Low-fat snacking

by Jeff Gelski
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Use gums and fiber to reduce fat in such items as snack cakes and dips.

Companies seeking to differentiate their pro-ducts in the growing snack category should know low-fat options are possible. For example, ingredients such as gums and citrus fiber may be used in low-fat baked snack foods.

Growth in core snack sales of 2.9% last year outpaced overall consumer packaged goods sales growth of 1.6%, said Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive and general manager, client insights for Information Resources, Inc., during SNAXPO 2014 in Dallas this past March. Overall, 62% of better-for-you snack categories grew in volume sales, she said.

The International Food Information Council Foundation 2014 Food & Health Survey asked people why they consider the fat content of foods and beverages. “Helps maintain a healthy weight” at 68% was the leading answer and was followed by “prevent a future health condition” at 64% and “help reduce the risk of heart disease” at 63%.

Baked foods are an option for low-fat snacks. Forty-one per cent of consumers claim to eat prepared cakes and pies as a snack between meals, according to Mintel, and 46% who eat prepared cakes and pies view them as an indulgence.

“Fat reduction in baked snacks can be challenging, particularly with consumer acceptance,” said Steven Baker, a food scientist for TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md. “Fat has distinctive mouth coating and flavor release attributes, increasing the difficulty of making reduced fat systems acceptable to consumers.”

Gums have been shown to thicken water, provide lubricity and increase mouth coating to baked foods.

“This textural attribute can mimic the eating sensation from fat thereby allowing you to reduce fat content without sacrificing acceptance,” Mr. Baker said.

Multiple contributing factors make one gum blend more beneficial than the other, he said. Case-by-case recommendations from research and development teams are needed.

“Everything from dairy and egg content to inclusions like raisins or chocolate chips need to be taken into account when replacing fat’s functionality with hydrocolloids,” Mr. Baker said.

TIC Gums offers Ticaloid Lite Powder designed to retain moisture and increase shelf life of baked foods high in fiber. Ticaloid LC-SR1 has been shown to retain moisture, increase shelf life and promote uniform air cell distribution. Action Gum 1144 FF has been shown to provide batter consistency and uniform cell distribution.

PenNovo FR from Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo., has been shown to reduce calories, fat and saturated fat. The company recently showed low-fat, reduced-egg, gluten-free carrot cake pops with PenNovo FR. The ingredient statement listed potato starch, rice starch, modified food starch, xanthan gum and gum Arabic.

Penford became more active in gums this year when Penford Corp. acquired Gum Technology Corp., a gum and hydrocolloids blending, services and distribution company.

FiberStar Inc., River Falls, Wis., offers Citri-Fi derived from orange pulp. The company uses a patented mechanical process that opens the fiber structure to create a porous fiber matrix that has high internal surface area. In baked foods, partial replacement of oil and fat with Citri-Fi and added water has been shown to reduce ingredient costs, calories and bake time, according to the company.

FiberStar promotes Citri-Fi for use in dairy, sauces and dressings as well. In those applications, partial replacement of oil with Citri-Fi and added water has been shown to reduce ingredient costs, fat content and calories.

Cargill, Minneapolis, offers CitriTex GSG 71, a fat replacement system designed to replace oils in sweet baked foods. A blend of citrus pulp fiber and other functional components, CitriTex GSG 71 may serve as a thickening agent for food. In muffin and cake applications, tests showed CitriTex GSG 71 provided slightly higher moisture, equal spring and improved shelf life when compared to a control over six days.

Companies also may consider reducing fat in components of the finished product, Mr. Baker said. Snacks may be packaged as a multipart, like crackers and cheese dip or pretzels and honey mustard dip. TIC Gum’s Saladizer products reduce fat and mimic fat’s functionality and mouthfeel in dressings, dips and marinades. TIC Gums used Saladizer FB-50 and Saladizer Max to develop a fat-free honey mustard dip with the textural attributes of a full fat formulation.
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