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Carob bars vs Chocolate Bars: Which One is Better?

Consumer Goods and Retail | Aug, 2023

Chocolate bars have long ruled the snack market but that seems to slowly change now. The increasing popularity of plant-based eating, spurred by the spike in chronic disorders and rise in awareness of sustainable and ethical food choices, has led to the emergence of many food products that deliver nutritional value as well as taste to the consumers. Carob bars are emerging as a popular healthy snack alternative due to their high nutritional content, low fat content, allergen-free nature, and natural sweetness. Carob bars are made from carob, a natural, plant-based ingredient derived from the pods of the carob tree (Ceratonia Siliqua), native plant to the eastern Mediterranean. Unlike chocolate which contains theobromine and caffeine, carob bars are free from any stimulants, which makes them an ideal option for those looking for a non-stimulant alternative. Besides, people with allergies or sensitivities to cocoa or dairy since it is free from common allergens like milk and nuts. Moreover, carob is a rich source of dietary fibre, which can support digestive health and help maintain the insulin levels in the body. All these factors are attributing to the popularity of carob bars and adding to their market growth.

Here are some of the more factors contributing to the growth of carob bar market.

Emergence of Carob Bars in Innovative Flavors

While carob bars have been around for a while, their emergence in different flavours has been an ongoing trend of diversifying food options to cater to various tastes and dietary preferences. Carob bars with a pure and unadulterated carob flavour taste similar to milk chocolate, but less sweet. Manufacturers are introducing carob bars in unique flavours such as mint, almond, orange, coconut, espresso, peanut butter, sea salt, etc. to provide consumers a wide variety of choices. Naturally Good Carob Bars specializes in offering carob bars in almond and peppermint flavours. Gopal’s Healthfoods produces organic and raw carob bars that combines the natural sweetness of figs. Orange Almond Carob Bar combines carob, chopped almonds, and natural orange flavour, reminiscent of orange-chocolate experience without cocoa. Spiced Chai Carob Bar have a warm blend of carob, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, inspired by the ingredients used in the masala chai. Coconut Matcha Caron bar pairs shredded coconut with matcha green powder, which offers tropical and energizing taste. Lavender Vanilla Carob Bars offers a soothing blend of lavender, carob, natural vanilla, which creates a unique flavour profile. Smoky Maple Pecan Carob Bar infuses carob, smoked sea salt, maple syrup, and toasted pecans, which provide a savoury-sweet, delightful experience. Espresso Hazelnut Carob Bar includes coffee extract and crunchy hazelnut pieces to deliver a coffee-shop inspired treat without cocoa. Salted Caramel Macademia Carob Bar involves carob with creamy caramel and roasted macademia nuts, which offers a luxurious experience on the tongue. The greater availability of carob bars on online platforms and retail chains are also adding to the increasing popularity of carob bars. Thus, the introduction of carob bars in unique flavours are adding variety and increasing their appeal in the consumer market as people want to explore new taste sensations while keeping their health in check.

Increasing Interest in Sustainable and Ethical Consumption

As consumers are focusing more on sustainability, they are looking for environment-friendly food options. Carob trees are well adapted to arid and semi-arid regions and thus require less water compared to crops like cocoa. Besides, carob can thrive in poor soil conditions and thus they can help prevent soil erosion by making them a more sustainable option for cultivation. As carob is naturally caffeine-free and theobromine-free, their demand is gradually increasing than cocoa. This can potentially reduce the pressure on tropical rainforests and protect biodiversity in cocoa-producing regions. Carob bars have a lower carbon footprint since they do not require water and fewer greenhouse gases are associated with carob cultivation and processing. Besides, growing carob trees in regions including the Mediterranean, Middle East and certain parts of North Africa and Asia can support local farmers in these areas and thus contribute to sustainable livelihoods. In September 2022, a key player in the Carob bar market, CarobWay announced that it will grow and export carob in a sustainable manner. Furthermore, carob bars are naturally free from allergens such as gluten or soy and is often used as a cocoa substitute in vegan recipes. Hence, the rising demand for plant-based products is making carob bars a popular choice among individuals with dietary restrictions or ethical preferences. Sustainable packaging practices are also becoming the focus of manufacturers, so they are adopting eco-friendly packaging solutions, which are enticing environmentally conscious consumers concerned about single-use plastic and wastage. As sustainability concerns continue to influence consumer choices, carob bars will offer a potentially attractive alternative to cocoa-based products.

Inclusion of Functional Ingredients in Carob Bars

Carob bar manufacturers are incorporating functional ingredients to enhance their nutritional value to cater to health-conscious population and differentiate their products from traditional and less nutritious snacks. They are adding ingredients such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and even superfoods such as chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds, which are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, consumption of functional-ingredient rich carob bars leads to improved digestion, better heart health, and increased energy. Besides, some manufacturers are also adding protein powder, collagen, or probiotics to boost carob bars’ nutritional content. For instance, Nutty Superfood Carob Bar consists of a blend of carob, almonds, chia seeds, and goji berries, where in chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids while goji berries add antioxidants and vitamins. Digestive Wellness Carob Bar comes with flaxseeds and probiotics, which contribute fiber and essential fatty acids whereas probiotics enhances gut health. Collagen-infused Carob Delight involves a mix of carob, coconut, and collagen peptides which support skin, joint, and bone health. Antioxidant-Rich Carob Berry Bliss includes a mix of carob, mixed berries, and hemp seeds, wherein hemp seeds provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and thus contribute to antioxidant benefits. These examples showcase how manufacturers are creatively combining functional ingredients with carob to create a nutritious and appealing snack options for health-conscious consumers. Enhanced focus of population towards health and wellness is expected to drive the growth of carob bar market in the coming years.

Effective Marketing and Branding Strategies by Key Players

Effective marketing and branding strategies are highlighting the nutritional benefits, sustainability, and unique qualities of carob bars, which can significantly boost the consumer interest and drive demand. Branding by carob bar manufacturers is emphasized towards portraying carob bars as a healthy snack, rich in fiber and containing essential nutrients, which make them a lucrative alternative to chocolate bars. Besides, rapid urbanization and highly stressful lifestyle are contributing to the adoption of healthy foods and brands are marketing carob bars as a power booster and healthy snack, free of caffeine. Marketing strategies often include designing engaging content to demonstrate the nutritional benefits and leveraging influencers to reach wider audiences. Although health-conscious populations seek snacks with nutritional profile, they do not want to compromise on the taste. Hence, some brands are also focusing on portraying that carob bars are no different than chocolate bars in terms of taste or texture, and even better due to its low sweet profile. Thus, effective marketing and branding strategies are likely to add to the growth of carob bars market.

Rising Prevalence of Chronic Disorders

Around the globe, the prevalence of chronic disorders such as diabetes, obesity, hyperthyroidism, cardiovascular disorders, etc. is growing at a rapid rate. Unhealthy lifestyle and dietary choices are the top contributing factors to the growing incidences of chronic diseases. Hence, population are making health pro choices and taking into consideration the nutritional content of food products likely to affect their diet. Carob bars, being low in fat and sweet content can eliminate the sweet cravings without affecting the insulin levels, which is great for people suffering from diabetes. Additionally, the high levels of vitamins such as vitamin A, and B-12 in carob bars enhance skin and eye health. Most studies suggest that insoluble fibres and microconstituents and phenolic compounds in carob bars provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Carob contains calcium, an important mineral for strengthening bone health and keep the functioning of heart, nerves, and muscles well whereas cocoa used in chocolate bars contain oxalates, which reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Moreover, carob is rich in fiber, so it cuts down on cholesterol levels and remove them from the body, which is good for heart health. Due to the health benefits of carob, the European Union has allowed the application of carob extract in variety of foods and beverages, which is likely to increase the demand for carob bars in the European market. In March 2023, the Hain Celestial Group, major F&B manufacturer, announced to grow its range of organic and sustainable carob bars. Another player, Carob House has debuted a new range of carob snacks and beverages for customers looking for nutritional health option.

In the coming years, more varieties of carob bars are expected to mark their way into retail stores, supermarkets, and online platform, which would enhance affordability and accessibility for consumers. This is likely to fuel the growth of the global carob bar market in the coming years.

According to TechSci Research report on “Carob Bars Market- Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity and Forecast 2016-2026 Segmented By Category (Tablets, Countlines, Pouches & Bags, Others), By Distribution Channel (Supermarkets/Hypermarkets, Convenience Stores, Online, Others), and By Region”, the global carob market is expected to grow at a formidable rate during the forecast period. The market growth can be attributed to the rising health consciousness among consumers and growing demand for healthy products.  

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