New sports snacks aim to amp up performance

by Lynn Petrak
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When it comes to sports nutrition, the playing field isn’t as level as it used to be. For one thing, there is a greater variety of products geared for athletes, whether they work out on the weekends or are in training for marathons or intensely competitive events. At the same time, traditional sports-related snacks are evolving to include new formats, flavors and packaging.

As one can see from driving past soccer fields and baseball diamonds on weekend mornings or watching any number of 24/7 sports channels and websites, athletic pursuits have become as all-American as, well, baseball. While they are not eating apple pie every day, sports participants are fueling up with a lot of different snacks in on-the-go packaging. According to a report from Portland, OR-based Allied Market Research, the global sports nutrition market is expected to top $33.6 billion by 2020.

Accordingly, more new sports-related products are entering the game, including from well-established brands. The packaging for many of these products also reflects the changing nature of sports nutrition items.

For example, PowerBar, acquired in 2014 by Post Holdings, Inc., is undergoing a major brand revitalization that includes new products and packaging. New products include a Reduced Sugar PowerBar Protein Plus Bar, sold in a package with bright blue colors and large product photos, and PowerBar Simple Fruit Energy Food, a gel puree with real fruit blended with fructose and glucose, sold in an easy-to-open, squeezable package with a boldly colored background and high-impact photography.

Doug Cornille, vice-president of marketing, PowerBar, said that the new products and packages deliver on what today’s active consumers want.  “We are improving all of our products to meet consumer demands for the right macronutrients, lower sugar, whole food ingredients, easy-to-understand labels and superior taste,” he stated.

Another top nutrition bar brand, Clif Bar, offers an “Athletes” line for active consumers. Many of these products are non-traditional in format and packaging, such as Bloks Energy Chews, which come in 33-Cal cubes packaged in a narrow tear-off flexible package. The line also includes Clif Shot Energy Gels that provide quick energy to athletes in a unique format called Litter Leash packaging. That packaging features a patented design that allows a tear tab to stay attached to the bottom of the package after use, preventing litter along roads and trails. The packaging is also athlete-friendly, with a smaller opening and rounded corners for easy carrying and opening.

Another new take on the nutrition bar comes from GU Energy Labs, which has come out with a new “stick” made with mostly organic and gluten-free ingredients in a narrower bar size and shape that can be easily put into a hydration pack or belt or bike jersey pocket. The sticks are sold individually in a 12-oz easy-open wrapper or in a package of 12.

In addition to bars, sports nutrition is taking other forms. An example is I WON! protein chips, available in single-serve bags. Varieties include Cinnamon French Toast, Sriracha, Sea Salt, BBQ and Ranch.
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