The protein bar category is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6% between 2021 and 2025, largely because of demand for tasty snacks that can quell “carb-cravings” (Euromonitor International, 2021). However, there is a growing call on manufacturers to bridge the gap between health and indulgence, with 55% of consumers saying it is hard to find indulgent snacks they believe are healthy (HealthFocus International: Global Trend Study, 2020).
As the bar category becomes more competitive, manufacturers are looking for innovative ways to meet both these needs. Arla Foods Ingredients says one increasingly featured ingredient is peanut butter, which is familiar to consumers and offers indulgent taste as well as melt-in-the-mouth texture.
However, the use of a soft nut butter base in protein bars causes issues such as the risk of hardening over time, which can affect texture and shelf life. Arla Foods Ingredients’ new concept has been created to overcome this challenge by combining creamy peanut butter with Lacprodan SoftBar – a dairy and whey protein ingredient which allows bars to reach up to 37% protein content as well as delivering a soft texture.
The firm claims the resulting bar delivers an indulgent eating experience while still offering manufacturers opportunities to make claims such as 'high protein' and 'high in fibre'. The concept is also claimed to work in maltitol-free bars and has performed well in shelf-life stability tests.
Joe Katterfield, Sales Development Manager, Health & Performance Nutrition, at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “The demand for healthy indulgence is especially apparent in the bar category. Nutritional value, protein content in particular, is more important than ever, but products that don’t deliver an enjoyable consumer experience won’t be purchased a second time – especially when there are so many alternatives available.
"Peanut butter is a great choice because of its flavour and texture profile, and when manufacturers pair it with Lacprodan SoftBar they can create indulgent bars without sacrificing functionality.”
The new concept can be used by manufacturers as it is, or as a basis for recipes with different flavour combinations or nut butter varieties.
Joe Katterfield added: “We’re always looking to expand our technological capabilities and we were particularly excited to commission our new bar line. It’s optimised to replicate industrial mixing, extrusion and enrobing processes, as well as flow-wrapping into the wrapper, and it will increase our understanding of the production processes used by the industry today. This will further improve the expert support we offer bar manufacturers and reinforce our position as the go-to partner for specialised dairy and whey protein ingredients.”