KANSAS CITY — Bars are booming in new product launches, despite the fact that snack, nutrition and performance bars comprised one of the food categories to post sales declines in 2020, according to Mintel’s 2021 US Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bars Industry Report. But a rebound is coming, the market researcher said.

The reduction in away-from-home activity during the COVID-19 pandemic hampered growth for the segment, which dipped nearly 6% in sales declines. However, key drivers of the bar category remain strong, including interest in healthier snacks, functional foods and holistic living trends. These indicators point to a bar market recovery, Mintel said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has driven consumers to increase at-home cooking and snacking,” said Beth Bloom, associate director of food and drink at Mintel. “While this has benefited most snack categories, it undercut those options oriented toward meal replacement and eating on the go. With re-emergence underway, bars are well positioned for a quick recovery and sustained five-year growth. In particular, bars have been at the forefront of better-for-you snacking trends, functional foods, and specialized diets, especially those featuring plant-based proteins, which can help consumers get on track with wellness.”

As the country begins to open back up and consumers resume their busy lifestyles, they will seek new flavors, healthy indulgence and functional benefits from bars, Mintel said. High-protein, keto-friendly and indulgent offerings are currently drawing consumer interest and are among the top trends in new bar launches.

The surge in recent innovation indicates that the bar bounce-back is not far off.

View slideshow of new bars.