The trend towards healthy eating continues unabated
Inspiring consumers with creative, high-quality snacks
For that “little something” in between: when you are at home, on a break, or on your way to the next meeting, a snack can be a real savior. And the variety of snacks out there is increasing because consumers are steadily raising the bar on what constitutes the “perfect snack”. What are the current trends and where is the snack market headed? Uwe Benz, Head of the FRITSCH Technology Center, has a lot of interesting answers.
What can you never have enough of in life? That’s easy: Time. So it should come as no surprise that quick and practical snacks are in stronger demand than ever. But let’s not forget: you are what you eat! So more people are also showing a preference for a high-quality, healthy diet. Our appetite for readily available snacks is as big as ever, but our ravenousness for good quality is even bigger.
What do consumers want? There is a clear answer to that: a snack should not only stay your hunger; it should contribute some genuine goodness. Snacking is part of our lifestyle and betrays our special enjoyment of innovative foods, including pastries and breads. New kinds are being introduced all the time – and at the same time good-old favorites are being rediscovered and redeveloped into real trends.
The retro-classic – successfully relaunched
A trend that won’t die so easily is the classic ham and cheese snack, or perhaps even the salami and veggie snack. Often, all you need to do is to add one more ingredient, or use a different sort of dough, and voilà: a new snack is born, in homage to a classic – and it took little to no effort. Even the classic carazza (filled mini-pizza) is experiencing a revival, often with high-quality fillings. The same goes for all variations on “pigs in a blanket”. And let’s not forget the pretzel-lover. While the salty pretzel is still a classic “on-the-go” product, bakeries are coming up with all kinds of new creations. Consumers just love munching on these little morsels prepared with cheddar cheese or honey & mustard.
The FRITSCH Technology Team has set itself the task of reviving the classic “Toast Hawaii”, albeit in a new shape and new dough. The “Croissant Hawaii” is a croissant dough filled with ham, pineapple, and cheese. Producing it is a challenge not to be underestimated, given the different water content of each different filling.
„Basically, we’re seeing a revival of trends that
had already existed before“
Fragrant bread dough meets spicy sausage specialty: “Pan con chorizo” is enjoying growing popularity, even if it is not a new snack. It is a type of bread that has had chopped pieces of chorizo automatically inserted and wrapped in the dough and a finishing decoration cut into the roll. “Pan con chorizo” originated in Portugal, but is just as popular among consumers in Italy and France. In all likelihood, this spicy snack’s success will keep spreading into Germany and Central Europe.
This retro-trend will not stop at Eastern Europe’s boarders, either. It is being made with mainly the classic fillings – but with better and higher quality ingredients. Also, an increasing amount of filling is being used, where the dough/filling ratio is often at around 50/50. It’s these kinds of wrapped or rolled products in particular that present a challenge for machine manufacturers. These snacks are often made from thin dough or croissant pastry. Filled snacks are highly popular in Northern Europe, too. “Ruisreikäleipä”, a specialty from Finland, is a round bread with a characteristic hole in the middle. This popular breakfast snack is baked from a very soft rye dough and is served with a cream cheese filling. It can be bought deep-frozen, and takes only a few minutes to prepare in the toaster.
Crossover – Sweet meets savory
Crossover products, which combine ingredients that might not seem to work together at first sight – like bread dough with chili & chocolate – are also quite a trend.
Take pizza, for example: there are forever new sweet pizzas coming out on the market, by which we mean classic pizza doughs combined with a sweet topping like vanilla custard, chocolate, and fruits. Or there are sweet brioche doughs being combined with savory fillings. Again, there is a lot of experimentation with different shapes and sizes. The Canadian snack market is another market characterized by many sweet-sour or sweet-n-spicy combinations. Highly popular is, for example, a potato filling in a sweet yeast dough.
Creativity can be healthy
Healthy snacks are still on a steep rise. Above all, integrating superfoods like chia seeds, hempseed, goji berries, and other seeds and nuts into the dough or as toppings really raises the value of the snack. Another fact: natural coloring of doughs is not only pleasing to the eye, it also fits perfectly into the health-conscious diet. The classic green of superfoods, for example, can be achieved with matcha or spinach. Beetroot will give the dough a reddish color; pumpkin makes a beautiful orange; and blueberry syrup will create an appealing blue. A trend that goes down particularly well with younger target groups is products colored with natural ingredients that don’t change the flavor, filling consistency, or baking properties.
Replacing delicious yet unhealthy products is another cause that many bakers have joined. The “baguette bagel” is a good example of this. Using a high quality bread dough goes a long way toward achieving a healthy balance in the snack.
Products that are healthy and offer the consumer an added value are also trendy. Especially when you can pick them up quickly and easily.
Baked goods producers can use creative combinations of healthy components to gain a strong position in the market. Producing your own high quality fillings, for example, is one clear way to set yourself apart from the rest. Classical products that aren’t really healthy are gradually being pushed out of the market. Classic Danish pastries with vanilla, marzipan, or nut fillings are on a steep decline.
Simple healthy snacks that taste good and are affordable, high quality, and a handy size for eating have taken the lead. An example would be rye bread with a cream cheese filling and fruit puree. This is a high quality product with low cost ingredients and a long shelf life. Beyond the very technology of FRITSCH lines, the most important things to consider are shelf life, hygiene, baking stability, storage stability, packaging requirements, and cooling and freezing processes. No less important is the availability of good quality raw materials. After all, only those who have the best ingredients can develop the best products – and thus create new trends in the market.
Challenges in the production process
New products are putting new demands on the machines. Applying fillings is complicated by three main challenges. One is that fillings of different sizes, shapes, and consistencies cannot all be applied by one filling unit alone. Another is that different fillings often have different temperature ranges. Some fillings have to be heated, while others have to be cooled for hygienic reasons or to prolong shelf life. And, finally, the whole product system has to remain stable even when relatively large quantities of filling are added. It must not collapse when put down, and must not break when transported. The product therefore has to remain sturdy and compact without developing big holes in the dough.
When producing colorings from natural ingredients, the challenge lies in integrating them stably into the filling without changing any of the filling’s properties, so that the baking characteristics also stay the same. Through the enzymatic and baking processes, the brown color sets in and the very surfaces change, upon which the color inside the product also undergoes some change. Working with colors therefore requires close concentration on the baking process.
„For us, it is important not to lose sight of the natural production methods. We can use ingredients to stabilize the dough, but they are not ubiquitously available. The approach we need to take for using natural raw materials is that the ingredients for producing snacks should be available worldwide.“
FRITSCH: Full of ideas
At the FRITSCH Technology Center, we test and create recipes for new snacks and fillings in order to inspire our customers – and to create new trends and ideas. Lasting, affordable, sustainable, and flavorfully innovative. Our advantage is our internationality. By being international, we are continually discovering new perspectives and ideas for creative products. Working from these, in a collaborative process with our engineers, we are continually making advancements to our machines and components.
„Our customers all have the same task. They have to keep developing new products – with ideas that surprise and impress their customers.“
So, what’s the conclusion to all this? In future, what will matter most will be innovativeness and creativity in the snack segment! If you have any questions or if you would like to learn more about all this, talk to us.
A bit about Uwe Benz
Uwe Benz is an enthusiastic and experienced master baker and food technologist, and has headed the FRITSCH Technology Center since 2017. His favorite snack: Because of where he grew up, it has to be the pretzel. He can eat them any time – best of all in new variations and with all kinds of different toppings. His favorite toping is a mixture of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and coconut.
The FRITSCH Technology Centre
The FRITSCH Technology Center offers a fully-equipped, 4,600 m² baking centre to our customers. FRITSCH's complete line and machine programme is naturally at your service – from the smallest ROLLFIX to the industrial production lines from the FRITSCH IMPRESSA programme. This means baking technology at its best. This is how the FTC, coupled with the expertise and passion of its employees, offers our customers the best possible support.