More than 4.5 billion dollars. That's the size of the protein bar market in 2022. And according to forecasts, by the end of the decade, it will likely top 7 billion. In Bulgaria, the sector is also on the rise, as can be seen from the turnover of the biggest manufacturers. The size of the local market amounts to BGN 50-60 million, and it is expected to double in coming years, according to local manufacturers.
Local players can be roughly divided into two main types: companies that have their own brand but rely on foreign production, and those that have their own brand and their own production, where they work under private labels for external customers. We've selected seven companies of varying sizes, both large and more boutique. Here's an overview of the market.
Smart OrganicThe largest distributor and producer of organic foods in the country. The company is known for several brands, including Roobar, Kookie Cat, Dragon Superfoods and others. In 2021, Smart Organic raised BGN 5.8 million in its stock market debut, entering the top 20 companies by capitalization of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange with a market valuation of BGN 195 million.
It has nine subsidiaries, including in Germany, the Netherlands, the USA and Romania. The company also owns the organic store chain Zelen. Production is carried out entirely in Bulgaria. The brand offers chocolate, protein and fruit bars. The company also produces Lidl's private label raw bars, Alesto Kraft Protz, which are available over the counter in all of Lidl's more than 3,220 stores in Germany.
The Plovdiv company, founded in 2013, offers protein bars without added sugar with 33% protein content, candies, protein blends and oat flapjack bars without gluten and sugar. Up until November 2021, the FitSpo brand imported from factories abroad, but has since started its own production in the country.
To date, all of the brand's products are produced in two bases in Plovdiv and Yambol, which required an investment of BGN 34 million and the expansion of the team by 72 people. In 2022, sales with the FitSpo brand exceeded BGN 18 million, an increase of more than BGN 7 million compared to the previous year 2021, the company reports. The main market of the brand is Bulgaria, where it sells on its website, in supermarkets, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. It exports to most countries in the EU, and since 2023 has focused on sales in the Middle East and North Africa.
The company was founded in 2015. It operates via several brands: Leya Foods, Candy Town, The BarBarian, Mama's raw bar and Rawndy, with the commonality between the products being that they are all shaped like bars.
Specific to the company are raw bars with filling, which according to one of the founders of the business, Iva Palma, are the first of their kind in the world. The price varies between BGN 1.95 for a raw biscuit with filling and BGN 3.45 for an oatmeal bar with filling. The production base is located in Sofia.
95% of the company's sales are abroad, where it markets its own brands and manufactures under private labels for external customers. It exports to more than 20 countries, and sells in German chain DM, Alnatura, Spar, and more.
Founded in 2015 by Konstantin Dragov, brother of the owner of Smart Organic Yani Dragov. It offers raw and protein bars, biscuits and seed crisps, which are produced in its factory based in Sofia. The average price of a product is about BGN 2, with inflation increasing prices by about 15% in the past 12 months. They are sold in more than 15 countries. The company also produces raw bars under private labels for external customers.
Appeared on the market in 2022 with an aggressive campaign in local stores and gas stations. Specializes in the sale of protein and energy bars, energy biscuits and protein powder. The products are manufactured by contractor factories in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain and Denmark.
50% of the company's turnover is due to exports to 13 countries, and by the end of 2023, the percentage is expected to rise to 75. Recently, the company opened an office in Bahrain, where it plans to expand. Expectations are that it will reach sales topping BGN 20 million this year, managers report.
Founded in 2020 by Plamen Medarov, who was previously involved in the production of Go4Raw raw energy bars and crackers, which he subsequently sold. Sells waffles, flapjacks and oat bites with fillings without added sugars, produced by local factory contractors.
The price of the product varies between BGN 2.50 and BGN 3. It exports 90% of its goods abroad, with the largest markets being Malta, Germany and Italy.
Offers protein candies and chocolates with no added sugar. Founded in November 2020 by Jasmina Gevezieva. Attracted an external investment from the Bulgarian equity fund Innovation Capital in the amount of BGN 100,000 in late 2022. Products are manufactured in Bulgaria by a contractor factory, and the raw materials are purchased from Bulgarian suppliers and importers.
Sold in 200 commercial outlets in Bulgaria, and mainly exported to Germany, Spain, Greece and Great Britain. Protein candies have a fixed price of BGN 3.99, and chocolates cost BGN 10.99.
Founded in 2014 by Krasen Kyurkchiev, owner and manager of one of the largest Bulgarian FMCG companies - "Fikosota". Specializes in the production of three types of bars - protein, with superfoods and fruit, based on only 2 ingredients - cashews and dates. Expected to undergo massive changes in late 2023 due to low performance.