Snacking is a great American pastime, and statistics show that few of us can resist the salty taste of pretzels. Cargill is demonstrating how easy it is to boost the nutrition profile of this and other popular snack foods by adding Oliggo-Fiber® inulin, the invisible fiber derived from chicory root.
Snacking today is less about consuming empty calories and more about indulging in healthy mini-meals. In addition, consumers report that it’s challenging to eat right, and 53 percent say they want more fiber in their foods and beverages.
“This type of innovation is essential if you want to grab consumers’ attention, because people are drawn to real food that is both tasty and a good source of fiber,” explains Deborah Schulz, product manager, Cargill Health & Nutrition. “Pretzels have such mass appeal, and are on the rise as a snack item. They also are very versatile because you can dip, coat, shape or add flavor to them. When we developed our prototype pretzels that combine great taste and nutrition in each crunchy bite, we knew we were on to something important.”
In addition to its Pretzels with Fiber prototypes, Cargill has also developed Pretzels with Fiber & Protein, and Pretzel Bits with Fiber & Protein. These pretzel prototypes demonstrate how Oliggo-Fiber® inulin can be incorporated – invisibly and easily – into everyday foods with very little impact on a product’s taste, functionality or appearance.
“These prototype pretzels scored similarly to commercial pretzels in our sensory testing,” said Schulz. “Within a week of sharing them with our customers, we received serious inquiries from food formulators, validating that this is an appealing concept.”
There’s a lot of room in the snack category for products that provide fiber. “Consumers want something they can pop in their mouths, not just bars,” says Schulz. “Oliggo-Fiber® inulin also offers some unique benefits beyond those traditionally associated with fiber. For example, research shows inulin can help enhance calcium absorption among pre-teens and post-menopausal women. As a prebiotic, it also helps to maintain digestive balance.”
Because Oliggo-Fiber® inulin is available in liquid as well as powder form, it can potentially be used in any snacks that can be dipped, coated or extruded. That translates into virtually any snack application.
“The inventive opportunities are as exciting as they are easy,” said Betsy Jones, research scientist, Cargill Health & Nutrition. “The liquid can be used as binding syrup for popcorn, for example, to coat it and make clusters. The pretzel pieces are little bursts of creativity because they can easily be used as nuggets in bars, clusters or snack mixes. We also created a chocolate pretzel prototype made with sweet dough extruded into a pretzel shape.”
Cargill is at the forefront of innovation, and innovation with its Oliggo-Fiber® inulin is no exception. “We supply premium ingredients then take it to the next level by partnering with food formulators to develop better-for-you products that have irresistible consumer appeal,” said Schulz.