Welcome to indulgent health


In the past 5 years, we've seen a growing trend towards consumers seeking out more healthy snacks; although “natural” and “clean label” have been buzzwords around the food and nutrition industry, consumers are now gravitating towards snacks that are both indulgent and healthy, reports Glanbia

This new category of indulgent health is growing robustly. In fact, according to the IRI 2016 State of the Snack Food Industry Report, indulgent snacks have seen 3.4% growth since 2015.

As manufacturers look to find a balance between indulgent and health to address this consumer demand, we have seen the introduction of single serving sizes, thin varieties or snacks that mix in more natural ingredients such as whole grains, superfruits and vegetables.

Many industry commentators maintain that consumers will always choose indulgence as opposed to health to treat themselves, but there is a certainly a growing trend towards combining the two. It’s about adding enjoyment to healthy eating and appealing to consumers on both levels.

The rise in adding protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals has also seen a big increase in the past few years. Yoghurts and breakfast drinks that have a chocolate or vanilla flavour, enriched with added protein to make consumers feel fuller longer, along with added vitamins, calcium and iron, are all regular features on today’s supermarket shelves.

Coupled with the busy lifestyles many consumers now have means they are looking for healthy indulgent snacks that are fast, tasty and can be consumed on-the-go.

In fact, looking at things in reverse, recent research from the University of California found that even just labelling healthy foods with a more indulgent description, evoking more fattening food, prompted a 25% increased uptake compared with a more basic description.

Innovation on display

At the recent Vitafoods trade show in Geneva, Switzerland, there were plenty of examples of manufacturers looking to blend ingredients to highlight how natural solutions can be combined with indulgent tastes, such as chocolate or caramel.

Formulators have been experimenting with multiple ingredients to highlight how food and beverage manufacturers can create indulgent snacks with added health benefits, to address this spike in consumer demand.

One such example is Glanbia Nutritionals, a leader in nutritional solutions for the food, beverage and supplement industries, which created several prototypes for the Vitafoods show to emphasise how manufacturers can develop healthy snacks that taste great, and appeal on an indulgent level.

Glanbia developed a new chocolate caramel High Protein Bar for the show aimed at the snack market. Featuring its BarPro Milk Protein ingredient, a modified milk protein isolate, it delivers a unique dough-like texture and minimises bar hardening, as well as containing high levels of dairy protein for muscle maintenance and nutrition.

It constitutes a healthy and nutritious on-the-go bar for consumers, with the added indulgence of caramel and chocolate. In the past healthy and nutritious, especially in the bar category, has resulted in a cardboard-like and tasteless experience, but more and more manufacturers are seeking ways to change this.

Welcome to indulgent health

On its stand, Glanbia showcased its expertise and innovation in this category and demonstrated how its helped customers develop natural, healthy and indulgent bars that appeal to the mass market.

With the global nutrition and supplement market valued at approximately $104 billion in 2015, this has become a huge growth area for nutrition companies. Many exhibitors at Vitafoods highlighted their expertise in combining vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in functional foods, to appeal to today’s consumers seeking alternative ways to up their intake of healthy ingredients.

One highlight was Glanbia Nutritional’s Crystal Bursts Technology, a unique delivery vehicle for supplements offering nutrient-rich supplement benefits, with added functional advantages.

Working with a partner, Glanbia developed three prototypes for the Vitafoods show to appeal to different consumer categories. Very similar to the popping candy many enjoyed as children, it proved very popular with visitors. With consumers of all ages seeking an alternative to pills and traditional delivery, this is a fun and unique way to take supplements.

Glanbia introduced Adults Energy Crystal Bursts, formulated with a tailored premix of nutrients, supporting increased alertness and less fatigue.

Kids Health Crystal Bursts, formulated with a child-friendly premix solution, including choline and leutin, promote healthy development and support a range of biological functions including vision and immunity.

Finally, Glanbia demonstrated Bioferrin Iron Crystal Bursts containing Bioferrin, a patented natural biologically active milk protein isolated from sweet whey. It provides a better and safer alternative to adding additional iron sources to the body for enhanced endurance, processing the iron in a way that doesn’t upset the stomach, all in the form of confectionery.

From popping candy supplements to tasty bars and snacks, Vitafoods highlighted an array of innovative and creative solutions in the indulgent health category. It will be interesting to see how this market grows as more manufacturers work in partnership with ingredient providers to develop innovative and fun ways to provide consumers with the decadent, tasty and healthy snacks they desire.