DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS — The market for nutrition bars is growing in line with or possibly even ahead of the market for cereal as the result of growing demand for healthy and convenient on-the-go snacks, according to Innova Market Insights.

“While convenience is the leading positioning for cereal bars overall, used on over 90% of total launches in the sector, health has also been a key driver,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova. “This is not only in terms of the importance of nutrition and performance bars, but also in the perception of offering a healthier snack alternative to products such as confectionery, biscuits and cakes.”

More than 75% of global introductions for the year ended April 2013 were marketed on a health platform, which may vary from natural, organic, and low-calorie to vitamin-fortified, digestive health, and weight management. In the United States, more than 85% of introductions during the year were marketed on this platform, and in Australasia this rate was at more than 90%.

More than 22% of global launches were positioned on sports/recovery or energy/alertness platforms, but this was down from just under 50% in 2005. This illustrates how the drivers of the market have shifted to a more general positioning as a healthy snack or meal replacement.

The most common health claims in this category are related to clean label with 27% of launches using additive and preservative free or natural claims, or both. This rate increases to more than 38% if organic claims are included. Fiber claims are made in 25% of introductions or 31% if whole grain claims are included.

MS. Williams said growth in the market is the result of how it has become more mainstream.

“The cross-pollination between more specialist nutrition and performance bars on the one hand and more mainstream cereal and snack bars on the other has been key to continued growth in the market as a whole,” Ms. Williams said. “Healthier ingredients and formulations add value to the standard bars market, while improved taste profiles, more indulgent flavors and a more everyday lifestyle positioning support the desired nutritional properties in the performance sector.”