The phenomenal growth in cereal bar sales has slowed slightly over the past year. Several manufacturers have entered the fray with new products - some more successful than others

Cereal bars, which have experienced phenomenal growth in recent years, continue to be in vogue, although growth has started to slow in the past year.
Sales of cereal bars increased 10.8% [TNS Worldpanel 52 w/e to November 6, 2005] compared with a 12.9% jump the previous year.
Perceived as a healthier snacking alternative to a chocolate bar, the £240.1m sector accounts for nearly 16% of the total cereals category and is still managing to attract new households as a result of its convenience factor and suitability as a snacking option throughout the day.
And the sector still has lots of scope for growth, according to Kellogg, manufacturer of brand leader Nutri-Grain. “Innovation continues to drive performance, but there are still a large number of consumers to attract with penetration of the sector at 55% of
UK households,” says UK sales director Jim McNeill.
Eager to build on the success of the sector, a number of manufacturers entered the fray in the past year, including Ryvita and Quaker.
Quaker launched Oat Bars in May 2005, supported by a £1.6m media programme. After what it says was a slower than anticipated distribution, the newcomer is off to a promising start and Quaker is planning to put another £1.6m behind it this year. “The range is now a top 10 healthy cereal bar and the most successful cereal bar launch of 2005,” says customer insights director Phil Norminton. “Sales and distribution is strengthening as growth in overall cereal bar segments slows in all but the healthy category.”
Also keen to get a slice of the market, Ryvita this month made its debut in the sector with the launch of Goodness bars, which it claims is healthier than its rivals.
“There has been a bit of a backlash on the health credentials of cereal bars, with consumers surprised to find certain bars are not as healthy as they thought,” says Laura Smith, category controller at Ryvita. “I think this has encouraged people to read the nutritional labelling so they know what they are getting.”
Elsewhere, Kellogg recently reformulated its brand-leading Nutri-Grain range to make it more suitable for the UK palate and claims that, as a result, the range recorded the highest shipments for two years last year.
It was a different story for Weetabix, which scrapped its 18-month-old Chunky Fruit bars after sales failed to live up to expectations due to a lack of ongoing marketing support.
Meanwhile, Natural Balance Foods recently launched two wholefood snack bar ranges, Trek and Nakd, that promote ethical causes.