The word “Snack” is understood differently by different people. Often described as quick light meals, or as foods consumed in-between regular meals, or simple, small, pocket-energy providers that keeps one going from one meal to the other. However, in common understanding snacks tend to be idle munching options that rarely do good... a belief that most brand custodians try to break through product value addition/ modifications, packaging break-through, or by strengthening product claims.
Nevertheless, one cannot shy away from the reality that snacks form an integral part of food intake and in few cases, these are the only foods consumed on some occasions. Therefore this segment is globally growing and evolving at a rapid pace. Worldwide, the typical snacks universe consists of huge product format ranges like potato crisps, expanded snacks, nuts, chocolate based (filled, enrobed, standalone, wafers, baked matrix), tortilla chips, raw/baked/fried cut vegetable and fruits, formed dough products made out of potato, corn, other cereals and pulses, pellets, direct expanded extruded, pop corn and puffed cereals and pulses, cookies, cracker, cakes, muffins, pastries, bread amd other baked goods, cereal flakes, fruit pieces, fruit filled and enrobed, milk- and yogurt-based snacks. While this could be the classification based on product formats, an alternate way of classification could be based on the type and class of ingredient used, the packaging format used, and consumption occasion etc to further breakdown categories of snacks. Healthy Snacking
Today’s consumer is exposed to a never ending stream of information on healthy lifestyle and eating. In addition to that, Govt bodies, NGOs, health professionals,special interest groups public surveys, reports and studies revealing the benefits and risks of consuming a class of food products and ingredients and leading lifestyles is readily available. Therefore, it is no longer a surprise that the single biggest trend worldwide in the snacks department is orientation towards health. Snacks manufacturers worldwide are looking at every opportunity to improve the nutrition profile while retaining the taste and texture of their products. Equally significant efforts are also being taken to reduce the negative impact some snacks inherit either due to their ingredients or processing. The biggest challenge in the snack food sector is to retain/ enhance the sensory delight while delivering superior health attributes. Clubbed with the improvement in formulation, the innovations in packaging and voluntary/mandatory pack declarations are helping consumers in making ‘healthier’ choices.
In the world of processed snacks, a gradual yet substantial change can be observed in the movement towards health orientation. Processors have moved from producing foods catering to basic sensory of consumers, to built-in natural goodness of healthy ingredients such as multigrains, whole grains, oats, olive oil, berries, different types of natural ingredients which are either a rich or good source of specific macro or micro nutrients. This has been further followed by reducing or eliminating commonly understood food negatives like saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, sugar, salt and calories from the snacks. With the better understanding of functionality of specific ingredients or a set of ingredients based on scientific research or clinical evidence, a new category of “functional food” is currently emerging. Of course there already existed a category of Medical Foods, which provides a solution for special food needs in certain health conditions. With the advent of speciality ingredients, the boundary between functional food and medical foods is thinning every day.
Here is a closer look at the enumerating trend of incorporating healthy ingredients while reducing negative ingredients in snack foods, with a special emphasis on baked goods, and the relevance to Indian context and Indian baked good offerings in each case.For complete story grab a copy of this months Progressive Grocer-India.