The ingredient is both Kosher and Halal, and comes from a non-genetically modified source. "Life'sDHA is accepted by the FDA for use in infant formulas and is the only DHA currently used in U.S. infant formulas," continues France-Kelly. She claims Life'sDHA will not change the taste of your product, "but it certainly will enhance its appeal."
Yogurt, a natural source of calcium and probiotic bacteria, has made a successful transition from ethnic specialty to popular health and fitness snack. Stonyfield Farm (www.stonyfield.com), Londonderry, N.H., for 24 years has been producing all natural and organic yogurts, smoothies, cultured soy, frozen yogurt, ice cream and milk, and claims to be the nation's first dairy processor to pay farmers not to treat cows with the synthetic bovine growth hormone rBST.
While the dairy industry has been promoting "three a day," Stonyfield Farm upped the calcium in its yogurt so it only takes "2-a-Day" to get the bone-health nutrient.
Despite the dairy industry's long-running "three-a-day" marketing program, Stonyfield's new 2-a-Day yogurt is enhanced in calcium. "Just two of these yogurts meet your daily calcium needs to help maintain and build strong bones," says Gary Hirshberg, president/CEO. "We've even added Vitamin D [20 percent of the recommended DV], which helps your body better absorb the calcium," plus inulin, a natural source of fiber and a prebiotic that feeds friendly gut bacteria and also tends to slow the absorption of sugar.
Stonyfield Farm's latest entry is an organic energy drink called Shift, a combination of protein, vitamins, acai and ginseng, but free of caffeine or guarana, which are in most energy drinks. "As the father of three teenagers and as a soccer coach, I know energy drinks promise a lot, but only give you a temporary, artificial energy spike followed by a quick low," continues Hirshberg. "For teens and young adults who want to maintain a healthy and sustainable energy level, Shift is the organic alternative."
Stonyfield also produces Brown Cow yogurt, known for its layer of natural cream on top. Brown Cow recently became the first yogurt to include whole grains as part of a new low fat variety that includes fruit, sunflower and flaxseed.
Ever since red wine became known as a natural source of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant, dark red and blue fruits have been popping up all over the healthy snack market. "Acai has gotten a lot of media attention because it's rich in antioxidants, but it's much more than that," says Jeremy Black, global brand manager at Sambazon (www.sambazon.com), San Clemente, Calif., which claims to have brought the acai berry to U.S. attention in 2000. "Acai is truly 'whole food' nutrition -- it delivers healthy omega fats, fiber and protein, which is why it's considered on of the most powerful superfoods on the planet.
Sambazon has a plethora of products, the fortunes of which are linked to that of the acai berry. In addition to being a rich source of antioxidants, acai also delivers omega fats, fiber and protein.
"Studies have shown how the French and Mediterranean diets, rich in red wine and olive oil, help maintain heart, body, brain and skin. Organic Acai combines 30 times the antioxidants of red wine plus an essential fatty acid profile similar to olive oil. It's a potent combination you want to put in your diet every day," Black adds.
Sugary soft drinks are joined at the hip to empty-calorie snacks. In fact, according to the USDA, Americans consume about 36 gal. of sweetened soft drinks per person per year. If you include diet soft drinks, the average American dives headlong into a 55-gal. drum of soft drinks per year, a feat which displaces more nutritious beverages.
Inspired by great-tasting European sodas, the people at Izze Beverage Co. (www.izze.com), Boulder, Colo., created a natural carbonated beverage from fruit juices. "Today Izze is available in eight distinctive flavors and sold in grocery stores, coffee shops, schools, delis and restaurants across the U.S., Canada and numerous international markets," says spokesperson Meg Heitlinger.
The effort to oust soft drinks from schools is leaving a space for healthy choices that appeal to kids. "Because it is a healthier alternative and because kids like the flavors, Izze is in schools across the country, and schools continue to be a growing part of our business," says Heitlinger.
Healthy snacks are no fad; they are the future. That future is not just in eating healthy food that's tasty, but also in feeling good about making healthy choices, and what that says about the consumer.
"The market for healthier snack items is growing exponentially," says Graham Keen, vice president of corporate marketing for Archer Daniels Midland Co. (www.admworld.com), Decatur, Ill. "The global snack food market, valued at $66 billion in 2004, is projected to reach sales of more than $91 billion by 2010, according to research from Euromonitor International," says Keen.
So no longer fear using the word "snack" to describe your food product. If research confirms that your product and your target demographic are comfortable with the term, use it freely. But back it up by taking out unfavorable ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners and saturated and trans fats, and point out the addition of healthy ones -- while carefully staying within the bounds of FDA-recognized health claims.