Protein-fortified snack innovation bulks up as consumers crave functional pastries, donuts and chips
07 Jun 2022 --- Accentuated appetites for foods fortified with functional benefits is growing the commercial potential for protein-boosted snacks into new product segments – such as health-haloed pastries, donuts and chips. These findings are evidenced in new market analysis published by ingredient supplier Glanbia Nutritionals.
According to Glanbia, 46% of consumers believe protein bars count as a healthy snack, while 16% of consumers are now using protein-fortified snacks – such as protein bars, powders, cereals and pancakes – once a week.
Branching out of the traditional protein format
Glanbia’s research – which polled 3,000 people across Germany, France, Sweden and Italy – reveals that across Europe, consumers are cutting down on “less healthy” snacks, such as soft drinks, candy, chocolate and chips, and leaning toward nourishing snacks, like protein bars.
An important consideration for protein bar consumers is the product being filling (deemed essential for 33% of consumers). Furthermore, low/no sugar as well as “good source of vitamins and minerals” claims are particularly attractive among bar consumers.
“Increasingly consumers are looking for protein-fortified products which are seen as a benchmark for health, with Ready-To-Drink (RTD) protein shakes and bars currently leading the way, most likely thanks to the easy-to-use formats of both products and the fact that they can be consumed on the go,” explains Sonja Matthews, senior manager of strategic insights EMEA & ASPAC at Glanbia Nutritionals.
Noting “this is just the beginning” for industry’s diversification of protein formats, she highlights: “We are seeing new products hitting the shelves from protein cookies to protein-fortified chocolate bars, showcasing that if a product is innovative and exciting, tastes great and has the health benefits consumers are looking for, it can really cut through the competition.”
European protein bar users are showing an interest in protein cookies (50%), brownies (47%) and protein chips (34%).
Baked goods such as protein-fortified pastries and donuts (30%) are also rated highly, as well as small, bite-sized formats like protein bites (30%) and balls (24%), while protein spreads are another opportunity, with 34% expressing an interest in this type of product.
Taste remains a “non-negotiable” aspect, Glanbia stresses – with this benchmark remaining the number one requirement for protein products, followed by it being high in protein and low/no sugar across both RTD protein shakes and bars.
Multifunctional snack and bar solutions
Glanbia Nutritionals offers snack and bar solutions for the European market, which aid the creation of soft indulgent protein bars, savory extruded protein snacks and creamy protein beverages.
The supplier has a range of dairy and plant proteins in its BarPro, BarFlex and BarHarvest range. These functional protein solutions are designed to help create protein bars and snacks with the specific texture and flavor requirements desired by the on-the-go health-conscious consumer.
The solutions also extend the shelf life of nutrition bars while minimizing bar hardening. “They provide an excellent source of high-quality protein that improves bar texture and supplies a clean flavor profile,” the company details.
Glanbia’s snack product innovation, Crunchie Milk Protein Crisps, are ideal for bar and snack inclusion, delivering texture and crunch to a product. With consistent shape, size and a light color appearance, this ingredient contains greater than 74% high-quality milk protein, for an extra protein boost.
The company also offers custom premix solutions that are also available to create a unique blend of vitamins, minerals and bioactive ingredients.
Novel protein-packed hero ingredients
Innova Market Insights highlights that savory snacks are still somewhat more likely to feature boosted nutrient claims than sweet snacks (6% versus 4% of total snacks launched globally in 2021) and are also growing faster at a CAGR of 8% from 2017 to 2021 versus 4% for sweet boosted nutrition claim snacks.
The market researcher highlights that boosted nutrition snacks may only cite generic “source of” claims, or note the specific fiber and protein content, while others feature specific hero ingredients or make explicit links between fiber or protein and health benefits.
One example of a protein-rich novel hero ingredient is milk thistle, found in Danone’s Deliciest Rahka Maisku Valkosuklaavadelma (White Chocolate Maisku Bar) in Finland. This decadent treat combines a thin white chocolate icing on top, a fair dose of soft fresh milk curd and a raspberry heart inside into a “convenient casserole-like snack” for both children and adults.
Meanwhile, conventional protein powder is seeing a clean label makeover. “Good For You – Better For The Planet” is how Green Protein promotes its Green Protein Sport Pea Protein Powder in India. Pea protein production, the company states, is “highly cost effective and sustainable, requiring less water and land, compared to meat and whey”.
Traditional protein shakes are also increasingly targeting mainstream consumers outside of the bodybuilding category. Last April, nutritional shake brand Boost partnered with Cinnabon to introduce the Boost High Protein Cinnabon Bakery Inspired Flavored Nutritional Drink. The functional RTD beverage is packed with the same protein, vitamins and minerals as Boost High Protein Nutritional Drink and inspired by the flavor of the classic Cinnabon cinnamon roll.
In other moves, precision fermentation technology is changing the cruelty free protein scene forever, highlights Innova. US-based ArboryPharm Foods – which has just launched “No Cow - All Science” Natreve Mooless Animal Free Whey Protein – describes the production process as follows: “Microflora are given an exact copy of DNA corresponding to cow’s milk protein.”
“In fermentation tanks, the flora grazes on flora food and converts it into animal free milk protein. Finally, the flora is filtered out, leaving pure, animal free whey protein that is identical to the protein found in cow’s milk.”
By Benjamin Ferrer
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