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What exactly are healthy snacks?
“Healthy snacks” can be understood as a broad and ambiguous term. This term can be pretty unclear since the concept of healthy is subjective. In the healthy snack industry, healthy snacks are often recognized as snacks that are low in sugar, high in protein, no trans fats, and high in fiber. They are made of natural (possibly organic) ingredients grown without pesticides or antibiotics, with no added artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. And all of these features are often labeled as one of the followings – whole grain, fiber-rich, high protein, no fats, gluten-free, organic, no added sugar, natural or no preservatives, probiotics, antioxidant-rich, or immunity-boosting.
The physical format of healthy snacks can be divided into three big categories – bars, chips, and mixed nuts. Bars are considered the most convenient form of healthy snacks as they are easy to take on the go. They are often made of whole grains, ancient grains, cereals, seeds, and nuts. Currently, cereal and granola bars and protein bars dominate this segment.
For the second category, there are chips. In the healthy snacks industry, chip manufacturers often attempt to produce a healthier version of conventional potato chips by replacing potatoes with multigrain, rice, corn, wheat, fruits, and vegetables. They focus on achieving low-fat, low sodium, and high nutrients in their products. The producers, hence, often use the baking method instead of frying or using all-natural non-GMO ingredients.
Lastly, there are nuts and seed mixes. They are beloved due to their portability, convenience, and variety in flavors; also, the natural attribute of being gluten-free and rich in omega contributes to their popularity. Ingredients like cashew, peanut, almonds, hazelnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are popular in nut and seed mix products.
New healthy snack production technologies – preserve the nutritional quality and taste of your ingredients!
Ultrasound and microwave-assisted vacuum frying technology is a new way of frying technology that can not only enhance the look of fried foods but also enhances the quality of food as it maintains the heat-sensitive and oxidation-sensitive nutrients. Also, since this technology is operated at a lower temperature than regular fryer machines, the producer utilizing this new vacuum frying technology can save more energy and earn higher yields.
Another new technology is pulsed electric field (PEF) pre-processing treatments. PEF uses pulses of electricity and pierces the cell membranes to emit further fluid out of fruits or vegetables. This non-thermal technology can maintain the nutrients of raw ingredients, and it helps the end product to contain a lower amount of sugar and acrylamide. Additionally, it saves water and energy consumption for operation by 90%.
Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) is a technology used to preserve raw ingredients by freezing them individually. Here, the freezing process takes only a few minutes, and the food ingredients are frozen separately. This freezing technology is famous for its ability to preserve the sensory and physio-chemical traits of raw ingredients. Often raw ingredients consisting of multiple small pieces such as berries, peas, and corn are treated with this technology.
What is trending in healthy snacks? – personalize your snacks for different demographics and pay attention to the environmental impact!
If you are a producer of healthy snacks, it is crucial to be aware of the new trends in the healthy snacks industry. Plant-based snack is a hot topic as there is a rise in vegetarian and vegan populations, specifically in the younger generation. Plant-based snacks incorporate ingredients like turmeric, ashwagandha, folic acid, and green tea, which can increase the product’s health value by providing additional vitamins and minerals.
Another topic is personalized snacks. Like the vegetarian or vegan trend, consumers nowadays seek snacks that can accommodate their lifestyle and dietary or health requirements. Consequently, customized nutrition became popular. Customers are less concerned about the sugar, fat, or protein content but more about how these snacks can meet the ideal lifestyle they aim to achieve. Mood-boosting, gut-friendly, and sleep-better snacks are examples of this topic.
Finally, there is a trend concerning the environment. When purchasing healthy snacks, customers would like to know if the product is trustworthy and sustainable. Hence, displaying a clear and honest explanation of the source of ingredients, manufacturing and packaging details (if they are recyclable or biodegradable), and farming and collection routes (concerning carbon footprint) became important factors for consumers. Naturally, upcycled snacks have been spotlighted as an environmentally friendly alternative that reduces waste generation.