Snacking has been around about as long as people have been, but today’s snacking trends are moving in a decidedly better-for-you direction. One trend in particular is toward snacks featuring plant-based proteins.
At Chicago-based Enjoy Life Foods, a manufacturer of free-from snacks, (Booth #831 at the recent Natural Products Expo East), that trend is embodied in the company’s new ProBurst Bites, a decadent, brownie like treat that will be available at retail in four varieties. (Progressive Grocer had a chance to sample the SunSeed Butter SKU at the show; the others are Cinnamon Spice, Mango Habanero and Cranberry Orange.). Made with rice protein – as a nut-free manufacturer, Enjoy Life avoids using proteins derived from legumes – Joel Warady, chief marketing and innovation officer, said the snacks aim to meet three eating opportunities: the 10:30 a.m. energy boost, the 2:30 p.m. pick-me-up and the 9:30 p.m. indulgence. The three pieces equal one serving, which provides 6 to 7 grams of protein. Warady was the first to admit, however, that some consumers would devour all three bites as once, rather than spread them throughout the day. He added that although the line was made for anyone to enjoy, men tended to gravitate to the sweet-and-savory Mango Habanero flavor, while kids preferred the sweeter varieties.
Also new from Enjoy Life on the protein-rich snack front are additional flavors of its Plentils lentil snack line: Moroccan Spice and Thai Chili Lime. Warady noted the current popularity of “bolder” regional cuisines, particularly among the much-coveted Millennial demographic. Among these consumers “it’s less about loyalty to brand, and more about flavor,” he observed, pointing to Millennials’ willingness to experiment with new tastes.
As well as its new Que Pasa Nacho Tortilla Chips – a gluten-free, organic, non-GMO snack featuring “one of the first vegan cheeses,” according to Wendy Kubota, director, communications at Richmond, British Columbia-based Nature’s Path (Booth #1828), exhibited high-protein Q’ia Superflakes at the expo. Available in Honey Chia and Cocoa Coconut varieties, the product features sprouted grains, offers 5 to 6 grams of protein per serving and is designed to be eaten as a cereal, although Kubota confided that she often ate it dry as a snack.
In whatever delivery form – chewy or crunchy, sweet, savory, or a hybrid of both – snacks made from plant-based proteins seem set for success.