Are your protein bars built to last?

Over the past decade, protein bars have played an increasingly important role as a convenient solution for grab-and-go nutrition, particularly as consumer interest in exercise and physical activity has surged.

Consumers view time as their most valuable asset and have adopted more fluid eating patterns, often turning to bars as a meal replacement snack. Convenience is more important than ever in food, and consumers are willing to spend more on pre-prepared products that save time on cooking. 

This has placed a premium on satiety and allowed disruptive new brands to drive rapid growth with high-protein claims. Protein became critical in this new role for bars, and global launches of bars with a high or added protein claim increased by almost 240% over the past 5 years (Figure 1). 

Figure 1: The increase in global protein bar launches over the past 5 years.

Additionally, the global protein bar market grew at a rate of 8.8% CAGR over the past 5 years from a value of $3.9B in 2014 to $6B in 2019, and it is set to grow at 7% CAGR to 2024. *(Euromonitor data 2020) . 

Focus on flavour

Figure 2 ranks the top twenty most popular protein bar flavours in 2019. So-called ’brown’ flavours continue to feature heavily on the hot list and coconut and nut profiles are also growing in popularity. However, we know that  Game Changer consumers are always on the go and love to try new things, with savvy consumers actively seeking the latest nutritional science delivered in new and interesting formats and flavours. For example, not listed in the top 20 but experiencing growth are Peach and Apricot (+300%) and Sugar Flavours (+400%). 

Figure 2: Top 20 protein bar flavours

With such emphasis on flavours in protein bars, a key challenge for manufacturers is ensuring that the taste and texture of their products is maintained throughout shelf life. 

To determine the performance of protein bars in terms of hardness and flavour intensity over shelf life, Synergy recently conducted a study that used Accelerated Shelf Life Testing, which predicts a food product’s real shelf life, based on its performance at conditions that speed up the product’s deterioration, like increased temperature. The testing model for protein bar cores predicted that 1 week at 32.5°C can be used to approximate 1 month at 20°C. This model was validated in protein bars showing a close approximation to real-time shelf life data.

Flavour trend research forecasts the future flavours for protein bars

With such high demand for innovation in sports nutrition products, it is important for flavour companies to stay ahead of the curve to provide a range of options to excite the growing consumer demographic and deliver value to compete in the growing high-protein market. Synergy’s Flavours of the Future research has used flavour zeitgeists, trend data, and inspiration from influential bloggers, food writers and futurologists to identify a ‘hot list’ of trending flavours in and around the Mediterranean. With influences from Asia, Europe and Africa, the Mediterranean region is a melting pot of people and cultures, so what better place to go on our journey of discovery for the latest flavour trends? We predict that the flavours that made the final cut have the potential to enhance the taste and flavour of protein bars, as well as other sports nutrition products over the coming years. 

Below is a list of the ten flavours which we have predicted to be the up and coming flavours in the sports nutrition category.

Synergy’s approach to flavour creation involves characterising the attributes of a desired profile and creating an impactful, authentic flavour that is compatible with the given application. To ensure we add value with the development of flavours, we work collaboratively with customers to offer a customised service, using our research and development expertise and flavour characteristic insights to enhance and fine-tune taste. 

Based on the scientific findings from our research and supported by our internal flavour expertise we have developed a range of the top ten most popular flavours tailored for protein bar formulation. Contact us to find out more about our protein bars.