KIND is launching KIND Minis, a small version of the company's classic bars. The almost bite-sized bars pack 100-calories (or less), and are effectively half-sized versions of the original product.
The new product is an entry into the market for low-calorie, on-the-go snacks. Where many existing 100-calorie packs focus on portion size alone, KIND targets the market for single-serving snacks that also prioritize “nutrition credentials.”
The mini bars come in several flavors –– all of which include either dark chocolate or caramel sea salt. Each flavor includes a nut as its first ingredient — almonds, peanuts or cashews — and contains between three and six grams of sugar.
The new KIND mini bars deliver the familiar flavors of the nut-based bar in a low-calorie, snackable format. This deeper foray into the on-the-go category comes at a time when many Americans want more snacks. According to Mintel, 94% of Americans snack at least once a day — and half snack two to three times daily. Thanks in part to millennial-driven market shifts, the demand for healthier choices is higher than ever.
While many existing single-serving snack foods might deliver friendly calorie counts, they tend to rely on processed ingredients like enriched flour and refined sugar. Beyond the 100-calorie packs from legacy brands like Oreos and Ritz crackers, few options exist. Through offering its bars in smaller sizes, KIND is reaching out the consumer who wants both.
“Many leading miniature snacks are just smaller versions of their nutrient-deficient full-size counterparts,” Stephanie Perruzza, KIND registered dietitian and health and wellness expert, said in the product announcement. “People are increasingly seeking options that are nutritious and delicious.”
Since it launched in 2004, KIND has sought to define healthy snacks. The company has focused not just on portion size or calorie count, but the ingredients themselves.
Nevertheless, just how healthy KIND bars are has been the subject of debate. The company has been criticized for labeling the bars, which are high in natural fat and sugar, as “healthy.” The Food and Drug Administration cracked down on KIND a few years ago. According to the guidelines that existed then, the bars contained too much fat to bear the "healthy" label — because nuts, which are naturally high in fat, are a main ingredient. KIND pushed back with a citizen petition, claiming the FDA based its claims on an outdated nutritional understanding that treated all types of fat as uniformly bad.
Ultimately, the FDA revised its guidelines to differentiate between forms of fat, and KIND reconfigured its labeling to include added sugars. The federal government started a public process in 2016 to consider modernizing the definition of "healthy." Official change has not come yet, though FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said this is a priority.
The mini bars don’t change anything in the process, but they do bring a new option to grocery store shelves in a moment when consumers are filling up on portable, easy-to-eat foods. Studies show that while a third of customers want low-calorie counts and minimal sugar in their snack foods, another third prioritizes whole grains, fiber and protein.
The KIND mini bars fall somewhere in between: small enough for a snack with an eye toward nutritional profile. And thanks to their smaller size, they contain less fat and sugar, which may appeal to the health-conscious consumer. If customers react well to the mini bars, more companies may begin to explore miniature versions of larger bars.