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Dialling up the taste: Can low-fat snacks finally bask in a full-flavour glow?
Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. Yet in the context of the low-fat snacking market, health-conscious consumers are feeling short-changed.
Unappealing, dry and flavourless are just a handful of the less enthusiastic terms levelled at the current offering, evidenced by data which indicates a narrow range of low or reduced-fat savoury snacks. And of those that do exist, not enough deliver on flavour or mouthfeel.
Despite consumer demand shifting away from oil-laden snacks in favour of lower-fat options, and with low-fat snacks the second most frequently consumed healthy snacks in Europe, there is a limited offering of healthy snacks that deliver the rich and full eating experience required to guarantee the repeat purchases essential for a product’s long-term success. And with the healthy snacks market expected to rise globally at a CAGR of 6.6% from 2022 to 2030, the potential gains for manufacturers who can improve and diversify are clearly there.1
Against this backdrop, is it notable and perhaps unsurprising that research by Griffith Foods has revealed a sizeable gap between the low-fat snacking market in Europe versus consumer demand to the tune of 8% versus 60%.2 With consumers willing to pay 20% more for a healthy snack, as opposed to a standard full-fat version, this represents further opportunities for snack manufacturers to fill the gap with delicious offerings – that also happen to tick the box of being lower in fat.
“Taste is always king in savoury snacks," says Mieke Bloemen, market manager, Snacks Europe at Griffith Foods. “Also, for low fat snacks, consumers expect a healthier snack combined with a full flavour that meets their taste expectations.
So how can snack manufacturers succeed here where others have failed?
What consumers want from low-fat snacks
Research into snacking, carried out by Griffith Foods, shows that consumers in Europe are seeking better health contributions. Health claims including more favourable A/B ratings of Nutri-Score or green/amber traffic light labelling (UK), as well as low-fat, no E numbers or additives claims on pack all heavily boost the consumer buying intention.
In addition, consumers are also demanding new and novel flavour profiles within the low-fat landscape in which snacking is linked to improving physical and mental wellbeing, losing weight or boosting energy levels.
To help manufacturers leverage low-fat snacking opportunities and create pleasing snacking experiences for consumers, Griffith Foods has launched Savour Flex, a toolbox of ingredients designed to impact the flavour richness of a low-fat snack. The difference? The snacks have the potential to taste much like their full-fat counterparts. Delivering on taste is a key driver behind the innovation whose ‘flavour-first’ ethos is essential in order to fulfil a rich and full eating experience that will encourage those crucial repeat purchases.
"The Savour Flex Tool Box can help manufacturers reduce their oil usage by between 10-25% while still delivering on flavour and mouthfeel," says Simon Hewlett, Snacks R&D manager, Griffith Foods.
The toolbox provides a demonstration range of six seasonings, from Sea Salt to Roasted Paprika and BBQ, all vegan and gluten free, all of which are designed to be blended with the right unique flavour profile and meet the requested nutritional labelling needs of the manufacturer.
To combat the ‘dryness’ typically experienced when fat is removed, the substances trigger the umami and calcium receptors in the mouth, in what’s known as the ‘Kokumi effect’. This enhances a product’s existing sweetness, saltiness, citrus and umami characters, while masking some of the bitter and astringent notes, resulting in a more full-bodied eating experience across a range of snacking applications.
“Kokumi is particularly relevant when fat has been significantly decreased, as it amplifies all the basic tastes, leaving a more complex, richer, more body and longer lasting flavour,” says Hewlett.
The toolbox can address and improve:
- Sodium reduction Sodium Flex technology helps to reduce overall sodium levels and add beneficial Potassium Chloride while reducing any associated metallic bitter notes.
- Fat reduction Reducing fat and saturated fat contents thanks to the formula design.
- Protein fortification Protein can be added through seasoning to manipulate the Nutri-Score, but typically has some bitter notes. Savour Flex reduces the bitter astringency of proteins.
- Fibre fortification For manufacturers wishing to add insoluble fibres into a product to boost a nutritional rating, Savour Flex helps to amplify the sweetness of the product, thereby improving flavour profile without the use of additional sugar or sweetener.
Savour Flex works as an oil spray dust-on application to flavour and improve the mouthfeel of snacks such as popped crisps, baked snacks, extruded snacks, veggie based extruded and rice cakes. And thanks to the use of spray heads in the flavour drum, manufacturers can also clean down equipment more easily, saving time and reducing the risk of cross-contamination that can occur with slurry systems which pump a pre-mix of oil and dry seasoning via pipework.
“Not only does this method replace the loss of body and boost the flavour profile, creating a more fulfilling eat, you can reduce clean down times,” explains Hewlett. “This also helps reduce the risk of allergen contamination because you’re only spraying pure oil, not flavour.”
The innovation has already garnered support. Sensory research conducted by Griffith Foods shows that 59% of low-fat snack consumers prefer the Savour Flex solution, even above a standard high fat (HFSS) product. “Savour Flex Savour Flex is a toolbox that blends your requested flavour profile and has the potential to impact nutritional labelling requests," says Bloemen.
“It has the potential to improve Nutri-Scores from C to B, traffic-light labelling from red to amber and HFSS to non-HFSS claims.”
Within the savoury snacking market, the stakes are even higher for manufacturers launching healthier products: lower-fat snacks typically require a higher material cost, so achieving a successful launch by delivering the best eating experience possible is more critical than ever.
“By sharing our capabilities across consumer insights, sensory and culinary expertise, we can help secure a product launch in the market. Delivering that flavour element is part of securing those potential sales and we are here to help manufacturers succeed,” says Bloemen. “Our aim is that consumers feel more satisfied while enjoying healthier snacks.”
Savour Flex’s launch is part of a transformation of the company’s wider portfolio whose pillars of sustainability and innovation are aligned with its overall purpose of to ‘Blend Care and Creativity to Nourish the World’ – both the planet and the health of its people. For those who can successfully marry low-fat attributes with deliciousness, delivering variety across the category seems promising, with both manufacturers and consumers set to reap the rewards.
Savour Flex was a Sensory Innovation Finalist in the FIE Innovations Awards 2022. For more information visit Savour Flex.
1. Healthy Snacks Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Frozen & Refrigerated, Fruit, Bakery, Savory, Confectionery, Dairy, Others), By Distribution Channel, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2022-2030.
2. Griffith Foods Low Fat Savoury Snacking Survey in Europe (n= 3,452 respondents in France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden, UK).