A key trend in product development, protein has gained prominence in new snacks, especially in the bar category. Linked with satiety and weight management benefits, protein has become increasingly appealing to consumers. Natural product developers are exploring new ways to deliver protein with an eye on calorie reduction and convenience, as well as allergy-free alternatives to such traditional sources as soy and dairy. Many examples were on display during the Natural Products Expo West, held March 6-9 in Anaheim.

Among some of the more cutting-edge products displayed were bars formulated with pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, quinoa and pecans as sources of protein. But for those looking for bars on the fringe, a line of new energy bars from Chapul, Salt Lake City, are made with organic dates, peanuts, oats and milled brown crickets. Yes, crickets. While insects won’t soon be infesting mainstream products, cricket flour does provide a lean and sustainable source of protein.

According to Chapul, insects require fewer land resources, emit fewer greenhouse gasses and require less water than livestock, soy, corn and rice.