Flexible packaging bar wrapsYou’re busy and you’re hungry. If you’re like millions of Americans, you don’t always have the time or the energy to prepare and pack a homemade snack to fuel your hectic lifestyle. Instead, you might rely on quick, ready-to-eat items like snack bars to provide the energy and protein you need between meals. (Let’s face it; three-hour work meetings are stressful enough when you’re not hangry.) You might have one in your bag right now!

The snack bar industry is booming, and, in addition to increased quality, convenience and nutrition seem to be the primary reasons. More than ever, consumers are looking for healthy, portable food items they can grab on the go and, while they want their options to be affordable, people are willing to pay a lot over time. Business Wire reports that in 2017, the snack bar industry in the United States reached a value of approximately $6.8 billion. That number is expected to skyrocket over the next four years, with an estimated value of $8.8 billion by 2023 — and that’s not even accounting for the overall global market, which market intelligence and advisory firm Mordor Intelligence (MI) expects to grow by 6.7% over the next five years. (MI also notes the U.S. dominates the global market with more than 40% of total sales.)

To understand the snack bar market, we’ve got to look at a few key things, including consumer preferences, the different kinds of snack bars available, the major companies at play, and the importance of packaging and branding.

Consumer Preference

We’ve already mentioned that convenience plays a critical role when consumers are shopping for snack items. But not all ready-to-eat snacks are created equally. Shoppers are spending more time researching nutrition labels and want food items that are high in protein and fiber and low in carbs and sugar, according to MI. Consumers are willing to try new things, too, and like when they have a variety of bar options, including ones that are meat-based, gluten-free, Paleo, organic, or vegan.

These trends give companies plenty of room to experiment with natural sweeteners, whole grains, nuts, and plant-based proteins, such as pea and hemp. Brands can also experiment with portion sizes, offering both bite-sized and larger bars, so consumers feel they have multiple options to suit any situation.

Snack Bar Sectors & Brands

The snack bar market is often divided into different categories, including granola bars, performance bars, nutrition bars, and energy and diet bars. While all of these sectors continue to experience growth, granola bars are by far the most profitable and account for three-three-fifths of the entire market, MI reports. Nutrition bars are also increasing in popularity as people are looking for quick ways to boost their protein intake; the sector currently has a value of about $2.2 billion.

Major corporations, such as General Mills, Kellogg, WhiteWave, and PepsiCo are capitalizing on the public’s interest in snack bars and are making millions of dollars in the process. For example, Statista reports that Nature Valley’s original and Sweet + Salty Nut bars raked in $367.8 and $244.6 million in 2017, respectively. Energy and diet snack bars also fared well. More than 10 million people ate Clif bars in 2018, while more than 22 million people ate offerings from Pure Protein, Atkins, PowerBar, and Luna.

Consumers can expect more snack bar varieties to pop up in specialty and conventional grocery stores as corporations expand their reach into the natural foods market.

Packaging & Branding OpportunitiesBAR WRAPS

With so many snack bar brands and varieties hitting shelves, it’s never been more critical for companies to invest in the packaging and branding of their bar wraps. The first way to achieve this is by focusing on attention-grabbing design.

“Attention-grabbing” may seem to indicate that you need neon colors and wacky fonts, but this isn’t always the case. Consumers respond well to packaging that comes across as authentic. If minimalism is your brand’s style, embrace it. Similarly, don’t feel you can’t include illustrations or vibrant colors, especially if they represent your company, your product, and your mission. Bar wrap packaging is one of the greatest marketing tools at your disposal; have fun with it!

Additionally, utilize the bar wrap package’s exterior as a way to communicate key information about your product and your brand. Include nutritional facts and make sure to highlight words like “organic” and “gluten-free” if applicable. Don’t be afraid to flaunt what you’re made of – people want to know what they’re putting into their bodies.

Of course, don’t let your attention begin and end with a package’s design. The materials you use also matter. No one wants to lug around a bulky snack bar that takes almost as much time to unpack as it does to eat. Bar wraps, a form of flexible packaging are popular for many reasons: they’re light, easy to transport, and easy to dispose of when no longer needed. These bar wraps are also more sustainable than many other packaging options on the market, which is a huge plus for consumers striving to reduce their carbon footprints and improve upon their recycling habits.

Interested in exploring the growing snack bar market? We’d love to help. Label Technology offers a variety of flexible packaging options for your bar wraps which can be customized based on your needs. Contact us by phone or email to learn more about how your brand can stand out on the shelf.

by Madison Mederios. Madison is a freelance writer, contact her here.