Snack Bar Sales Declined During Social Distancing

However, the long-term growth of snacks appears to be unaffected by the pandemic.

May 22, 2020

NEW YORK—In March and April, sales of nutritional bars dropped, according to a Bernstein analysis, The Food Dive reports. As the coronavirus pandemic took root in the United States, sales of performance nutrition bars plummeted 20%, meal replacement bars decreased 17.9%, weight management bars dipped 11% and health and nutrition bars declined 5.8%.

During the same time period, the analysis discovered granola and cereal bars experienced significant growth in March after years of poor performance. But that subcategory had sales fall again in April.

Overall, from 2013 to 2016, snack bars, especially protein and meal replacement bars, ranked on the top in terms of dollar sales growth, according to Nielsen. But the quarantine has temporarily halted the acceleration in this category because nutritional and meal-replacement bars cater to those on-the-go—and many people are staying home.

But that doesn’t mean snacking has eased. Mondelez discovered 40% of people said they were consuming more snacks but are gobbling up familiar and trusted indulgent brands. That could indicate why granola and cereal brands are having a boost. Bernstein reported that General Mills’ Nature Valley granola bars registered a 32.5% bump in March sales, with Kind and Quaker bars experiencing a similar lift.

“During these uncertain times, having access to foods that were familiar in childhood allows consumers to recreate those feelings of pleasure and happiness, even while in quarantine,” The Food Dive wrote. But Bernstein also forecasted that meal replacement and nutrition bars would soon rise again as restrictions are eased.

While the coronavirus has disrupted shopping patterns of consumers for the time being, analysts, such as Bernstein, believe that as consumers revert to what they valued prior to the pandemic, popular items including natural, high protein and low carb ingredients will once again become staples, experiencing growth as before.