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Make Room for Artisan Bars

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The $4 billion food bar category is dominated by functional options. Look at any snack aisle or checkout display and you’ll see energy bars, breakfast bars, nutrition bars — and nowadays, even pregnancy bars.

bar.jpgTo stand out from the crowd, some companies have gone back to the drawing board to focus a different, completely radical concept: taste.

“People say they’re looking for all sorts of things in a bar, but when it comes down to it they want to enjoy eating it,” said Frankie Whitman, vice president of marketing at Full Bloom Baking Company, a wholesale baking business based in Newark, California.

It was this thought that led Full Bloom and others to develop “artisan” bars that emphasize unique, gourmet ingredients and a handmade style of production. This fall, Full Bloom released a 12-grain toasted oatmeal bar. The company is also working on a cranberry almond bar made with ancient grains, and a bacon cornflake bar. That’s right, a bacon cornflake bar.

“They all use pretty unusual ingredients,” said Whitman. “They’re not mass produced.”

The new direction is similar to the one taken by chocolate bar companies, who several years ago began focusing on gourmet ingredients like high-quality cocoa, and since 2003 have seen sales increase by more than 200%, according to Packaged Facts. Nutrition bar sales, meanwhile, increased 3.5% last year, and breakfast bars saw 10% sales growth, per data from The Nielsen Company.

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