MAY 19, 2021

How you can add healthy snacks to your sortiment

Trends in society have a direct impact on industrial companies, which have to continuously adapt their processes and products to the ever-changing needs of consumers. In addition to short-lived developments, there are also those that stay, such as the health trend. It is difficult to call the focus on physical and mental health a trend; after all, our well-being has always been important to us, but in the food industry in particular, it cannot be overlooked that the desire for a conscious diet has grown strongly in recent years, and healthy as well as sustainable foods are coming to the fore.

The health trend also has a strong impact on snacks, as consumers are aware that even the small snacks between meals have an impact on their health. In addition, the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner with the family is increasingly giving way to small snacks spread throughout the day. This is because society no longer adapts its daily schedule to meals, but vice versa. People who go to work don't always have time for an extended lunch and then resort to snacks. However, these are then no longer simply supposed to be delicious, but also healthy, because they replace one or more main meals.

A large proportion of consumers regard as healthy, above all, those products that consist of natural and therefore easily understood ingredients that they can trust, without chemical additives. This development poses a challenge to companies and food manufacturers, because in order to make their products healthier, important ingredients such as artificial flavor enhancers have to be replaced. It is important to note that natural and healthy products will not sell if they do not taste good. In addition, many consumers value vegan and gluten-free snacks.

We've spent the last few weeks looking at how fruits and vegetables are processed, and in this article we take a look at how the healthy raw materials can be used to make healthy and attractive snacks that meet consumer needs.

Healthy snacks

The need for snacks that are not only delicious but also healthy is not entirely new. For example, smoothies made from pureed fruits and vegetables have been on supermarket shelves for a long time, because with the exception of the seeds, they consist of whole fruits, and in some cases even the skins, and therefore contain many valuable ingredients. Nutrient-rich smoothies can also be offered out of season of the healthy raw materials, for example, by using freeze-dried fruits and vegetables that are available year-round.

In our article on the freeze-drying process last week, we mentioned that fruits and vegetables treated with this process can also be used in cereals, bars and chocolate. Even though these products are not made entirely from fruit, mueslis with freeze-dried fruit, for example, can stand out from the competition because manufacturers can advertise that the ingredients are natural and nutrient-rich, containing more vitamins and fiber than fruit dried by other processes. In addition, the fruits have the same intense colors as the freshly harvested fruit, which makes them visually attractive without the need to include colorants in the ingredients list, whether artificial or natural.

Freeze-dried fruit/vegetables can also be processed into powders, pastes or purees and in this form can also be used as an ingredient for chocolate and bars. Here, coarsely ground products are no less attractive than fine ones, because recognizable pieces of fruit convince consumers of the naturalness of the powders and purees. The powder can also be sold individually and sprinkled by the consumer over yogurt, for example.

In the form of pastes or purees, the freeze-dried fruits can also be used as a creamy filling for pastries and muffins and cookies. They are also suitable for baking whole, as their residual moisture is very low at 1 - 4% and they therefore have little effect on the dough. The preserved fruits can therefore simply be stirred into the dough, either whole or chopped into small pieces, and thus likewise refine cakes, muffins and cookies.

Another advantage of fresh or freeze-dried fruits and vegetables is that they have a lower fructose content than raw ingredients that have been dried using conventional methods, as they still contain fiber and vitamins. When raw materials are dried by high temperatures, heat-sensitive vitamins and fiber are lost, resulting in higher concentrations of fructose in the final products.

Inspiration from abroad

In order to meet the needs of consumers, it is time to expand the range of snacks available at German retailers. A development can already be observed there, because while apple chips used to be the innovative alternative to potato chips, today there are also beet and zucchini chips and many other dried vegetables to nibble on. A foreign startup is now offering pickled vegetables, previously more for home use and usually sold in jars, in small portions for people on the go. Packaged in bags, without brine, the liquid solution in which the vegetables are pickled.

Already established products are being optimized to adapt to the trend and remain competitive. In addition, companies could draw inspiration from abroad, because almost no one in Germany is familiar with the healthy fruit snacks that are common there.

Fruit leather

Fruit leather consists of pureed, cooked and dried fruits and probably originated in the Middle East, in Syria and the surrounding area. There it is called "Amardeen" and refers mainly to fruit leather made from apricots. It was introduced as a snack for children as early as the 90's in America, where it still enjoys great popularity.

Fruit leather can be made from any fruit or a mixture of different varieties. The fruit is pureed with or without the peel and cooked. The resulting mass is then spread on a flat surface and dried in this way. Its name is given to fruit leather, which is cut or rolled into strips or shapes, depending on the manufacturer, because the dry mass is firm and shiny like leather. The finished product usually has a long shelf life even when unrefrigerated.

In America, fruit leather is sold mainly rolled, in funny shapes and with bright colors as a healthy snack for children, but unfortunately it often contains mainly sugar and only a small amount of fruit puree. And this despite the fact that the original variant consists of 100% fruit.

Churchkhela

Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian snack made of nuts and grape must, served as a dessert or between meals. It is usually made in autumn when the grapes and nuts are harvested.

First, the nuts are shelled and soaked in water, then strung on two to three meter long threads. Walnuts are often used, but in western Georgia hazelnuts or almonds are also used, and sometimes raisins are added. The threads are then dipped into grape must, a juice made from grapes that is very rich in minerals. Its usually obtained by crushing the pulp, seeds and skins together in a winepress that gently squeezes out the juice. The must is thickened with flour and the threaded nuts are completely dipped several times, usually three times, so that the churchkhelas have the right thickness. They look like candles and are sun-dried for five to six days before being consumed or stored, although some like to eat them fresh. Traditional churchkhelas contain no sugar and used to be given by Georgian warriors because they have a long shelf life as well as being filling and high in calories.

Outside Georgia, they are popular in many other countries, including Iran, Armenia, Greece, Russia, Pakistan and Turkey. There they are known, for example, as "sujuk" (sausage) or "cevizli sucuk" (walnut sausage). Both Fruit leather and Churchkhelas are an example that the possibilities for expanding the product range with new and healthy snacks are far from exhausted.

The health trend is not new, but it is gaining momentum, which is why startups are focusing on healthy and natural ingredients as well as sustainable and biodegradable packaging for their products. Companies can benefit in the future if they optimize their products now and expand their range.

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