by Matt Weik
More and more candy bar manufacturers are seeing what’s going on in the market and how in demand protein is in the American diet. With that being said, they too are tossing their hat in the ring in hopes of seeing their sales sky-rocket with a “healthy alternative” to their traditional candy bars. But, what does this mean to the supplement industry as a whole when brands are putting out candy bars, at a lower price point, with the inclusion of protein? I can see both sides of the fence on this one. I can see it hurting to an extent, but then again, I can’t see it destroying or changing the landscape of the supplement market.
What is MULO-C (or xAOC Incl Conv)?
Let’s start here since it’s a term not many people are probably familiar with. MULO-C and xAOC Incl Conv stand for what is composed in a multi-channel market. So, for instance you can look at FDMx or AOC which looks at food/grocery, drug, and mass market. But then you have many other channels that are left out such as Walmart, Club or Wholesalers such as BJ’s and Sam’s, Dollar channels such as Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Fred’s Dollar, and then the entire convenience store (c-store) piece of the equation.
MULO-C or xAOC Incl Conv includes everything mentioned above. So, anywhere that a candy bar could be sold, is found under this umbrella. You’ll see candy bars at your grocery store, corner shops, gas stations, convenience stores, wholesalers, drug stores, dollar stores, etc.
How this could potentially hurt the supplement industry
Large candy bar manufacturers are now dipping their toes into the supplement industry by including protein in their new candy bars (separate from their traditional candy bars). You can find Snickers with protein, Bounty with protein, Mars bar with protein, and now Milky Way with protein.
What could this mean for the supplement industry? Well, for starters, we saw what happened when Coca-Cola and Pepsi got into the game and started producing their own protein shakes. It dried up raw materials, and due to the demand, it raised the price on protein as well. We saw price hikes on the manufacturer, retailer, and consumer side of the market. The same thing could happen, again, as more candy bar manufacturers come on board with the idea and start including a bar that has a good amount of protein.
The new Milky Way bar is still the same bar for the most part, but with the inclusion of 19g of protein and 183 calories. That’s actually not TOO bad all things considered—especially since it’s still a candy bar.
People who don’t care about their health might buy the bar thinking it’s a “healthy” bar and try to justify leaving the old bar in the dust for the new (assuming the taste is the same). But, it also comes down to price. How much more expensive will the bar with 19g of protein be compared to the older traditional Milky Way bar?
The packaging is definitely different. If you remember the old brown Milky Way wrapper, the new bar with protein has a white and silver wrapper with other colors including blues as well as what looks like a rainbow of colors circling the name (pop of color I guess?).
Mars brand is really stepping up their game and trying something new, so I must tip my hat that they are thinking outside the box. So many brands get stuck doing the same thing over and over again expecting a new or different outcome. I’m sure many unhealthy people buying the traditional Milky Way bar will make the change to the new bar thinking it’s a healthier option and that it can help them lose weight since it “has protein in it.”
Why this won’t change the supplement industry
Let’s face it, people buying candy bars are not generally the same demographic as people buying protein bars. So, to think that those buying MET-Rx, Quest, FitJoy, etc. bars will stop buying those and switch over to a candy bar with protein is absurd.
However, let’s not forget that many of the protein bars on the market these days are indeed glorified candy bars. Manufacturers are trying to clean up the profiles, but as a whole, “protein bars” are really just candy bars with a lot of protein added to them (and not all of them include quality protein either).
Supplement manufacturers will go on running their business as if nothing has changed at all. They won’t be taking steps backwards to try and compete with brands like Mars.
People who go to the grocery store or convenience store for candy bars could very well pick up the new candy bars with added protein like the new Milky Way, but those customers were never buying Big100 Colossal bars or Detour bars, so the supplement industry isn’t “losing sales” since they never had them to begin with.
On the other hand, maybe it will open up people’s eyes into trying real protein bars, not the candy variety. If they try the Snickers with protein, maybe they like the taste and will try some actual protein bars that sound appetizing? Who knows?
Maybe candy bar manufacturers adding protein to their products will have it blow up in their face since they are introducing protein to those who generally probably don’t focus on it. That could give them enough confidence to go eat healthier, buy items higher in protein, add protein bars or shakes to their diet, and even start an exercise program.
In the end, what will this change?
Nothing really. Possibly cause unhealthy people to eat more unhealthy bars simply because it has the word “protein” on it. Or it could make people realize that protein is good and will change their behaviors.
Brands like Mars will probably see a spike in sales. I’m sure “healthy” individuals will buy a candy bar with protein like the new Milky Way or Snickers with protein just to try it and see how the taste compares. But other than that, I don’t see much changing in terms of the supplement industry.