Why Functional Nutrition Matters So Much for Portable Snacks
The International Food Information Council Foundation reported in its “2019 Food & Health Survey” that 97 percent of Americans now snack at some point during the week, with 57 percent snacking at least once a day.2 These numbers underscore the important new role that snacks play in the typical daily diet.
As the frequency of snacking increases, so too does the expectation for healthy snack food options—especially high protein and fiber, low and no added sugars, and a calorie content that’s not excessive. Today’s busy consumers are relying on snacks to cover their basic nutrition needs, particularly when snacks are consumed in place of meals. However, for portable snacks, which are used as pick-me-ups at work, for pre- and post-workout nutrition, and to support weight loss efforts, basic nutrition is not enough.
Functional Nutrition: Above and Beyond
Snack foods with functional nutrition can address the specific health and wellness concerns that snacking consumers have. Not only do functional snacks offer unique health benefits to consumers, but they also stand out as the clear better-for-you snack choice on the shelf, providing a competitive advantage to manufacturers of functional snacks.
Examples of functional nutrition in snacks include:
- Probiotics and prebiotic fibers for digestive health
- DHA omega-3 fatty acids for heart and cognitive health
- B vitamins and caffeine for energy
- Amino acids for exercise recovery
- MCTs to support weight loss for keto dieters
- Protein to support strength, fitness and well-being
Functional Ways to Improve a Snack
An easy way to upgrade a snack food to a functional snack food is through a custom nutrient premix. First, a manufacturer chooses the functional ingredient or blend of ingredients that will address a specific, in-demand consumer need, along with the amount that will deliver the best effect. These ingredients could range from proteins containing properties optimized to work better in a certain snack or plant-based ingredients specifically for snacks that offer a great source of fiber and omegas.
Then, a custom nutrient premix is formulated from these ingredients, with adjustments made for uniform particle size (through milling or agglomeration) and a minimal taste and odor impact (through microencapsulation). Nutrition bars and cookies, cereal cups, and ready-to-drink beverages are some of the most popular portable snacks using a custom nutrient premix to deliver functional nutrition.