Dollar sales of the snack bars/granola bars category totaled $5,316,312,000 in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8, up nearly 4% from the same period a year ago, according to Information Resources, Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm. Unit sales totaled 2,135,122,000, up 2.6%.
Bar strength was paced by widespread growth in the nutritional/intrinsic health value bars category, which accounted for more than 43% of total bar sales during the period. At $2,303,740,000, dollar sales in the nutritional/intrinsic health value bars segment were up 14% from the same period a year ago, according to I.R.I.
Dollar sales of Fiber One bars from Minneapolis-based General Mills, Inc. led the way, with sales of $290,376,900, up 13% from the same period a year ago. Clif bars and Clif Builder’s bars, which are made by Clif Bar & Co., Emeryville, Calif., posted dollar sales gains of 27% and 17%, respectively, in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8, I.R.I. said.
To help accommodate demand for its products, Clif Bar & Co. in mid-October announced plans to build a new bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho, where the company will make Clif Bars and Clif Kid Zbars. The company said the new bakery will be built on nearly 90 acres and will be designed with the goal of pursuing a LEED Silver certification. The initial phase of the project will involve an estimated $90 million investment to build and when fully operational, will create 250 jobs in southern Idaho. The bakery is being designed to scale over time with the total capital investment potentially reaching $160 million, while providing up to 450 full-time employment opportunities.
Where nutrition and health bars have succeeded, breakfast/cereal bars and granola bars have struggled, according to data from I.R.I. Dollar sales in the granola bars category slipped 2% in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8 to $1,711,600,000. General Mills, which accounts for about 41% of category sales, experienced a 4% decline in dollar sales during the period. Meanwhile, The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., sustained a 23% drop as demand for the company’s Fiber Plus bars waned.
In the breakfast/cereal/snack bars segment, dollar sales fell 1% to $1,291,082,000. Year-over-year dollar sales fell for category leaders Kellogg and General Mills, as well as for private label, which declined 6% in the period. One company that did perform well in the period was Rickland Orchards, whose shelf stable Greek yogurt bars matched up well with the overall trend toward Greek yogurt. Sensing an opportunity to capitalize on Rickland’s success, Parsippany, N.J.-based B&G Foods Inc. in early October bought Rickland from Natural Instincts L.L.C. for $57.5 million. Analysts believe the Rickland brand should benefit from B&G Foods’ larger scale of operation.
A sharp drop of 61% occurred in the “all other” snack/granola bars category, as Kraft Foods Inc. cut the cord on its MilkBite milk and granola bars. Introduced in February 2012, the bars were discontinued late last year as the refrigeration requirement of the products failed to resonate with consumers who prefer bars because of their “anytime” nature. Two other products that struggled during the period were Stila bars from Quaker Oats Co., Chicago, and Soy Joy from Pharmavite Corp., Northridge, Calif. Dollar sales for Stila fell 39% during the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8, while sales of Soy Joy dropped 44%, according to I.R.I.