A millennial’s day might go something like this:
Wake up. Social networking. Workout. Go to work. Get together with friends. Grab a bite to eat. Watch TV. Go to bed. Social networking.
Although individual priorities vary, busy schedules and fast-paced living often leave cooking near the bottom of the list. This makes convenience key when trying to appeal to this generation of appetites.
Convenience equals quick, easy, and transportable, positioning snacks as the perfect solution. But it can’t be just any snack. Millennial consumers are looking for snacks that meet specific standards.
Snacking: No longer an either/or dilemma
Historically, consumers have been forced to take an either/or approach to snacking. They had to choose either healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables or packaged snacks like chips, crackers or granola bars. Either health or convenience. Sometimes, either health or satisfaction.
This is no longer the case. Alternatives have arisen and given way to a new approach to snacking. We have now entered the era of the better-for-you snack.
In response to consumer demand, snack companies offer healthier snacks in convenient packaging. Better-for-you snacks span a variety of snack categories, from chips and crackers to protein packs – all in convenient, on-the-go packaging.
A recent study performed by Amplify Snack Brands and The Center for Generational Kinetics has found that millennials (ages 18-34) are generating the most demand in the better-for-you snack category. In fact, 89% of millennials eat a better-for-you snack at least once a week. The study cited other important demographics, including millennial and Gen X moms (ages 35-50), who are likely to feed their children better-for-you snacks.
A variety of factors determine whether or not consumers consider a snack better-for-you. Millennials look for simple, understandable ingredient lists, responsible sourcing, organic, no added or artificial sweeteners, and gluten-free – among other standards.
Millennials are no longer forced to choose between health and convenience, so don’t ask them to. Snack brands that innovate to offer both benefits are finding success in the marketplace.
The drum-dried solution
As millennials have indicated, the foundation for a better-for-you snack is its ingredient list. Ideal ingredients in the better-for-you category are understandable. They add real nutrition. They’re appealing.
Drum-drying is a process that converts fruit, vegetable, bean and grain products into flexible formats that perform various functions in food products – flavor, color, and consistency being a few. The method efficiently and economically produces real fruit and vegetable ingredients consumers can feel good about eating.
What does this process look like? And how can it solve your better-for-you snack needs?
The drum-drying process
Drum-drying, like all dehydrating processes, removes moisture from produce. Fresh or frozen produce runs through several grinding steps, first chopping up the material and then pureeing it down to a liquid or slurry. Unwanted seeds, pits, or cores are removed, ensuring a pure and smooth consistency.
The liquid material is transported to the dryer – two, counter-rotating drums set at a low heat. The liquid is poured over the drums, and as they rotate, the product slowly dries into a thin sheet. Sheets of product are ground into a range of flake and powder sizes.
Drum-dried ingredients carry 5 specific snack-worthy benefits, making them an ideal solution to your better-for-you needs.
Benefit 1: Whole food
Drum-dried ingredients can be made out of whole foods like fruits, vegetables and beans, and they maintain many of the nutritional benefits of those fresh foods. Better-for-you snack consumers will be drawn to packages claiming real fruits and vegetables, rather than artificial flavorings or colors.
Drum-dried product keeps the vibrant color of the original product, representing real, whole food to consumer senses.
Benefit 2: Gluten-Free
According to Amplify’s study, Millennials look for gluten-free better-for-you snacks. Most drum-dried products are naturally gluten-free, and can be tested for verification. With an increasing number of gluten-free and celiac consumers, gluten-free may be the key ingredient to the success of your better-for-you snack.
According to Beyond Celiac, an estimated 1% of the American population suffers from celiac disease. Although many remain undiagnosed, awareness continues to rise, and will continue to generate more demand for gluten-free snacks.
Benefit 3: Flavor
Flavor makes the difference between good and great in the snacking world. This also rings true for better-for-you snacks. Drum-dried flakes and powders give a better-for-you snack the flavors of real fruits or vegetables.
Most drum-dried products go through a cook step, drawing out flavors in the finished product reminiscent of cooked produce rather than raw. This can add a new flavor profile to packaged snacks that are ready to eat right out of the box.
Benefit 4: Customizable
Developing new and innovative products can pose a challenge. Blending different raw materials can achieve flavors completely unique to your brand or product. Or, you can match an on-trend flavor with your own customized formulation.
Drum-dried products can also be customizable to a clean label standard, appealing to better-for-you consumers who don’t want to see added ingredients on their labels.
Benefit 5: Convenient
The drum-drying process works quickly, producing ingredients efficiently and economically. Once ready to apply, the flake and powder formats make them easy to use. They are cold water dispersible and mix well in a variety of applications.
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