Healthy snacking has been capitalised on by many new companies, and alternative snacking is now an established option. This is an indication that consumers can move away from established ways of snacking.
‘Popped’ and ‘baked’ snacks, in particular, are just some of the alternatives that have become popular. Lotus seeds and chickpeas can be used as the main base ingredients for these products – which also nod to their regional influences.
FoodBev Media’s Harriet Jachec spoke with two founders of alternative snacking brands. Akhil Kumar is the founder of Guruji, which are popped lotus seeds, and Poorvi Patodia is the founder and CEO of Biena Snacks, which offers a range of baked chickpea puffs.
Alternative snacks are often attributed names which link to their origins. ‘Gurujis’, for example, are spiritual leaders from India, Kumar says.
“I grew up eating the seeds and knowing about their notable health credentials, and they were also the perfect replacement to snacking on nuts due to my allergies.
“Another nod to my and the product’s Indian heritage is the ‘Gyan Mudra’, the hand on the front of the pack which is a symbol of physical and mental wellbeing. Not only do we want people to eat a great tasting snack, we want them to feel healthier.”
This link to health goes beyond branding – lotus seeds can often bring the benefit of incorporating clean label ingredients into their formulations.
“Consumers are striving to be more mindful snackers and increasingly make more ‘considered’ purchases,” Kumar continued.
“There is a drive towards natural, free-from, clean label products, however, taste is still the most important attribute to consumers when it comes to snacking. Popped lotus seeds tick all of these boxes.”
Patodia concurs, noting how health-conscious millennial consumers may reach for alternative snacks: “There’s a growing momentum in the snacking industry overall to answer consumer demand for healthier snack options. Snack-hungry millennials are buying products like chickpea snacks because they generally prefer clean, simple ingredients.
“Chickpeas are also naturally gluten-free, low in sugar, and high in protein and fiber, which helps keep you fuller, longer.”
Lotus seeds and chickpeas are also good plant-based alternatives for consumers who seek a way to incorporate protein into their diets when staying away from dairy- or animal-based protein products.
“Consumer interest in protein-rich diets and clean eating is growing. People are getting smart about snacking,” Patodia added.
The attraction to alternative snacks such as lotus seeds and chickpeas also comes from the sustainability movement. Consumers such as flexitarians and vegans may seek alternative snacking options not only for diet-related purposes, but to also practice environmentally-friendly diet habits.
Kumar noted: “Lotus seeds are also sustainable which is an increasingly important factor for today’s consumer. Our seeds are hand-farmed; no machinery is used in the process of making their puff texture meaning the product is not extruded. In addition, they are grown using natural water supplies.
“Extrusion is a manufacturing process that ensures the uniformity of puff snacks. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s a manufacturing process nonetheless.
“’Non-extruded’ could eventually become a category of its own, just like ‘extruded’, ‘free from’ or ‘dairy free’ are today, but this would certainly take some time.
“Moving away from manufacturing processes like extrusion reflects consumer behaviours and demand.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019