Mondelez International free-from unit Enjoy Life Foods is to launch a series of products this year that centre on two areas – functionality and on-the-go.
The US business, which Mondelez acquired last year, will roll out a number of new lines in 2016, with the first set to hit the market in March.
“We’re not providing the details just yet but the first product will be an on-the-go protein snack that will come in a variety of pack sizes that will be convenient for grab and go,” Joel Warady, Enjoy Life’s chief sales and marketing officer, told just-food.
Warady was coy about providing too many details of the foods to be released by Enjoy Life this year but outlined the thinking behind the company’s product development strategy.
“We have a lot of new products that we’re launching and they’re going to carry a common theme, which is more functionality – specific things like protein and probiotics and antioxidants,” he said. “In the gluten-free, allergy-friendly category specifically, people have health issues. Many of our target consumers are eating our products because they’re trying to find a solution through the foods that they eat. They’re involved in an elimination diet. They’re taking things out of their daily diet. When you do that, part of what they’re losing is some important functional aspects, like protein or things that can benefit gut health. What we’re trying to do, in a natural manner, is to put that functionality back in. We’re not using any artificial ingredients to do it. We’re using natural proteins, plant-based proteins and probiotics to put that functionality back in.”
Much of Enjoy Life’s portfolio is made up with snack products but the company is looking to further expand that part of its range. US consumers, Warady said, were looking for healthier snacks during specific parts of the day. “Some of the changes are going to be some of the pack sizes are going to be even more convenient for grab and go, to eat throughout the day. That’s a result of some of the research that we’ve done, along with some other groups, that is showing specific in our category pain points being about 10:30 in the morning for a healthy snack, about 2:30 in the afternoon and again 9:30 in the evening.”
Parts of the free-from market have come under some scrutiny, with questions over the nutritional content in some foods. There has been criticism about the high levels of sugar, salt and fat in some free-from lines. Warady said Enjoy Life would be looking to change the recipes for some of its existing lines.
“Part of the resources we’ve been to get from the acquisition is the resources to do a much better job on innovation and renovation,” he said. “You will see some reductions in sugars in some of our products. Fat, I’m not certain that that’s necessarily going to be a focus but removing some other things from our products as well. We look at ingredients that are in some of our products that our target consumers would prefer that we not have like xanthan gum and how do we take that out and still maintain the integrity of the product. We’re also looking at the reduction of sodium as well in some of our products.”