Talking Points: Peak Bar? - Do We Really Need Another Snack Bar?

For the longest time, the US snack bar market was one of the rising stars in the US packaged food firmament, growing at above-average rates as it established itself as the perfect platform for many of today’s consumer trends, especially when on-the-go. But what worked when we traveled has not done so well as we stayed at home – the pandemic quickly curtailed our mobile and sports-related snacking habits. Overall, as Mondelēz would have us believe, consumers have been snacking more during the pandemic as a source of “comfort, connection and community,” but not, it seems, when it comes to our beloved snack bars.

During these pandemic days, what was convenient and highly relevant to consumers has become well, less relevant and not aligned to their home-centric needs. Not every brand or food product pivoted to the at-home experience, and it is easy to see why a nutritionally dense energy bar might lose out to say popcorn as we retreated to the comfort and consolation of our sofas and Netflix. And so, despite 2020 being a boom year for most supermarket aisles, it was a very tough one for snack bars, and potentially more worryingly, there doesn’t seem to have been much of a return to their old retail form so far in 2021. As Simply Good Foods noted in a recent (under)statement, “bars remain temporarily soft due to fewer on-the-go usage occasions.” As we survey the snack bar landscape, here are five themes that come to mind:

1. 2020, Below the Bar
2. Above the Bar – Some Bright Spots
3. Lowering the Bar – Did I Just Eat Dessert?
4. Bar None – Everyone Wants to Be a Snacking Powerhouse
5. Peak Bar – Do We Really Need Another Snack Bar?