Feature Article – Raising the bar on baked nutrition
Demand for healthier snacks has brought a golden opportunity for industrial bakers to tap in to new types of snack, such as the nutrition bar. Consumed as a quick bite between meals or an easy meal on the go, protein and fibre-rich bars have definitively moved out of the sports niche and into the mainstream market. Today, sales are growing at around 11 percent per year.
Fast-paced everyday lifestyles are the reason why many consumers increasingly rely on snacking to deliver more of their daily nutrition. As this trend has evolved, the nutrition bar market has moved into the mainstream – driven by the desire for more convenient, healthy and portable snacks.
Regardless of their actual market positioning, the majority of bars are eaten as a snack, with some 25 percent being consumed as a meal replacement product. The predominant snackers can be found in the younger age groups, who snack primarily in the morning and late evening. During the day, snacking is popular among all age groups.
‘Healthy’ is a desirable attribute for all snacking occasions. Benefits associated with protein are particularly favoured at breakfast, between meals and at other regular meal times.
That’s quite an opportunity for industrial bakers, and – as it turns out – the incorporation of additional healthy attributes in bars is relatively easy. For example, application trials at DuPont Nutrition & Health have shown that nothing could be simpler than producing a baked nutrition bar on existing bakery equipment. This could add the extra dimension that raises consumer awareness of a brand – tying in with today’s protein, fibre and satiety trends while radiating the indulgence of a traditional bake.
From a standard flapjack to a crunchy nutrition bar – high in protein and fibre
To illustrate how easy it is to upgrade a standard snack bar to a nutrition bar, DuPont’s application specialists have turned a traditional tray-baked English flapjack bar and transformed it into a high protein and high fibre flapjack bar.
Partial oat replacement with crispy soy protein
The nutritional upgrade on the protein side was achieved by replacing part of the oats with a crispy soy product called Supro Nuggets 173 IP. The nuggets are extruded from a blend of soya protein, rice, oat and barley and have a pleasant cereal note that is highly compatible with the cereal taste and texture of the traditional flapjack bar.
Formulation for upgrading a baked flapjack with protein and fibre
Containing 60 percent vegetable protein, the addition of Supro Nuggets is enough to qualify the final bar for an EU-approved high protein claim, which requires that 20 percent of the energy comes from protein. The nugget range offers a broad assortment of colours, shapes and textures to choose from, creating many opportunities for novel product development.
Manufacturers can also make use of many other natural protein sources, including almonds and other nuts, ancient grains and seeds.
Healthy but invisible dietary fibre
Some more thought has to go into increasing the fibre level without impacting sensory quality. Although oats are naturally high in fibre, the flapjack recipe requires a little extra to qualify for a high fibre claim as well. The EU-approved claim requires that a product contains at least six grams of fibre per 100g, or three grams per 100 kcal.
For the DuPont team, the obvious place to start was Litesse Ultra polydextrose, a soluble dietary fibre with half the energy of sugar. Used in many bakery concepts, Litesse Ultra stands out for its undetectable presence in the final product. It’s also very well tolerated compared to other soluble fibres such as inulin and FOS types, which can have a laxative effect at lower dosages and require a warning labelling if used in higher concentrations.
When adding the polydextrose, it is important to ensure the mixture still has the right viscosity and binding properties. To achieve that, a mixture of sucrose and fructose can replace the standard sugar syrup. This has the added advantage that fructose supports stable blood sugar levels – a contributor to longer-lasting satiety like protein and fibre – and significantly reduces the carbohydrates from 66 percent to 45 percent. The result is a 25 percent reduction in total sugars, responding to the current consumer trend that perceives sugar as the new demon.
Compared to the traditional English flapjack, the taste and texture of the baked nutrition bar is just as appealing. The noticeable difference is the on-pack high protein and high fibre claims and the reduced carbs and sugars in the nutrition declaration.
– This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Kennedy's Bakery Production.