Formulating Sweet and Savory Healthy Snacks

Sweet and savory snacks are forecast for constant growth and food processors are taking note. Read on to find out how one ingredient formulator in particular can help with your future healthy snacking options.

By Jill Russell, managing editor, digital media

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According to market research firm Euromonitor, the global sweet and savory snacks sector is forecast to total almost $83 billion by 2010. Already ahead of the trend, Archer Daniels Midland Co. (www.admworld.com) offers customers ingredients and expertise to help them meet consumer demand for smarter snacks.

Shannon Gilbert of ADM's Specialty Food Ingredients division answered our questions on the future of healthy snacking and what ADM may do for your future snack offering.

Q: What are the current trends for healthy snacking?

A: Due to a rise in obesity, there is a higher demand for healthy snacks. Where snacking in the past has been in-between meals, consumers are now making healthier decisions that are better for them throughout the day. Convenience is crucial. Brand owners are focusing on making snacks better for you, incorporating vegetable servings, providing less fat and less sugar, controlling portion and serving size, and utilizing less processed ingredients in the finished snack. Consumers are demanding snacks that taste good but are satiating and healthy.

Q: How does the company help meet these trends?

A: We conduct a needs assessment with customers who want to market healthier snacks.  We work directly with brand owners and co-packers to develop custom solutions and innovation-driven formulations. We discuss their needs and identify collaboration activities. We are involved in a detailed manner. We organize ideation sessions to develop ideas and identify what nutritional targets they want, what kind of taste they're looking for, the convenience of the product and what form the finished product should be.  We work with them along the way, testing scale-up and product development. Because of our involvement in the infancy of the product, the sales cycle for the brand owner is much longer.

Q. What does your company offer customers looking to create healthier snack options?

A. ADM can provide customers market-ready snack foods, bars and beverages with improved nutrition. We'll design, develop and arrange products to meet the needs of the brand owners and customers. We provide simple solutions from the very beginning of a project all the way to producing the final product. Benefits to the brand owner and ultimately the consumer are improved speed to market, expansion of their pool of innovative ideas, better management of short product lifestyles and the ability to look at their products through the eyes of their consumers.

Q. What motivated the company to work with customers this way?

A. This process evolved from the demand of brand owners and consumers. Over the past three to five years, we have seen our customers facing deadlines with shorter development cycles and fewer staff. We believe we can respond to these customers' needs quickly and accurately.

Q. What makes the company stand out from other formulators?

A. Many food formulators have less time to develop products and rely on support from ADM. Through a detailed needs assessment we can provide custom solutions. We have always provided ingredient expertise and formulation assistance, but collaboration is now a key focus. Our customers are looking for new products and differentiation in the market. Through collaboration and strategic partnerships, ADM can provide them with expertise and innovation.

Q: What would you say is in the future for snacking?

A: The healthy snack market will continue to grow. Consumers have become more aware of the link between obesity and unhealthy snacking. With new U.S. Dietary Guidelines, consumers will continue to demand healthier snacks. Brand owners will continue to incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fibers, proteins, healthy oils and nuts into their products to meet these demands.

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