Meat snacks product development
By Liz Mulvey - 16 August 2016
Snack foods are convenient and enjoyed on the go. Traditionally seen as small portions eaten out with meal times, they may also be incorporated into the main meal, especially lunch, providing opportunities for the meat industry to penetrate this popular sector. Although often bought on impulse, many snacks are bought as a planned purchase and there is a place for both indulgent and healthy options, but key to the success of any new product is understanding and addressing the consumer need.
Health and nutrition related issues are influential drivers; many are consumer driven. Through exposure to health matters by social media and other routes, there is increased health awareness and a growing number of consumers are pursuing healthier lifestyles. High protein diets have surged in popularity, leading to the purchase of high protein meat snacks such as biltong and jerky by gym users. Many people look for snacks that keep them full for longer and associate characteristics such as a savoury flavour or a high protein content with this.
Convenience is important. Key requisites may include whether the snack can be eaten cold, with little or no mess, and user friendly packaging. This format also works for lunch box items. Existing products in a smaller snack size format can create additional sales to consumers wishing to control their calorie or salt intake through portion control or for treats without the waste of leftover food.
For snacks that replace meals, consideration should be the development of a nutritionally balanced snack. Although snacking typically takes place at home, the portability of snacks lends them to be consumed elsewhere, such as in the workplace, during leisure activities, and while travelling.
Just as with any new product, flavour is an important factor in food choice and in this respect meat is a wonderful template on which to build a variety of flavours, ranging from the milder traditional UK ones to more exotic and intense flavours associated with ethnic cuisines. Innovation should remain relevant by selection from the array of seasonings and marinades available. These can be incorporated through simple addition, injection, marinading and tumbling. Meat also lends itself to smoking, which may impart subtle flavours.
Meat products which are ambient stable are particularly suitable for snacking outside the home where refrigerated storage is not available. Products such as biltong (which is preserved by drying), some continental meat products preserved by fermentation (such as salami), and sterilised products such as canned hotdogs fall into this category.
Pack selection should take into account the expected shelf life and storage requirements of the snack and if eaten away from home should lend itself to easy opening and perhaps re-sealability.
Help with the development of meat snack products is available at Campden BRI. We can advise on the formulation, process and best pack options to enable the production of a safe, legally compliant, fit for purpose meat snack product. Trials can be carried out in our process halls.
Snacking is engrained in our lifestyle. By adapting to trends and targeting consumers who are becoming ever more adventurous, opportunities exist for meat snacks that address both the need for healthy snacking and the occasional indulgent treat. Any one for a chocolate flavoured meat snack?