Analyst Opinion by Cathy Boyle - Contributing Analyst
The face of the global snack foods market is changing, with demand for
more natural and healthy options generating significant diversification
in product formulations. For example, baked snacks are taking over from
fried products, while manufacturers are also looking for alternatives to
the core potato or corn ingredients that have long dominated the
category. This is placing pressure on ingredients companies to deliver
new options for snacks formulators, with a strong focus on naturalness.
Bean-based flours and powders are in favour
Alternative flours are benefiting the most from this trend, with rice
flour finding favour as a key ingredient in many new-generation snack
formats. Most recently, however, attention has also been turning to
beans and pulses, with the emergence of a number of new brands featuring
bean-based flours or powders as their base ingredients.
This trend has been most prevalent in the US, which continues to lead
the way in snacks innovation. For example, in 2012, Mediterranean Snack
Foods launched Hummuz snacks based on garbanzo bean flour, corn flour
and potato starch, while Enjoy Life introduced a range of Plentils
snacks based on lentil powder and potato starch. More recently,
LesserEvil has launched Chia Crisps, which use black bean powder and
rice flour as the core ingredients as well as adding chia seeds for a
stronger health positioning.
Demand for alternative flours is certainly outpacing that of more
traditional wheat flours throughout the food and drinks industry, and in
sweet and savoury snacks applications, ‘other flours’ are forecast to
grow at a CAGR of 4.3% between 2012 and 2017, which is almost four times
faster than wheat flours. It is perhaps more useful, though, to compare
the performance of these flours with the commodity ingredients that are
most widely used in the snacks market and here too ‘other flours’ come
out ahead, increasing at a forecast rate that is one or two percentage
points ahead of cereals (3.2%) and potatoes (2.5%).