What you need to know

Snack, nutrition, and performance bars comprised one of the food categories to post sales declines in 2020 (dipping nearly 6%), hamstrung by a reduction in away-from-home activity for which bars typically shine. However, key drivers of the mature category remain strong and a rebound is forecast for 2021. Widespread interest in healthier snacks and functional foods as well as holistic healthy living trends should drive positive, stable growth through 2025. Opportunities will hinge on how suppliers respond to diverse, and sometimes competing, demands as consumers seek new flavors, healthy indulgence, functional benefits and high value propositions.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on snack, nutrition and performance bars

  • Role of bars in consumers’ overall diet

  • Reasons behind consumption changes in the category

  • Desired amounts of protein and sugar in bars


For the purposes of this Report, snack, nutrition, and performance bars are defined as:

  • Snack bars: cereal and snack bars, such as Quaker Chewy; and granola bars, such as Nature Valley

  • Nutrition bars: health/nutrition bars, including food bars that contain additional nutrients, such as fiber, protein (nonathletic), calcium, etc; also includes bars positioned as meal replacements (non-weight loss)

  • Performance bars: athletic bars used for fuel during athletic endeavors or to enhance physical fitness or exercise, such as PowerBar; includes performance-focused protein bars

  • Weight loss bars: bars meant for diet and weight loss/weight management, such as Slim-Fast and Zone bars

Value figures throughout this Report are at retail selling prices, excluding sales tax, unless otherwise stated.

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, former President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, remaining in place through May, and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, nonessential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations.

During re-emergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021, until vaccinations are more widely available.

Economic and other assumptions

This forecast and subsequent Report assumes the following:

  • Unemployment is expected to sit at 5.7% in 2021, followed by incremental improvements over the next four years.

  • US GDP will increase 4.6% in 2021, followed by continuous increases until 2025.

  • Consumer confidence rests at 76.2 as of February 2021. This is a 4.4-point improvement from its low of 71.8 in April 2020, but a 4.5-point decline from December 2020, indicating that while the economy is expected to improve, consumer confidence is wavering and may continue to do so until economic recovery remains consistent.

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