By The FoodBowl chief executive Alexandra Allan




It has never been an easy challenge to get children to eat their greens or pulses, sneaking them into readymade dishes is a classic parent’s secret. Things have got a whole lot easier as the market is exploding with snacks that are delicious, nutritious and most of all children are loving them.

A rise in health consciousness, due to our sedentary lifestyle, has propelled the demand for healthy baked snacks. Couple this with frantic parents, and everyone is looking for snacks that are trans-fat free, have less salt, plus are gluten-free. This is creating lucrative opportunities for existing and new players to the category, but achieving the right balance between taste, health, and price is likely to be a key challenge for New Zealand producers.

Snacking has become the new way to eat for many people who are snacking between meals to satisfy hunger, nutrition, and those indulgent cravings. Consumers are diverse in age and are demanding easy convenient small pack sizes, allowing them to fit into lunch boxes or briefcase, so they are available to eat on the go.  Consumers want it all, fun and functional, whilst at a reasonable price. According to Mintel’s 2019 “Snacking Motivations and Attitudes” report producers must recognise preferential differences among generations when it comes to specific product attributes and ensure targeted messaging and the correct pack size are developed when marketing to these age groups.

A great New Zealand success stories are Taranaki farmers, Kate and Hamish Dunlop, who are now growing, processing and selling a small but growing range of award-winning quinoa-based products. The latest of these is Natural Quinoa Puffs, an extruded snack product developed at the FoodPilot, at Massey University. Our expert technologists refined the product recipes and processing methods. A range of ingredients such as pumpkin and broad bean flours were formulated with the quinoa to address not just those underlying earthy, bitter notes they were struggling with but also to achieve a better texture and structure to the extruded snacks so that children would eat them.

Dunedin-based Harraways also previously approached FoodSouth to help them create a new extruded Oat snack product, baked not fried, vegan friendly and with no artificial colours or flavours. They used the FoodSouth’s extrusion and drying capability and we were able to formulate a recipe using Harraways oat flour and extrude and air bake the product into light, crunchy oat bites. Harraways then coated them in a range of delicious flavours to appeal to consumers.

You may be familiar with other New Zealand success stories such as Annie’s Fruit Leathers from Blenheim, as early adopters in this category both here and overseas they soon became mainstream in school lunchboxes and snacks for children on the run, joined in recent years by Proper Crisps, Vegetable, Kumara and Parsnip Chips and Calabee Harvest Pea Puffs collection, as consumers are looking for healthy alternatives to fried potato chips.

The opportunities in this market are still endless so feel free to contact Alasdair Baxter at [email protected] to discuss your project and visit our website for more details, webinars, and blogs to help you on this journey.  www.foodinnovationnetwork.co.nz/

Alexandra Allan is the Chief Executive for The FoodBowl – an open access facility operated by NZ Food Innovation Auckland and part of the NZ Food Innovation Network. She has experience in managing client projects as well as oversight on plant operations previously as the Client Solutions Manager for The FoodBowl. Prior to that, Allan has held senior positions at Danone and Horley’s in product development.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology or the parent company, Hayley Media.