Snacking is being redefined. Once it meant a bag of crisps, or perhaps a couple of biscuits or cookies, confectionery or a piece of fruit – a top-up between meals.
Many now regard this style of eating between – or even instead of – meals as an integral part of their diet, evaluated as part of their overall daily intake. Inevitably the choice of foods has expanded and, amongst others, now includes cereals and granola. Once categorised only as ‘breakfast cereals’ these are now marketed and regarded as anytime foods: convenient with minimal preparation, and nutritious. As such they are ripe for evolution.
Baker Perkins equipment making a full range of cereal and granola products can be adapted to make the products that match today’s trends – with the potential for exciting new concepts.
Ready-to-eat cereals and granola can be produced in low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar formats with the option of being high in protein and fibre, or gluten free. The list of cereal options is expanding – for example, pea, soy and lentil proteins are available as vegan alternatives to whey. Cereals and granola meet all the criteria for ‘healthy’ foods, and for the expanding vegetarian and vegan sectors.
Granola production is inherently flexible because the product is customised by adding ingredients at the end of the process.
Granola cereal can be exploited with a variety of savoury flavours such as cheese, tomato, curry, fish sauce, chilli and pâté. Think of a light lunch consisting of vegetables and a savoury granola; or guacamole, hummus or dip given a completely new texture with the addition of savoury granola.
There are also opportunities for sweet granola – sprinkled on a yoghurt or cheesecake, for example.
Innovative extrusion processes
Cereal systems are equally flexible, and the extrusion process is perhaps the most accommodating in the food industry. Many companies choose co-extruded cereal pillows to add value by incorporating a centre-filling within the cereal outer. With texture, filling and shape all controlled, there is extensive potential for product innovation.
A new opportunity, with the merit of sustainability, uses spent grain from the brewing industry, available in abundance and currently used for animal feed.
Cereal bar prospects
There are great prospects for growth in the cereal bar market. Baker Perkins’ TruClean™ wirecut allows filled cereal bars to be produced with an unlimited variety of sweet and savoury fillings, including low fat options.
There is an extensive choice of shapes, profiles, fillings and toppings that provide a welcome relief to the conventional brick shaped bar. The process also accommodates ingredients with recognized health benefits such as whole grains, nuts, fruit pieces, low-carb crispy pieces, fibre, soy, and whey protein.
Innovation Centres in the UK and USA
Baker Perkins has an impressive track record in fortifying cereals and granola, using systems capable of producing a multiplicity of products, with inbuilt adaptability when tastes alter.
Crucially, our Innovation Centres in the UK and USA offer environments where concepts can be turned into commercially viable products. In these facilities customers develop new products and processes, produce samples for test marketing, and conduct feasibility trials.
Companies from every part of the world find that thorough trials, often using their own raw materials, provide a reliable basis for trouble-free commissioning of a new plant or launch of a new line.