When grading snack choices, consumers tend to assign top marks to products that deliver nutritional benefits over their competitors. Thirty-two percent of shoppers report they are buying more foods based on nutritional components such as fiber and protein vs. last year. according to the “Shopping for Health 2012” report from the Food Marketing Institute and Prevention magazine.

With its new Smart Portions Muffin Tops, Uncle Wally’s Muffins, Shirley, NY, sets a steep curve. Offering 4 g protein and only 1.5 g fat per 110-Cal, 55-g serving, each muffin top provides 30% DV of calcium, 10% vitamin D and 6% iron. The products get their probiotics via GanedenBC30, the trademarked brand of the patented bacteria strain Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086 from Ganeden Biotech, Mayfield Heights, OH.

“We were looking at the competition, and we knew that we needed to find an attribute that was on trend,” said Jerry Ceccio, vice-president, sales and marketing, Uncle Wally’s Muffins. “I had been looking at the yogurt category and seeing how probiotics are growing in the yogurt category. I asked my R&D director to look into if there were any probiotics out there that would withstand the baking cycle, and he came back with Ganeden.”

Unsurprisingly, the target consumers for Smart Portion Muffin Tops are health-conscious people interested in weight management. The packaging calls out excellent sources of calcium and fiber, a good source of vitamin D, and that the muffin tops are baked with flaxseed to provide omega-3s. And the Smart Portion name says it all.

“We take the guess work out,” Mr. Ceccio said. “This muffin tops offer great taste and great health benefits in a portion-controlled way.”

Available throughout the Northeast with an eye to national distribution over the next year, the muffin tops sell for between $3.99 and $4.59 for a 4-pack of individually wrapped 2-oz muffins. Initial flavor offerings include Wild Blueberry, Cranberry Apple and Rich Double Chocolate.

As for future developments, Uncle Wally’s will place its trust in the public. “In social media, there’s going to be a lot of conversation,” Mr. Ceccio said. “We can create a consumer survey on our website and ask which flavors they would like to see, whether it’s a superfruit or any other varieties.”

The company is confident in the growth of the brand even without taking it into a test market. “The category has been in need of a formidable alternative to the current offerings,” Mr. Ceccio said. “We anticipate a very loyal consumer base that will spread the word about Smart Portion Muffin Tops.” And in the classroom, gossip travels fast.