An emerging trend at the May 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo was energy bites or balls as a snackable alternative to energy and protein bars. It’s also a trend NOSH noticed specifically for protein balls at the March 2018 Natural Products Expo West, writing “Once a niche product targeting athletes, protein bars are now marketed as “wellness” products targeting mainstream consumers. These shoppers don’t necessarily need or want an entire bar’s worth of product and want more control of exactly how much protein they’re consuming.”
Bites and balls typically come in resealable bags and are promoted as a convenient grab-and-go snack.
Let’s look at some of the available options:
• Bounce Protein Energy Bites are available in Cacao Orange, Coconut Cranberry, and Sweet & Salty Almond. The bites are vegetarian and gluten free and contain whey protein.
• Also with whey protein are simplyFUEL Protein Balls. The balls’ ingredients include gluten free oats. Flavors include Brownie Batter, Chocolate Almond Coconut, and Peanut Butter Honey Almond.
• Getting away from the whey are Thrive Tribe Paleo Bites from 1908 Brands. The bites are grain free, gluten free, vegan, and dairy free. The main ingredients are whole fruits, nuts, seeds, coconut, and honey. Flavors include Banana Chip, Apricot Pecan, Ginger Spice, Apple Cinnamon, and Maple Walnut.
Other companies promoting their bites as paleo include:
• Hail Merry Bites’ ingredients include maple syrup, shredded coconut, organic virgin coconut oil, and nuts.
• Nomz uses nuts, dates, cocoa, coconut oil, and sea salt.
• Purely Paleo contains nuts, seeds, and raw honey.
• Creation Nation sells a mix for making paleo energy bites at home.
Here a few companies promoting their products as vegan:
• Sattva Vida makes vegan, grain free, gluten free bites without added sugar. The bites are sweetened with date paste the company makes by blending a variety of dates. The five available flavors are Peanut Envy, Cocoa Craze, Key Lime Love, Off the Walnut, and Chia Crunch.
• Siren Protein Bites are vegan, gluten free, and sweetened with a proprietary blend of natural sweeteners including monk fruit, stevia, and dates.
• TeaSquares are caffeinated energy bites made with organic tea and ingredients such as puffed millet, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. The bites are vegan, dairy free, and gluten free. Flavors include Citrus Green Tea Matcha, Acai Blueberry Tea, and Vanilla Chai.
• Allergen free snack-maker Enjoy Life offers protein bites with up to six grams plant based protein per serving. Flavors include Dark Raspberry, Chocolate Banana, Cinnamon Spice, Mango Habanero, and Cranberry Orange. They contain cane sugar.
• Kellogg’s Special K Protein Bites are soy- and peanut-based, with a number of other ingredients.
For the meat-eaters, Union offers a line of meat-based bites, including Pork Pineapple Sriracha, Beef Blueberry Cacao, and Biltong Mango Curry. Epic, Tanka, and Caveman Foods also sell meat bites.
“I think people are looking for something new and tasty,” SimplyFuel founder Mitzi Dulan told NOSH. “Most protein bars are not delicious and in the past people have just accepted the fact that most protein bars taste nasty. Today, people want a clean ingredient list, quality nutrition, and great tasting snacks all in one and if you can make fun, even better.”