For Rob Sarlls, president and chief executive officer of Wyandot Foods, ingredients are an ongoing concern for producing a variety of better-for-you snacks, especially when it comes to choosing the right equipment.

“It needs to handle well with different ingredients, particularly some of the non-traditional snack ingredients such as ancient grains and certain starches,” he said. “It needs to withstand the pressure and heat that’s required to produce something that actually tastes good and holds the consistency and flavor.”

At Wyandot, that magic combination starts with a highly experienced R.&D. team, a dedicated staff and great relationships with suppliers. Often, getting the right combination of these begins with flexibility.

Clextral employs product testing on its extruder lines for snack makers looking to incorporate heathier products into a more traditional portfolio.

“We may reconfigure the screw profile of the extruder and adjust temperature, shear, cooking time and moisture content to create the desired product,” said Jose Coelho, president, Clextral USA.

Ingredients like fiber syrups and protein powders can pose production challenges for snacks, said John Kirkpatrick, bakery specialist, Reiser.

“They can cause very dense, stiff products,” he said, noting that the torque on Reiser’s Vemag aids in accurate portioning and shaping of snacks made with hard-to-handle ingredients.

On the flipside, vegetable flours make doughs that can be softer or less resilient, so Reiser offers multiple feeding and cutoff options for single or multiple lanes of production, and Vemag’s positive displacement double-screw pump can gently transport dough for products like bars without smearing or crushing large or delicate inclusions.

To ensure ease of production, Lance Aasness, executive vice-president, Hinds-Bock, suggested that these kinds of snacks, which are by nature typically harder to create, require testing to ensure the machinability. Testing can happen either during the R.&D. phase or before purchasing a specific piece of machinery.

“When processing ingredients with equipment for high-volume production, end products that may contain whole grain flours or inclusions such as seeds, nut oils or agave syrup or functional ingredients like chicory root should always be tested first to account for any discrepancies,” he said.

Heat and Control also engages testing to better understand the specific processing requirements of healthy snacks.

“We conduct evaluations in a variety of areas, including frying and cooling tests, analysis of oil and incoming moisture content, fry time, sinking versus floating frying characteristics, fines removal and turnover rate,” said Don Giles, director of sales, processing systems, Heat and Control. “We look at any factor that requires scrutiny.”

Mr. Coelho noted that if production is not operating at full capacity, there’s an opportunity to incorporate better-for-you options onto a current Clextral line.

“Ancillary equipment may be required for different products, and Clextral has addressed this with the development of ‘clip on’ modules that provide functionality to create specific product attributes such as custom shapes, special textures for multi-textured products and filled products to provide increased versatility to the extrusion operation,” he said.

This article is an excerpt from the March 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on snack technology, click here.