Although penned in 2018, LEK Consulting’s survey findings still hold true today, noting “Healthy eating has become mainstream, with most consumers expecting foods and beverages that meet increasingly nuanced attributes of health and wellness, ethics and sustainability.
“What hasn’t changed is consumers’ delight in products that are indulgent and delicious.”
So what makes a snack healthy? It obviously needs to have less fat, salt and sugar, but, according to Alex Brassil, cofounder of JNCK Bakery in Warrington, UK, it goes beyond that and needs to have some nutritional value.
“What’s interesting is there is no legal requirement to be classed as a health brand – for some, it’s all just clever marketing,” Brassil told Bakery&Snacks.
“Based on research carried out at JNCK Bakery, we think 5% of healthy snacking products are probably actually healthy.”
Emulating the 'genuine' treat
JNCK cookies, in contrast, have been rated Non-HFSS with a Nutri-Score of zero as they have 90% less sugar and 50% less saturated fat compared to existing products, said Brassil.
“Two years and thousands of tests went into their creation. They were inspired by the delicious, gooey cookies I used to get at school. I loved those cookies – so much so, I even had my 12th birthday cake made from them – but even as a 12-year-old, I recognised they were unhealthy: they were so greasy that they turned the paper bags clear.”
Being fun and tasting terrific, he still gobbled them up.
“Taste and enjoyment are key purchase drivers, so healthier brands need to meet those needs in order to reach a broad customer base and build product and brand loyalty,” said Brassil.
“If you put function first, especially with indulgent categories such as bakery, you lose out on the majority of shoppers who, most of the time, will be coming to bakery for a ‘genuine’ treat.
“With that in mind, we’ve recreated the delicious taste of those cookies but taken out the bad stuff: our cutting-edge sweetness modulation means JNCK Bakery products deliver without all the sugar and fat, which is no mean feat, as these elements bring so much more than just taste and texture.
“We have used a range of techniques to develop the desired high quality, sweet, chewy, crunchy, cookie range.”
What’s more, the bakery has added good stuff, claiming its cookies contain 3x the protein and 5x fibre of other brands on the market.
“We’ve used ingredients such as pea protein for satiation, prebiotic fibre for gut health and a bespoke, low sugar, protein chocolate. That’s what makes them truly healthy. Plus, they don’t include any palm oil,” said Brassil.
While the growth of the protein snacks market was an indication of a bigger need for a healthier approach to snacks and grab and go, Brassil told this site the team at JNCK “felt strongly that we could create products that still tasted, felt and looked like indulgent snacks.”
He noted this message is carried in all its marketing, through to the bakery’s colourful recyclable packaging. Recent UK government legislation means that high losses are predicted in HFSS (high fat salt and sugar) categories, with biscuit snacks predicted to be the second worst hit, according to IRI.
As such, JNCK has partnered with coffee shops and retailers to give healthier cookies away through a cookie ticket machine. It’s also targeted commuters with a healthier cookie monster.
“We’ve just created some lovely impactful point of sale that has genuine standout, thanks to its bold and bright design.”
As the health movement continues to grow, HFSS legislation comes in to play and marketing forced to follow rules around what can and can’t be promoted, it could lead to even more of a shift.
“Healthier products will no longer be niche or even a category: they will simply exist as products like ours do – food items that have been created to be indulgent, while still being good for you,” said Brassil.
“For JCNK, this would be a welcome development. Healthy doesn’t need to mean compromise. Healthy snacking is a choice, but it needs to be an easy choice and one that still brings fun, taste and enjoyment.”