Yes, Whey

The latest generation of snack bars reaches an even higher health plane with functional ingredient formulations

The gold standard of healthy snack bars is upgrading to platinum status, marked by ingredients such as whey, superfood seaweed and even cricket protein.

For proof, peruse the three snack-bar finalists in CSP’s and Convenience Store Products’ 2017 Best New Product Contest: Clif Whey Protein Bar, Oatmega Grass-Fed Whey Protein Cookie and thinkThin Protein & Superfruit.

The spectrum of snack bars has widened greatly, and the question is whether convenience retailers can balance their sets to better integrate these healthier bars with traditional flavors that are still popular (think double chocolate and good ol’ peanut butter).

Randy Morton thinks he’s found a way. In early August, he added Pure Fruit & Nut bars from Pure Organic, Solana Beach, Calif., to his set. The bars, which feature a cookie dough-like texture and healthy and organic ingredients, “received immediate results.” The latest generation of snack bars reaches an even higher health plane with functional ingredient formulations, says Morton, the proprietor of Morton’s, a single c-store in Hallettsville, Texas. “We put them in-line and at endcaps with Brookside, Kind, Clif, Kellogg and MET-Rx bars.”

Establishing a spot for Pure produced a double win for Morton, who repositions brands regularly to stay fresh. “Adding Pure prompted me to reposition Gatorade Whey Protein Recover bars to my cooler. We dropped the boxes on a wire rack next to Gatorade drinks, located in a single door below eye level,” he says. “Bar and drink sales exploded.”

One bonus of the latest generation of healthy bars is not just the health halo they carry but also the splashy packaging. “People buy with their eyes,” Morton says. “[Pure’s packaging] is very attractive and the word ‘organic’ makes a difference. We get a lot of travelers and young people into the store, and most demand healthy ingredients.”

The snack-bar innovation pipeline, meanwhile, continues to drive competition in the category. In early May, Kind Snacks held a “Raise the Bar” contest, in which consumers had the opportunity to vote on four new flavors: Sangria, Sesame Seaweed, Spiced Fig and Sweet Pretzel Crunch, with the latter proving to be the favorite. In tandem with this, Kind launched “Feed the Truth,” a campaign designed to improve public health by making truth, transparency and integrity foremost values in today’s food system.

Other brands are leveraging the novelty of their products—even if they come as a shock to consumers. Exo Cricket Flour Bars, formulated with cricket protein, have added the words “cricket protein” front and center on the pack.