“We noticed that when it comes to protein, consumers are becoming more selective, and we’ve seen plant-based protein sources gain popularity as a result,” Nick Stiritz, senior brand manager at PowerBar, told FoodNavigator-USA.
The new line is more similar to a nut granola bar than most of PowerBar’s dense, whey protein-based ones. There are three varieties: Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cashew.
The main source of protein are cashews, almonds, or peanuts—depending on flavor—with added pea protein and rice protein crisps.
Formulating with plant protein
There’s a noticeable difference in protein content when comparing the plant-based bars (around 10g each) to PowerBar’s whey protein-based ones (20g each). But Stiritz said that the plant-based line wasn’t meant to be a replacement.
“We are seeking to diversify our product portfolio and offer products for various usage occasions,” he said. “Our 20g bars are great for post-workout recovery or providing a meal replacement. When you’re looking for a snack, the 10g of protein in our Plant Protein bar is the perfect amount that will provide needed energy and satiety without feeling too heavy.”
Stiritz also said that there is some bitterness with pea protein, “so our R&D team used healthy fats from nuts, pumpkin seeds and nut butters to enhance the flavor profile.”
PowerBar’s evolved portfolio under Post Holdings
Post Holdings acquired PowerBar from Nestlé back in 2014. At the time of purchase, analysts dubbed the brand ‘neglected’ and ‘infamously bad-tasting.’ Under Premier Nutrition Corporation, a subsidiary of Post Holdings, the PowerBar brand went through a complete overhaul in 2016 with new product launches, reformulation, and a wider target audience.
“PowerBar is no longer exclusively for the marathoner or triathlete. We’re broadening our consumer base to include all active players in the sports world,” Stiritz said. “With Plant Protein in particular, we’re looking to appeal to a more natural consumer who is looking for wholesome protein snacks.”
As part of the brand’s update, PowerBar’s new product launches reflect the current macro-trend shaping the sports and wellness nutrition industry. For example, it launched a Clean Whey line in August 2016, using only 2g of sugar per serving and eliminating artificial sweeteners.
“The new Plant Protein Bars are the first pea and rice protein-based bar from PowerBar, reinforcing our mission to evolve the product portfolio to meet the needs of today’s athlete with good energy and great taste,” Stiritz added.