Raising the Bar

On-the-go folks keen on portion control enjoy a seemingly endless variety of healthy snack-bar options from distributors including Kellogg and General Mills
Anne Hong

Americans are going bar crazy, and not for the sort that purvey wine, beer, or salads. Rather, the ardor for snacks packed with cereal, nuts, and other things crunchy or chewy is growing. The latest iterations take bars to a healthier realm—they trumpet fiber, low calories, or multigrains, yet frequently add chocolate or fruit to make them a somewhat wholesome indulgence. Sales popped by 14% last year to $1.6 billion, according to market tracker ACNielsen, at least three times the growth rate of overall supermarket products. Consumers appreciate bars because they're convenient—they often substitute for a sit-down breakfast, compensate for a skipped lunch, or satisfy the need for a 3 p.m. sugar fix. Now the labels are proliferating as manufacturers carve out ever more narrow niches.

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