Salt, fat and MSG reformulation comes to the fore in savory snacking, says Intersnack exec
11 Mar 2021 --- During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of snacking “moments” throughout the day has increased as consumers grapple with eating occasions while working and spending more time at home. Taste continues to be a key driver for savory snacks, but today consumers are also looking for less salt, no artificial flavors and more nutritional value from this category.
FoodIngredientsFirst speaks with Jeroen Wiskerke, senior category developer at Intersnack the Netherlands, who sheds light on the reformulation efforts of its brands and the themes dominating the savory landscape.
He also details how the company successfully eliminated all monosodium glutamate (MSG) from its brands.
“The crisps and snacks category is an enjoyment category and has experienced significant growth in recent years in the Netherlands, but also in Europe as a whole,” he details.
“Both retailers and manufacturers are keen to reduce salt and saturated fat levels step by step – in line with the consumers’ changing taste preferences.”
The products need to be as natural as possible, meaning no artificial fragrance, color or flavor enhancers, Wiskerke highlights.
Savory snacks boom
Consumers were always highly interested in savory snacks and this even increased during COVID-19.
For consumers, one of the most crucial factors when deciding on savory snacks is the taste, he asserts.
“Consumer research points to taste being the number one driver,” continues Wiskerke. “Then the nutritional values should be in line with the consumer preference.”
More consumers today are used to less salt, particularly rife in the Netherlands, reveals Wiskerke. “We have lowered the salt levels of our snacks in the last few years. But of course, you have to also consider sustainability. When it comes to sourcing we are following high ethical standards and we are working towards 100 percent recyclability for our plastic consumer packaging by 2025.
“So, all our efforts are in line with consumer preferences.”
Spotlight on MSG
Intersnack concepts such as Chio Heartbreakers and POM-BÄR removed MSG several years ago. POM-BÄR was one of the first MSG-free concepts on the Dutch market.
Wiskerke says the whole Chio portfolio has been free from MSG since 2018.
“We see a common pattern emerge,” Wiskerke claims. “More manufacturers are taking away MSG from their brands. Of course, there are still brands that contain MSG, but across almost every category, there have been efforts made in reformulating without using MSG as an ingredient.”
It’s all part of a process, he highlights. “We have a long-term strategy, and we want to step by step, improve all our products where possible.”
Intersnack is also aiming to improve the nutritional values of its savory snack products. There has been more attention for more versatile protein ingredients such as lentils and chickpeas.
“When looking into lentil chips, for instance, the fibers and proteins are already higher than in other savory snacks,” asserts Wiskerke.
“We have been aiming to lower the ‘baddies’ and increase the ‘goodies,’ which gives these a higher nutritional value and make these snacks more appealing to health-conscious consumers.”
Consumers lead change
Wiskerke expects that there is a significant change coming in terms of reformulation in the savory snacking sector.
“The people driving the changes are the consumers,” he says. “And the manufacturers need to listen to the consumers.”
Given the circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need for and a shift in the way that savory snacks are seen.
“There is so much that is possible in ways of technical reformulations, and players can do this in a way that creates added value for consumers,” affirms Wiskerke.
“Progress is being made, but I think that every manufacturer should take their responsibility on board.”
Intersnack responsibly uses its expertise to optimize its portfolio and fulfill the company’s objectives. “We are passionate about enriching people’s lives with the right choices of great tasting savory snacks,” concludes Wiskerke.
By Elizabeth Green
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