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Processed Snacks

Today’s society is more mobile than ever. From the ubiquitous cell phones to laptop computers, consumers are all about convenience, efficiency and portability.This also is the case in the snack segment.

What are Snacks?
A snack food (commonly called a snack) is a type of food not meant to be eaten as a main meal of the day – breakfast, lunch, or dinner but one rather that is intended to abate a person's hunger between these meals, providing a brief supply of energy for the body. The term may also refer to a food item consumed between meals purely for the enjoyment of its taste. Snack food is often also regarded as a light meal.

A Brief Background
All through human history, the frequency and content of meals has varied. Since the ancient times, leftovers were being consumed as easy and moderate food items between the meals. Even couple of centuries back, these tended to be natural, sweet foods that required little or no preparation, such as grapes, figs, or apples. In nineteenth-century interest in snack foods fickled from natural foods to prepared commercial foods, with a high salt and sugar content. It is these processed foods that have been understood as snack foods since the early twenty-first century.
 
Variety of Processed Snack Food

Salty Snacks

Salty snacks account for slightly over half of total snack sales and are consequently a large part of the consumer's diet. Growth in the market is driven by convenience factors and flavor trends, and is influenced by diet and health concerns.

Key growth categories are those that offer the most product variations adhering to convenience, flavor and health trends. In terms of health, interests in salty snack products that are organic or all natural, low-calorie, low-fat, low-carbohydrate, low-sodium or offer health-promoting benefits such as soy or the elimination of trans fat are in greater demand by consumers.

Although consumers are interested in healthier snack products, they are not willing to sacrifice flavor. Intense and full-flavor snacks remain an important trend in the salty processed snack market. Finally, convenience continues to be a major factor--influencing not only the packaging and shapes of salty processed snacks, but also the convenience of purchase of such products.

 

The salty snack market is composed of the following segments:-

  • Salted Peanuts - One of the earliest processed snack foods are peanuts. During the last half of the 19th century, peanuts were eaten as a snack, sold freshly roasted by street vendors and at circuses, and fairs, and later at sporting events. The most popular are salted in-the-shell, however the new flavours - Cajun and jalapeno are getting accolades from consumers as well.
  • Popcorn - Popcorn or popping corn is a type of corn which explodes from the kernel and puffs up when heated. It is naturally high in fiber, low in calories and fat, contains no sodium, and is sugar free, which makes it an attractive snack unless one is limiting carbohydrates.
  • Pretzels - A pretzel is a baked snack item that is customarily twisted into a unique knot-like shape. The pretzel dough is made from wheat flour, water, brown sugar and yeast. Prior to baking, it is dipped into a sodium hydroxide (NaOH), sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) solution and sprinkled with coarse salt, which gives it a glazed look. The baking gives the pretzel its characteristic brown color and distinctive flavor.
  • Potato Chips - A potato chip or crisp is a thin slice of potato, deep fried or baked until crisp. Even though you can get them without salt these days, consumers are still very fond of the quintessential salty snack potato chips.
  • Trail Mix - A mix of only nuts, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and raisins is also known as student food. Common ingredients include Nuts such as peanuts or cashews; Dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins; Chocolate chips; Breakfast cereals; Seeds, such as sunflower seeds; Granola; Carob chips; Shredded coconut and Pretzels.
  • Indian Namkeen Mixture - Ready to Eat Namkeens are an Indian specialty and are very popular for its taste. Few example of these for of snack will consist of Aloo Bhujia (Pudina flavour), Moong Dal, Neembu Sev, Khatta Meetha, Jaipuri Mix, Navratan Mix, Chana Dal and Mast Kaju Mix. There is a huge demand for Indian snack food (Ready-To-eat) in overseas markets. The exports market is estimated at US$ 33.4 million and is growing at around 20 per cent annually.

 

Sweet Snacks
The acceleration of consumer lifestyles has underpinned a growing demand for convenient products across all areas of the global processed snack food market. Trends towards informal consumption habits have clearly benefited sweet and savoury snacks. Researchers have found that eating or drinking sweets may decrease the production of the stress-related hormone glucocorticoid--which has been linked to obesity and decreased immune response. Owing to this there has been been an upsurge in demand for sweet snack items.

While salty snacks have seen a surge in innovative and robust flavors, sweet snacks have taken a turn toward health. For all those who resolve to eat a nutritious breakfast but crave something sweet in the morning, have a wide range choice in the form of breakfast

cereals easily available in the market. As consumers continue to focus on convenience, nutrition and taste, the snack bar category will continue to drive growth in the total snacks category. This category is being driven by the consumer’s desire for new flavors, textures and tastes.
 

Sweet Snacks fall into four major categories: candy, baked goods, chocolates and frozen sweets.

  • Candy - candy usually refers to sugar candy. It is confection made from a concentrated solution of sugar dissolved in milk/water, to form a syrup, to which a variety of flavorings and colorants is added. It is sometimes frozen (as in an ice pop). Candy comes in an endless variety of textures from soft and chewy to hard and brittle. Caramel, toffee, fudge, praline, tablet, gumdrops, jelly beans, rock candy, lollipops, taffy, cotton candy, candy canes, peppermint sticks, peanut brittle, chocolate coated raisins or peanuts, hard candy (called boiled sweets in British English) and candy bars are just a few examples of the confections that are sold under the generic name candy.
  • Baked Sweet - These are generally made from ingredients such as flour, butter, shortening, baking powder or eggs. A baked confection usually a pastry whose dough is rich in butter, which was dispersed through the pastry prior to baking, resulting in a light, flaky texture. Some of the main types of pastry dough are Shortcrust, Sweet Crust, Phyllo (filo), Flaky Pastry, Puff Pastry and Choux Pastry. High value sales of pastries are based on a long tradition of pastry consumption in the country and a high rate of product innovation, which is proving to be a key means of maintaining consumer interest. Across Asia Pacific, the prospects for pastries are good, with new product developments, economic growth and strong demand for semi-premium varieties in urban areas driving growth.
  • Chocolate - Chocolate is a variety of processed foods that are produced from the seed of the tropical cacao tree. The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the chocolate flavor. After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground and liquefied, resulting in pure chocolate in fluid form: chocolate liquor. The liquor can be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Pure, unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Most of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining chocolate with sugar.
  • Ice cream or ice-cream - Ice cream is a frozen dessert made from milk and cream, combined with flavorings and sweeteners, such as sugar, and possible other ingredients. This mixture is stirred slowly while cooling to prevent large ice crystals from forming; the result is a smoothly textured ice creams.
 

Future Prospects for Snack Food Industry
The spread of western eating habits around the world continues as lifestyles in those parts become busier and traditional meal times become a thing of past. As a result there would be an increase in the demand for snack food.

Reemergence of Fruit Snack Items
Snacking has become a way of life. We love our cookies, Twinkies and peanuts. Food manufacturers have carried the snacking craze to the maximum with snack pack pudding; snack size candy bars and even cheese/cracker snack size portions. The market continues to sky-rocket. Unfortunately a significant proportion of the snack foods have limited nutritional value.

Fruit has traditionally been eaten as a snack, but market development has been held back by the perceived inconvenience of fresh fruit products, which may need peeling or other preparation, can be difficult to transport, and often have to be consumed in their entirety once started. However, growing demand for healthier snacking items has led manufacturers to reassess the fruit sector and a new generation of fruit products aimed specifically at the snacking market have started to appear. In addition, existing fruit products are being repackaged or repositioned to make them suitable for snacking.

 
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