multiple directions at the same time, but this also provides plenty of opportunity for innovation.” Sands sees potential for bars with fiber, multi-grains and functional ingredients such as omega-3s and antioxidants. “I think we will start to see much more functionality in the category as we develop the ability to add these health ingredients,” says Vierhile. “And many of these ingredients are now substantiated by science for sports performance and other health aspects.”

One of the most interesting bars that Vierhile has seen is the Winetime Bar from Rezves in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Its claim to fame is gourmet nutrition with resveratrol, touted to protect against free radical damage and promote a healthy heart. “We are also seeing some emergence of probiotics in cereals and health bars,” he adds.

Though it is fairly unusual, Vierhile also points out that companies from other sectors are moving into the bar category. POM Wonderful, the Los Angeles beverage company, now has its Pom X bar with antioxidants. “It is not common for companies in the beverage or produce segments to enter the bar category,” he explains, “but there is actually a low barrier to entry for bars. Almost anyone can jump in.”

Bars that offer weight-management solutions remain a niche with strong potential, but there is little current innovation. Satiety is one part of weight management that may develop into a meaningful subcategory. A bar at the cutting edge of this trend is Fullbar, based in Denver, Colorado. The bar is positioned for satiety and is often found in the medical food section of the super market. “Fullbar is a good fit in the medical bars category,” says Vierhile. “It fills you up with high protein and lower calories. We may see bars making more overt claims on satiety in the future, but in the meantime, Fullbar is certainly a product to watch.”

Forward Foods, whose Detour Bar is made with whey protein, is also paying attention to this trend, as science validates the use of higher protein for healthy weight loss. “We are obviously trying to identify new consumer groups who can benefit from our standard formulation of whey protein, great taste and low sugar,” says Stephens. “This may include Baby Boomers and weight-management consumers in the future.” Stephens adds that while some of these consumers are already buying the Detour bar, the company will consider creating more targeted products in the future.

In keeping with the merging of bars and the snacks category, Johnston says she is seeing some success in smaller, mini-size bars geared toward consumers looking to be more conscious of portion control. “Consumers are hearing that they are eating too much and need to be more cognizant of their portions,” says Johnston. “SlimFast, for example, is having success with a 100-calorie bar.” This trend, she predicts, may also be an opportunity in the kids segment as mothers concerned about obesity will look for ways to control snack portions. “Right now, bars are not jumping on this trend, so moms are turning to other snacks instead.”

New Frontiers




In the search for new consumers, bars are also starting to turn up in new distribution channels, says PCGA's Smith. “Starbucks is a great example of this,” he says. “We are now seeing nutrition bars there. This is a trend that will definitely expand the category and sales for these companies.”

Smith adds that retailers are looking for brands that attract consumers in order to “brand block,” dedicating shelf space, displays and sections to brands' full lines. For example, he says, “an Atkins section will offer all the things that you need for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There may be more than a few brands that could pull this off.”

Although Balance Bar has traditionally focused on the bar category alone, Sands says that they see Balance and its science-backed “40-30-30 premise” as a fabulous trademark that lends itself well to a lifestyle brand. “Balance has not traditionally gone outside its one segment, but this is a new day,” he says. “We have a lot of great equity to take into other segments.”

Crossing over into new segments is of cautious interest to more than one bar company. Forward Foods' Stephens also sees the potential of expanding a brand to new segments, if a company can add value to a category. “We see some migration from bars to the ready-to-drink category, which is the next phase for convenience,” says Stephens. “We think this is a place we need to play in.”

That said, Stephens notes the high barriers to entry in the RTD beverage category, and explains that finding the right science to back it up would take time and money. “We want to do something that will move the category up a notch — it can't be just another me-too product.”
 

Top U.S. Nutrition Bar, Energy Gel & Chew Brands in 2010
Bar Brands 2010 Bar Sales ($mil.) 2010 Growth
CLIF 230 30%
PowerBar (Nestlé) 210 5%
NBTY (MET-Rx, WorldWide, Pure Protein) 90 14%
ZonePerfect (Abbott Laboratories) 80 7%
SlimFast (Unilever) 80 5%
Atkins Nutritionals 70 25%
Balance Bar (Brynwood Partners) 50 -5%
Detour (Forward Foods) 40 7%
Larabar 40 20%
Kashi GoLean (Kellogg's) 40 1%
Sum of Top 10 940 12%
120+ Others 560 10%
Total U.S. Wholesale Market 1,500 11%
Total U.S. Consumer Market 2,460 12%


Source: Nutrition Business Journal [$mil., net wholesale sales (gross sales minus any returns, discounts or allowances)]. Company revenues listed are wholesale rounded to the nearest $10 million for the nutrition bar category only, as defined by NBJ. Some revenues are estimates that have been compiled through information provided by company executives, industry analysts and reputable published material. NBJ makes every effort to be accurate, but revenue figures are not the result of audits and are not guaranteed to be accurate. Errors and omissions are unintentional.

 

Anti-Aging Condition Specific Supplement Sales 2006-2009 - Chart 118

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Chart 118 presents NBJ’s numerical analysis of the U.S. sexual/virility health supplements market from 2006-2009 and the top supplements used for this condition-specific category.

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