KANSAS CITY – The coronavirus (COVID-19) has not slowed new product introductions in the snack bar market. Several companies have introduced new concepts and product formats during the past few months to capture share of the snacking occasion. Attributes being offered include sustained energy, organic, clean label, reduced sugar, keto-friendly and more.

Snacking, in general, is on the rise, according to The NPD Group, Chicago. Snack food consumption has increased by 8% during the pandemic as consumers seek comfort through savory and sweet snacks, according to NPD’s “Snack Food Behaviors in Challenging Times” study. During the Great Recession, between 2008 and 2010, snack foods increased by 4.8 billion eatings, a 1% increase.

“We’ve seen consumers turn to indulgent snack foods in other challenging times, and although history isn’t repeating itself during COVID, it is rhyming,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Although we can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, I think it’s safe to say snack food manufacturers and retailers can expect elevated snack food usage while COVID-19 restricts our restaurant usage and overall movement, in particular school closings and work from home orders.”

General Mills’ Nature Valley brand recently introduced Packed, a bar with a sustained energy positioning.

“Through Packed, we want to make sustained energy approachable,” said Scott Baldwin, business unit director of grain snacks for General Mills. “Time and again, we’ve heard from consumers who want a delicious, affordable snack bar with feel-good ingredients that not only bring together a variety of textures, but can also offer long-lasting energy to help them get through their busy days. With the introduction of Packed, Nature Valley is proud to offer a snack bar that delivers on each of these desires.”

With the introduction of its Arbor bar, SupOpta, Inc. is entering a new category and seeking additional growth.

“Given our leadership position in organic ingredients and our fruit snacks platform, there’s no better company than SunOpta to successfully bring an organic fruit bar to the market,” said Michael Buick, senior vice president and general manager. “Many fruit-based snacks are really faux candy, so we wanted to create a certified organic bar that elevates and celebrates the simple goodness of fruit with zero grams of added sugar and only five ingredients or fewer.”

And Rowdy Bars is adding a keto-friendly variety to its line of prebiotic protein bars.

“By expanding our product line and listening to our consumers, we are providing the same nutritious and easily digestible Rowdy Bar, with the added benefits of fitting into the keto lifestyle,” said Kellie Lee, founder.

The new bars have 14 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber and 5 grams of carbohydrates.

View slideshow of snack bar innovation