Unhealthy and Healthy Foods

Snacks—Balancing Good Taste & Good Nutrition

Brands are challenged with formulating snacks that maximize taste and deliver nutrition by using on-trend ingredients.

Formulating a snack that maximizes taste and delivers nutrition can be harder than it sounds, but given the breadth of ingredient choices available, it’s less of a struggle than it used to be.

Protein is a top ingredient that consumers look for on a snack label. In fact, nearly half of U.S. consumers (45 percent) purchased a high-protein bar in an average month, according to the “2016 Food Formulation and Ingredient Trends” report from Packaged Facts. Choosing the right protein type for a given application is important because some proteins (especially plant-based proteins) face taste challenges and require the use of masking agents, sugars and artificial components that can compromise clean label strategies.

Expanding the application of functional ingredients is also central to striking a balance. Christina Wood, sales and marketing director, OptiBiotix, pointed to the gut microbiota trend as an example. “While the probiotic yogurt market has boomed over the past decade due to its combination of physical benefits and fantastic taste, retailers are harnessing microbiome modulation science to advance beyond the dairy sphere,” she said. “Delivering everything from cereal-based to bakery goods, the field is now more varied than ever and better serving the need for delicious on-the-go nutrition.”

Brands keen on this trend include Little Duck Organics Tiny Yogurts (freeze-dried fruit and yogurt bites for toddlers formulated with superfruits, B vitamins and iron); Vegan Rob’s Probiotic Cauliflower Puffs and Gloria Pro Defensis Drinkable Yogurt, sold in Peru. The products all feature GanedenBC30 probiotics.

Using easy-to-recognize ingredients with established nutritional benefits is another option. “Teams that are committed to bringing good nutrition and good taste innovation start their product foundation with basics found in nature, such as nuts, grains or fruits,” offered Zev Ziegler, head of marketing (health), Lycored. He spotlighted Justin’s Nut Butter as one brand that offers “protein packed” snacks that are “naturally delicious” and a “convenient source of nutrition for active lifestyles.”

Ancient grains such as millet, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth and chia are another type of healthy ingredient making a splash in the snack category. Mark Stavro, senior director of marketing, Bunge North America, said it’s because they’ve become familiar, healthy alternatives to traditionally used grains.

Stacy Dill, marketing director, Kemin Health, also has observed an increased penchant for savory snacks versus traditionally sweet bars and shakes. “Several brands are innovating in this space to provide unique flavor profiles and product formats; for example, Sargento’s Balanced Breaks and Yumami’s Grab-N-Go’s offer two or more snacks in one simple container,” she said.

From formulation and market data to intellectual property (IP) and product trends, INSIDER's On-the-Go Nutrition Digital Magazine is packed with more information on this budding niche. Click the link to read more. 

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