KANSAS CITY — Consumers are once again reaching for convenient on-the-go options, which is fueling innovation within the bar category. The segment saw a period of decline due to COVID-19 in 2020, but it has made a steady recovery moving into 2021 and 2022. With a resurgence of interest in convenient options, bar manufacturers are adapting to meet consumers’ demands in new ways.

In a report from Nellson, LLC, which manufactures branded and private label nutritional bar and functional powder systems, consumer requests for plant-based protein have doubled in the past four years.

“Today’s consumers are recognizing the nutritional benefits that plant-based products offer and, now more than ever, want plant-based proteins on the ingredient list when purchasing nutrition bars and powders,” said Bart Child, chief commercial officer of Anaheim-based Nellson, in a February interview

In October 2022, health food company Balanced Tiger debuted its vegan and gluten-free protein bar, which is infused with 1,500 mg of functional mushrooms. The bar features mushroom varieties like cordyceps, lion’s mane and reishi, among others.

Snack bar companies also are homing in on targeted snacking occasions. Market research company Mintel found 95% of US adults snack at least once a day, with 70% snacking two or more times, according to the company’s “Snacking motivations and attitude’s” report.

RXBAR, a Kellogg Co. subsidiary, introduced a breakfast line of protein bars in June 2022, targeting morning snacking.

“We know consumers today prioritize their wellness more than ever, and — quite simply — want to have a good time for a long time,” said Eileen Flaherty, senior brand manager, RXBAR. “RXBAR A.M. is bringing a No B.S. approach to morning bars, offering everything you would expect from RXBAR, with 10 grams of protein and simple ingredients, in a new, soft and crispy texture.”

The line currently features three varieties, including chocolate, honey cinnamon peanut butter and blueberry.

Clif Bar & Co., which was acquired by Mondelez International, Inc. in August 2022 for $2.9 billion, is capitalizing on special audiences in recent releases. In June 2022, the company expanded its Clif Kid Zbar product line with the introduction of a blueberry muffin flavor. The bar contains 12 grams of proteins and features a blend of oats and wild blueberries.

“It’s the perfect addition to our expansive portfolio of Zbar flavors that kids crave and parents trust,” said Valerie Van Arkel, senior brand manager, Clif Kid.

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