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Healthy signs for snacks manufacturers

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:11/22/2016 08:11:23 PM

Interview with Christian Philippsen, managing director of BENEO Asia-Pacific

THE Nielsen Global Snacking Report[1] (2014) notes the huge opportunity for snack manufacturers to gain market share in the nutritious, portable and easy-to-eat meal alternative market. According to the study, 63 percent of respondents snack because of nutrition while 61 percent said they snack to get an energy boost. Snack food companies can take advantage of the trend by formulating their products with new functional ingredients.

For further insights, we spoke to Christian Philippsen, managing director of BENEO Asia-Pacific.

Christian Philippsen, managing director of BENEO Asia-Pacific

What ingredients do you offer manufacturers involved in snacks fortification and their competitive advantages compared to your competitors?

BENEO can help food manufacturers meet consumers’ needs and preferences by offering ingredients from nature that improve the nutritional profile and provide health benefits. The company’s portfolio includes prebiotic fibers from chicory root (Orafti® Inulin and Orafti® Oligofructose), and functional carbohydrates from sugar beet (the next generation sugar Palatinose™ and the sugar replacer ISOMALT) to reformulate snack recipes.

Snacks with high glycaemic carbohydrates such as glucose, maltodextrine or sucrose drastically increase blood sugar levels, which also drop as fast as they have increased due to regulation by our body. A constant rise and fall of blood sugar levels not only places stress on the metabolism, but also increases the risk factor for various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes in the long run.

With BENEO’s ingredients, manufacturers can replace high glycaemic carbohydrates in snack products such as beverages, baked goods, cereal, confectionery, and dairy. They have a mild sweet taste and are soluble which means they don’t affect taste and texture. Additionally, the low glycaemic characteristics of BENEO’s chicory root fibers and functional carbohydrates have been confirmed by the European Commission that approved EU health claims for all of them.

For manufacturers that want both benefits of a lower blood glucose and less calories in the products, chicory root fibers and ISOMALT are the ingredients of choice. While ISOMALT can replace sugar in a 1:1 ratio, chicory root fibers replace sugars partially in confectionery, dairy, bakery and cereals. Additionally, inulin and oligofructose not only reduce sugars, they add a valuable source of prebiotic fiber.

Both ISOMALT and prebiotic fibers provide a mild sweet taste and can support the sugar-like sweetness many consumers seek when enjoying snacks. At the same time, inulin is used to cut fat and add fiber in applications such as dairy or meat. Its long chain molecular structure and its low solubility enable it to form fat-like granules in water-containing systems under high shear. With its neutral and balanced flavor, it does not affect the taste of the product while delivering a similar mouthfeel, texture and creaminess.

Worldwide, there are only three proven prebiotics: chicory root fibers, galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS), and lactulose, which is not a dietary fiber but a non-digestible sugar. From these, only chicory root fibers are natural, plant-based prebiotics. They have shown to act as nourishment for the good bacteria in our gut and thus support digestive health as well as bowel regularity.

BENEO only recently received an exclusive EU health claim for inulin supporting digestive health. Digestive health is an ever growing consumers’ concern.

One of Mintel’s 12 key food and drink trends for 2016 “From the inside out” clearly shows that more consumers see and understand the impact diets have on the way they look and feel.

By using BENEO’s inulin from chicory root, manufacturers can create a high-fiber and low-sugar product that has the same texture and sensorial mouthfeel as one with full sugar equivalent

In your view what is fueling the demand for fortified snacks?

Urban consumers today lead hectic lifestyles. We see increasing demand for snacks as consumers tend to eat on-the-go for their main meals or when in need of a quick boost of energy. As such, snacking has become a preferred and convenient choice for them. Market figures show that the global market for snack foods is projected to exceed US$630 billion by 2020. Asia-Pacific is expected to register the fastest CAGR of 7.2 percent.2  

Yet, while consumers seek convenient solutions, they also look at the food labels to see if the food has balanced nutritional profiles and can supply the energy level they need in order to get through busy days. Credible benefits displayed on the packaging make them feel more comfortable with their purchase decisions. While convenience remains a key driver for the food industry in the future, the increasing emphasis on ‘healthy alternatives’ is redefining the snack, ready meals and sauces categories. Food manufacturers are thus faced with the challenge to offer convenient food solutions that meet the consumers’ demand for naturalness and nutritional benefits.

Snacking itself is not a problem, if done right, it can even be part of a healthy lifestyle.

What emerging trends do you see in snacks fortification, particularly in Southeast Asia?

In recent years, we have seen consumers in Asia seek healthier food options. This applies to snacks too. Consumers now not only expect snack products to deliver pleasure and energy, but to also contain naturally-derived ingredients and provide health benefits. They are also more willing to invest in healthier food alternatives.

Consumers are demanding for natural and ‘less processed’ food and drink today, as identified by Mintel3. Results from a BENEO-commissioned consumer research also show that a majority of consumers in Indonesia and Thailand prefer to include natural products in their diet. The findings revealed that 94 percent of Indonesian and 91 percent of Thai respondents consider natural products as better, while 74 percent and 81 percent of respondents in Indonesia and Thailand respectively, actively look for natural products when making food purchase decisions.

BENEO meets this trend as our Orafti® Oligofructose and Inulin are derived from chicory root while Palatinose™ and Isomalt are sourced from beet sugar.

By including ingredients that provide health benefits, snacking can play an important role in a nutritionally balanced and healthy diet.

With nearly half of consumers (45 percent) looking for snacks that go beyond basic nutrition4, and almost one in five (17 percent) buying snacks to manage their weight, convenient food snacks that combine both indulgence and balanced nutrition are growing in popularity among consumers.

With consumers becoming more aware of the dangers of consuming too much sugar, we also see growing interest in product variants with less sugar. While consumers are looking for healthier versions, particularly in indulgent snack products such as confectionery and chocolate, food manufacturers need to convince consumers that taste and mouthfeel will not be compromised despite the lower sugar content.

BENEO’s naturally derived functional fibers and carbohydrates enhance the nutritional profile of products, while replacing and reducing sugar, fat and consequently calories. Technical trials have shown that combining our sugar replacer ISOMALT and the natural chicory root fiber inulin results in sugar-reduced chocolate which match the taste and mouthfeel of full sugar versions. The team created chocolate with different sugar formulations – one with 30 percent reduction in sugar and another without added sugar.

What challenges do you face in terms of meeting the snacks manufacturers’ requirements and satisfying government regulations?

One of the key challenges is the need to have a good basis for the messages that manufacturers would like to communicate to end-consumers. This requires continuous investment in scientific studies to substantiate the benefits of our ingredients as well as a close cooperation with the legal authorities around the world to make claims possible.

Research studies and statistics are important but consumers are not adept to this kind of language. Therefore, it is critical that the products are properly and accurately labelled with easily-comprehensible claims. This helps consumers to easily find, pick and choose the healthiest products with the right ingredients.

BENEO supports manufacturers throughout the entire development process to help customers bring innovative products with functional benefits to the market.

Technical trials by BENEO have shown that combining their sugar replacer ISOMALT and the natural chicory root fiber inulin results in tasty sugar-reduced chocolate

What are your plans in terms of serving the demands of manufacturers in snacks fortification?

We will continue to offer ingredients from natural sources, with sound scientific substantiation of their benefits and the expertise on how to best apply them. We trust that we can inspire food manufacturers to improve the physiological characteristics of their snack products to offer long-term nutritional health benefits for consumers.

As Asia’s population becomes increasingly urbanised and leading fast-paced lives, they are also more aware of the need to maintain good health to keep up with the pace. Additionally, with rising income levels, they are also more willing to spend on healthier food products.

A recent consumer research commissioned by BENEO in China and Indonesia shows, for example, that more than 80 percent of consumers consider health impacts when eating and/or buying food. About the same number of consumers are willing to try new products and ingredients when they have a health benefit claim on it.

We believe that there is still vast potential in the region and BENEO’s ingredients will be able to keep up with the dynamic changes in consumer demands.

References

[1] Nielsen Global Snacking Report

2 Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (2015), ‘Snack foods - a global strategic business report

Mintel (2015), ‘Mintel identifies global food and drink trends for 2016

4 Wyatt, S. L. 2014. “The State of the Snack Food Industry.” Presented at SNAXPO Snack Food Assoc. Annual Meeting, Dallas, March 1–4.

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