Cereal & Bars — Protein Punch | McCormick Flavor Solutions
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Cereal & Bars — Protein Punch


Breakfast has long held the title of ‘the most important meal of the day.’ It’s hardly surprising then, that many consumers are seeking breakfast foods that are rich in all the essentials, especially protein. For an on-the-go pick-me-up or healthy start to the day, protein-packed cereals and bars aren’t going anywhere.

Why This Trend Will Stick

Working With Other Diet Trends

Innovations in better-for-you cereals—particularly those with a nutritional profile suitable to gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, or keto diets—are also avenues to renew the customer base.

— Packaged Facts

Supporting Busy Lifestyles

Many consumers maintain the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and they look for protein in order to ensure all-day energy.

— Advanced Biotech

Here are the microtrends we see in this trend:

  • Plant-Based Protein
  • Chilled Protein
  • Keto & Paleo

Plant-Based Protein

As more people seek out alternatives to meat to get their protein, consumers are increasingly receptive to plant-based protein bars. Naturally, many of the flavor pairings tend to be health-focused with matcha, mulberry, pecan, tahini, lemon, and cranberry. But these products can also have an indulgent side featuring flavors such as chocolate, cookie dough, and peanut butter.

Perfect Bars are a great example of plant-based protein bars that don’t skimp on rich, powerful flavors. Packed with 20+ superfoods, these good-for-you, good tasting bars feature flavors such as candy cane, dark chocolate chip peanut butter, coconut peanut butter, and salted caramel.

Lupii’s snack bars combine decadence with traditional health flavors in their high-protein products. Their bars are made from lupini beans, a legume with 3x more protein than eggs. In addition to their high protein content, Lupii promotes a variety of other health benefits for lupini beans including having a low glycemic impact, being low in fat, and high in potassium. Lupii’s packs come in three flavors: peanut butter cacao nib, almond butter cinnamon raisin, and tahini lemon cranberry.

Chilled Protein

This new type of protein bar is too cool for the grocery store shelves, literally. Found in the refrigerated section, these bars are often made with perishable ingredients such as butter, dry milk, and egg whites. Nuts are popular ingredients in chilled bars, specifically almonds, peanuts, cashews, and hazelnuts. In a close second are berries, particularly cranberries and blueberries.

Wella Organics’ Chilled Protein Bars feature all of the above ingredients with flavors including Cranberry Crunch, Awesome Almond, and Peanut Cacao. Each bar also features milk protein and egg whites for an extra boost.

Another chilly option is the KIND Nut Butter Filled Snack Bar. KIND boasts that the top ingredient in their bars is nut butter, either peanut or almond. Their bars are also marketed as gluten-free, kosher, and non-GMO, touching on some other major trends in the food industry. With a simple selection of flavors, including chocolate peanut butter, honey almond butter, and creamy peanut butter, these snacks pack lots of health benefits into one small bar.

Keto & Paleo

The keto and paleo diets aren’t going anywhere, especially when it comes to bars. These complex diets are made simple with prepackaged snacks that are guaranteed to meet each diet’s specifications.

With an emphasis on healthy fats, the needs of these diets are also very conducive to bars. It’s no surprise that nuts such as almonds, pecans, coconuts, macadamias, cashews, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are prominently featured, as well as seeds including pumpkin, sunflower, flax, and chia. As with other protein bars, fruits, berries, and herbs are also relatively common ingredients.

Highkey’s low-carb, keto-friendly granola features a variety of healthy, delicious ingredients including coconut oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, and cinnamon. They sell their granola in two sweet flavors: maple pecan or cinnamon almond, both boasting the protein power of nuts.

Another crunchy option is Lil Bucks, a grain-free, vegan-friendly paleo granola made from buckwheat seeds. Lil Bucks not only promotes their versatile products as good breakfast foods, but also as salad toppings and ice cream add-ins. This simple granola comes in a few basic flavors including plain, matcha, cacao, and cinnamon, making it easy to add to a wide variety of foods.

Besides granola, there are other bars that meet the needs of keto and paleo eaters. Scramblers sells a keto-friendly, portable breakfast bar made from free-range whole eggs, making it easy for consumers to get their protein on the go. Their bars come in two classic flavors: spinach and feta, and ham and cheddar. Surprisingly, these bars are vacuum-sealed to ensure they don’t require refrigeration, giving them a long shelf life and making storage easy.


  • Protein is no longer focused on meat and animal sources; consumers are more than willing to take a chance on plant-based protein options.
  • There is a huge opportunity to mix and match flavor combinations, choosing two or three main ingredients to make a distinct flavor profile.
  • With the continued popularity of keto and paleo, an emphasis on healthy fat sources such as nuts and seeds will draw in consumers.


To get started on your next protein-packed innovation, contact your McCormick account manager or contact us today.