By Kate Schlientz, IntoxiKate.com
With cultural shifts almost eliminating family food rituals and the traditional sit down meal, consumers’ view on snacking—understanding it is essential to daily nutrition—has increased demand for healthier snacks.
According to new research by global market research company Euromonitor International, ‘free-from’ and organic products drove food and beverage value sales last year, with consumers focused on items offering health benefits. Case in point: Pepperidge Farm recently updated their Cheddar Goldfish recipe, including a non-GMO organic wheat. Bolthouse Farms created a new line of certified organic dressings, using yogurt and avocado as cream bases for a healthier alternative to top organic salads.
The farm-to-table movement led to a range of changes in the restaurant world, but has also led to increased transparency in product lines. Quinn Popcorn, for example, included a QR code on the packaging, allowing consumers to learn more about the farm where the popcorn was grown.
A number of established brands have focused on producing better-for-you snacks, slapping on non-GMO, USDA organic, and even gluten-free labels on packaging. But when it comes to innovation and flavor, companies are turning to craft, culinary trends to produce a variety of snacking products.
While chefs are sourcing alternative proteins like alligator and even cricket, mainstream product lines are investing in the premise plants can be a great source of protein. BRAMI introduced their Snacking Lupini Beans in sea salt, garlic and herb, chili lime, and hot pepper varieties. The lupini beans, which they liken to Mediterranean edamame, are rich in protein and fiber, but low in calories, offering a healthy snacking solution. Go Raw, on the other hand, packs protein power in the form of sprouted watermelon seeds with a touch of Celtic sea salt. The organic seeds are also a source of powerful nutrients like magnesium and zinc. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bites, another newbie to the snack scene created from hemp hearts, offer 10 grams of protein per serving. The plant-based protein craze has also extended to the supplement category. Cytosport launched a new line of vegan, plant-based shakes, protein powders, and protein bars. The Evolve line is made with non-GMO pea protein.
In 2016, the vegetable returned with a vengeance, and one cruciferous vegetable in particular is getting a lot of attention—cauliflower. While cauliflower rice, General Tso’s caulifower, and cauliflower tacos have made their way from culinary kitchens to Pinterest boards, companies are using it as a gluten-free alternative in pizza crusts (Cali’flour Foods, LLC) and sandwich thins (Outer Aisle Gourmet). Green Giant also released a new line of “veggie swap-ins,” including cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower, and vegetable tots.
Chefs across the globe experiment with seaweed in the kitchen—poaching, seasoning, and more—and flavored seaweed snacks have been a popular product on store shelves for quite some time. But brands are looking far beyond Nori to including other marine greens such as wakame, spirulina, kelp, and algae oil. These plants from the sea are a great source of calcium, potassium, and iodine; boost the immune system; and are low in calories. The specialists at Seamore, known for their seaweed pasta, launched a vegan bacon made of organic, unprocessed seaweed. The seaweed bacon can be used in a variety of ways to add both flavor and texture to dishes, adding a smoky, salty taste.
MILLING GOES MAINSTREAM
As the farm-to-table movement continues and the relationship between farmers and chefs grows, new movements are quickly arising. One of those movements—milling—quickly made it from restaurant kitchens onto pantry shelves. Diners were curious about the ‘new’ ancient grains on the plate and wanted these refined grain products for snacking on the go. Late July Snacks gave the tortilla chip a serious upgrade with their new Cantina Dippers, using either organic whole ground blue corn or white corn (depending on the variety), and shaped for optimum dipping.
Consumers find grains like teff, millet, and quinoa leading the ingredient lists on the back of packaging. Bonus? These grains can be paired with a variety of both sweet and savory flavors. Purely Elizabeth Chocolate Sea Salt Probiotic Granola packs a mouthful of ingredients almost as long as the name. The granola includes protein and superfoods, with puffed amaranth, quinoa flakes, and millet flakes. Lundberg Family Farms Organic Thin Stackers adds thin rice cakes in varieties like 5-grain rice, brown rice, and red rice and quinoa to their robust lineup of flavored rice chips (think flavors like smoky maple, Sriracha, and sesame seaweed).
Stay tuned to in-sight for more articles from Kate Schlientz of IntoxiKate.com!