Grab and go: Slovenian snack company to distribute energy and protein balls to Middle East
The product range will include plant-based energy balls and protein balls, in various flavours.
The firm’s export manager, Matjaz Irsic told FoodNavigator-Asia that consumers in the Gulf countries were increasingly becoming more health conscious and want their snacks in a convenient form.
High protein foods are associated with satiety, and as consumer lifestyles becoming busier, they are willing to spend on convenient, and healthier foods. This presented a premium opportunity for the snacks industry.
At the 2019 Gulfood Manufacturing where the firm was exhibiting, Arla Foods Ingredients also expressed the rising trend of healthy snacking in the Middle East where the protein bar industry was worth US$30 million in 2018, and estimated to reach US$46 million by 2023.
Move over protein bar
According to Irsic, Touched by Nature’s products are an alternative to regular protein bars.
“Consumers want to have healthy products on the go. It is a new trend in the Middle East to consume energy and protein balls, especially since protein bars are very popular there,” Irsic said.
The protein balls the firm is planning to bring into the Gulf region are plant-based, made from almond, and rice protein.
Irsic told us that besides providing the functional benefits of energy and protein products, consumers are also demanding organic versions.
“Our products are raw, suitable for vegans, and many of these kinds of bars contain peanut but we are a peanut-free supplier. We do not process any peanut product in our facility, so consumers who have an allergen are likely to pick up our products.”
Another challenge was to maintain a great-tasting product that is also healthier.
Irsic expressed that: “Many healthy items are not tasty. We will export different flavours of energy balls to cater to local tastes.”
Energy and protein balls
The energy balls are natural, gluten-free, vegan, with no added sugar, making it a convenient energy boost.
They are made from natural ingredients including raspberry, date, cashew, cocoa nibs, acai, walnut, and cinnamon.
Its protein balls are high in protein, and also vegan. It uses a range of protein including hemp, pea, whey, and rice.
All the products are produced in Slovenia and the company intends to enter Middle East in Q1 2020, and will be available in supermarkets first.
Touched by Nature is currently available in Slovenia, EU and Canada, in supermarket chains, pharmacy, and organic stores.