ENERGY BARS, DRINKS IGNITE EXPO

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Energy bars and nutritional drinks are seeing continued growth, as evidenced by new products introduced here last month at Natural Products Expo West.According to SPINS, San Francisco, dollar sales of energy bars in food stores for the 12 months ended December 1998 were $78 million, up 53.5% from the previous year. Food stores dominate the bulk of mainstream sales, but drug and

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Energy bars and nutritional drinks are seeing continued growth, as evidenced by new products introduced here last month at Natural Products Expo West.

According to SPINS, San Francisco, dollar sales of energy bars in food stores for the 12 months ended December 1998 were $78 million, up 53.5% from the previous year. Food stores dominate the bulk of mainstream sales, but drug and mass merchants are gaining, said SPINS, which uses ACNeilsen ScanTrack data.

"There's a battle for shelf space right now," said Jean Dickinson, an account supervisor at Hill & Knowlton, Los Angeles, representing Balance Bar, of Carpinteria, Calif.

"Retailers are deciding where to position the bar and the beverage. Some are putting the bar with snack foods and candy. It is our hope that these ready-to-drink beverages will be on the shelf near the other ready-to-drink items, like V-8 [and other good-for-you-drinks]," she said.

New at the show was Total Balance nutritional drink, which comes in four flavors: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and mocha. The drink has about 230 calories in a 9.5 ounce can. Like the bars, the drinks provide 40% of calories from carbohydrates and 30% each from protein and fat. Suggested retail is $1.49 to $1.79.

SportPharma of Concord, Calif., introduced its new Promax Bar flavor, Lemon Chiffon. "We started in the body-building niche," said Harun Simbirdi, director of sales, speaking to SN at the show. "We soon found that 90% of the sales were outside that niche." The company now sells internationally in Australia, New Zealand, the Far East, South America and Europe, although most business is stateside, Simbirdi said.

Worldwide Sport Nutrition, Largo, Fla., makers of Pure Protein sports bars and cookies, recently introduced the bars to supermarkets. They are meant as meal replacements and contain 280 calories and 21 grams of protein.

PowerBar, Berkeley, Calif., introduced PowerBar Essentials, a new line of energy bars with a proprietary blend of five herbs. They also have 21 vitamins and minerals and are available in four flavors: Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Fruit and Yogurt, Chocolate and Chocolate Peanut Butter.

PowerBar also launched two sports performance drinks, Perform and Perform Plus, and two new flavors in the PowerBar Harvest line, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Blueberry.

Think!Bars brought a bright red Volkswagen beetle to the show and filled it with products. The car also sported a picture of the Think!Bar package on the door. Herbs are in all products. The company debuted the Super Think!Bar and launched PS Bars for vegans in four flavors.

Clif Bar, Berkeley, Calif., introduced Luna, a nutrition bar designed for women. With 170 to 180 calories, it supplies folic acid, calcium, soy protein and 22 vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants. Luna, slated to reach grocers' shelves this summer, comes in four flavors: Chocolate Pecan Pie, LemonZest, Nutz Over Chocolate and Trail Mix.

All 10 flavors of Clif Bar have been certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. The bars will reach retailers with the kosher seal this summer.