NEW YORK — Favorable consumer trends will lead to strong continued growth in the snack bar category, according to a report published by Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group.

In the report, titled “Never eat more than you can lift,” Rabobank said the snack bar category has grown at twice the rate of other snack foods and three times the rate of the overall packaged food sector during the past decade. Noting that snack bars are multi-purpose and appeal to a broad range of consumers, and that consumer consumption patterns are shifting with the incidence of snacking increasing, Rabobank said it expects the category to continue to grow.

The research group estimated the snack bar category to have sales of $6 billion, and within the market, which is comprised of breakfast, energy and nutrition, fruit, granola and others, Rabobank estimated energy and nutrition bars account for more than one-third of category sales.

“Most of that explosive growth is attributable to just one maker, Clif Bar & Company,” said Nicholas Fereday, author of the report and an analyst at Rabobank. “Clif’s socially conscious credentials, hip image, and emphasis on taste and quality ingredients have made their Clif, Luna and Mojo brands a hit with consumers and a market leader since 2008.”

New areas of category growth identified by Rabobank include partnerships with quick-service-restaurant companies seeking to open new day parts in an effort to boost sales, and expansion of the snack bar platform through new flavors and the addition of functional ingredients.