The UK-based firm, which just returned from the European Snacks Association show Snackex in Berlin, said the prototype ‘credit-card’ snacks it displayed could “open up a whole new area of marketing opportunity”.
The products, which are thin cereal snacks containing a fruit filling, are made using a co-extrusion process first featured by Baker Perkins at InterPack last year. Since then, the firm says it has generated “a lot of interest” from customers.
New ideas in healthy snacks
“Everyone is looking for new ideas in the snacks industry, particularly in healthy snacks. This is healthy because it can be made with whole grains, it is low fat and contains a fruit filling. It is unique because, as far as we are aware, there is nothing else like it out there,” said the company’s marketing manager Keith Graham.
The snacks are 2-3mm thick and combine a crunchy cereal outer layer with a soft fruit inner layer. Because the fruit filling is spread over a large area, the product has an intense fruit flavour provided by a relatively small amount of fruit, explained Graham.
“You have two layers of a cereal product, which can be whole grain or multi-grain, and a layer of fruit in-between. The whole wafer is no more than 3mm thick, and being able to control the thickness of the various components is quite an art,” he told BakeryAndSnacks.com.
The process, which claims to be a “low cost investment”, is a co-extrusion system that can be added to an existing twin-screw line supplied by any manufacturer. The essential elements of a Baker Perkins system are the SBX twin-screw extruder, co-extrusion die, cutter crimper and cream feed system.
Graham explained that the process starts with a twin screw extruder, which forms cereal-based ingredients into a cooked mix. On its way out of the extruder, this mix passes through the die, which is a valve that can be fitted on the end of the machine. The die forms the product into a tube-shaped stream.
A pumping device attached to the equipment allows the fruit filling to be inserted into the cereal tube before it comes out of the die, which can extrude up to 12 different product streams at one time. According to Graham, multiple product streams extruded at a slower speed provide a higher quality product that one stream extruded at a faster speed.
Once the fruit-filled cereal tubes come out of the die, they enter a pillow crimping machine, which flattens them into a wafer shape, and cuts them to the required size.
Although the ‘credit card snacks’ are the novelty of the entire process, Graham said that manufacturers may choose to attach different shaping equipment to the end of the die, which can shape the product into a variety of different forms.
Graham said that no products made with this process have become commercially available as yet, but said a commercial launch is “expected”. He could not reveal the timeline.