Snacking has disrupted the conventions around how people eat. Consumers now snack almost constantly, blurring the line between what constitutes a snack and what constitutes a meal, according to Mintel. The idea of a snack as something consumed between meals only has evolved.

In the United States, research shows that 62% of healthy snackers say they sometimes eat snacks in place of a meal. This “snackification” of our eating habits is driving incredible growth in the sector, according to Kerry.

North America is the leading market for protein bars, according to Kerry’s Protein Bar White Paper. More than half (52%) snack bar consumers in North America recognize protein content as one of the most important characteristics.

Also of note, 71% of consumers associate plant protein as healthy, compared with 42% linking animal-derived protein as healthy.

For bakeries, one of the best ways to capitalize on this growing trend for snack bars is to invest in efficient and productive equipment.

Reiser and Vemag have designed a variety of bar extruding and bar forming systems for all types of applications and production requirements. This solution combines a Vemag Portioner with a bar shape forming extruding attachment. A Reiser-engineered waterwheel flow divider is added for multiple-lane production. Use the Vemag Bar Former to produce all types of formed and extruded bar products – cookie bars, energy bars, nutrition bars and more.

At the heart of the system lies the Vemag Portioner. The Vemag features a powerful, positive displacement double-screw pump that provides the highest levels of portioning accuracy. The double-screw transports product extremely gently and without smearing or crushing large, delicate particulates.

The Reiser-engineered Waterwheel attachment is a flow divider that connects to the Vemag Portioner. The Waterwheel divides the product flow into multiple lanes with equal portions from each outlet. Weight accuracy is guaranteed across each lane.

Reiser's Bar Extruder attachment produces a continuous flow of formed product with consistent thickness and width. The extruder's integrated cutoff device controls the length of the product and ensures exact-weight portions with clean, even edges. The Bar Extruder is designed for easy changeover from one shape to another.

As with many other food categories, consumers are increasingly scrutinizing the ingredient lists of snack bars and seeking to avoid those with artificial additives. The share of snack bar launches with a natural claim peaked in 2017 at 58% and has not declined since, according to Kerry. However, many of the launches still contain ingredients consumers seek to avoid, such as emulsifiers.

Considering the historic negative image of protein bars due to perception of being highly processed and with high sugar recipes, brands are now being pressured to reformulate with simpler ingredients and be more transparent about recipes and on-pack information.