Whether it’s a protein, breakfast, or granola bar, more than ever are bars serving as snacks or even convenient meal replacements as the on the go lifestyle continues to take hold. Almost 40 percent of the millennials surveyed by Mintel for its 2015 report said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it. From this example, it can be seen that millennials want grab-and-go meal options to match their fast-paced lifestyles.

From a business standpoint, the bar category has some of the highest prices per unit in retail stores, opening up larger profit possibilities.

granola bar binding syrup formulations

Our Gum Gurus® often field questions about using stabilizers and thickening systems to make an ideal nutritional, granola, or cereal bar. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about bar formulations:

What gum should I use for a binding syrup?

In product development, one main goal for a snack or meal bar is to keep all of the ingredients bound together. In many bars a general binder is needed, while in granola bars specifically, the film forming ability of a binding system is the key to cohesiveness and stability through processing and transit. For most granola bars, we recommend our Add-Here® line, a proprietary line of hydrocolloids that replaces the texture and binding qualities needed in bars, but with significantly less sugar in addition to other functional benefits. TIC Pretested® Gum Arabic FT is also suitable for creating binding syrups.

How should I incorporate the gums into my product?

Because sugar can compete with the gums for water in the mixing tank, it’s often helpful to disperse the gum in the tank and allow it to hydrate before adding sugar.

After the mixture is heated to boiling, while still hot, the binding syrup should be mixed into the dry ingredients and the bars should be allowed to cool in their desired shapes. Most of our hydrocolloid systems will work well in both chewy and crunchy granola bars. The major difference between the two is that crunchy bars will be put through a baking step, as opposed to chewy bars that must instead go through a drying step.

I am formulating a reduced sugar granola bar. What textural properties are important, and what binding options do I have?

Replacing sweetness can be accomplished with high-intensity sweeteners like aspartame or stevia but what is not easy to replace is the texture, stability, gloss, stickiness, and film forming attributes sugar provides and that are necessary to form and hold separate ingredients together. Dissolved sugar provides these because it can dry into a solid, and these solid properties are what bind the parts of the dry ingredients together.

In reduced sugar bars, TIC Gums’ Texture Terminology attributes that are important to monitor and maintain include, but are not limited to:

  • Awareness of Particulates
  • Fracturability
  • Moisture Absorption
  • Noise
  • Surface Roughness
Texture Attributes of Cereal Bars
Texture Terminology Definitions  Examples
Awareness of Particulates

The amount of particles (grit, grainy, seeds, skins) perceived in the mass

Chocolate truffle center vs chewy granola bar with chocolate chips
Fracturability The force with which the sample ruptures when placing the sample between the molars and biting down at an even rate Corn muffin vs hard boiled (glass) candy
Moisture Absorption Amount of saliva absorbed by sample during chew down perceived as the degree of change in mouth moistness

Shoe string licorice vs pound cake


The loudness of the sample during chewdown

Sliced white bread vs tortilla chips
Surface Roughness

The amount of particles perceived in the surface

Water dessert gel vs thin crisp rye wafer


The following products were developed specifically for reduced sugar systems:

  • Add-Here 3200
  • Pre-Hydrated Gum Arabic FT

Do you have stabilizers that meet the definitions for all-natural, organic, and/or Non-GMO?

Top factors for consumers choosing a bar to buy are often focused on label claims including natural, organic or non-GMO. According to Innova Market Insights, the number of cereal and energy bars launched in the US bearing a clean label claim has dramatically increased in the last 5 years with 50% of those launches now bearing a GMO-free claim. Also notable is the drop in launches bearing a natural claim.

cereal bar launches bearing label claims


In the absence of definitions or standards for some claims, our Gum Gurus can work closely with you to select a gum system that meets your labeling requirements.

  • Add-Here 3200 Non-GMO
  • Add-Here 4300 P: An all-natural* alternative to Add-Here 3200 that does not contain cellulose gum
  • TICorganic® Gum Arabic SF: A certified organic gum acacia that can be used to replace corn syrup as a binder
Gums for Cereal  & Granola Bars
Product Special Features Typical Usage Level
Add-Here 3200

Superior binding syrup strength for crunchy baked granola bars and reduced sugar baked crunchy granola bars. Improves particle binding through its film-forming properties.

5-20% of binding syrup

Gum Arabic FT

Synergistic with polyol syrups to improve binding syrup strength in reduced sugar granola bars. Synergistic with glycerin after heating to form a very good binding syrup.

20-40% of binding syrup
TICorganic® Gum Arabic SF Certified organic replacement for corn syrup as a binder

20-40% of binding syrup

My bars are drying out. What can I do to retain moisture in my bar?

The softness in a chewy granola bar is often a function of the moisture retention properties of the bar; the more moisture that is retained, the softer the bar will be. To aid in moisture retention, we recommend that you blend our dry mixtures into the dry ingredients before mixing into the syrup. 

Selecting gums for your bar formulations

To talk with a Gum Guru about the specific texture and stability needs of your bar formulation, call our technical support hotline +1-800-899-3953 / +1-410-273-7300 or chat live online.

Download bar & binding syrup formulation