National Starch has identified a range of different crispy and crunchy textures for crackers and snacks to help food manufacturers meet consumer demand for gourmet, indulgent and healthy products.
The ingredients company's sensory team looked at basic consumer descriptions for baked crackers and fabricated snack chips and translated them into a language that food formulators can use.
The descriptions range from delicate and crispy to bold and crunchy, crunch-snapping and crunchy-shattering. It has also identified an in-between texture that has been coined "Crinchy".
Marc Green, National Starch spokesman told FoodNavigator-USA.com: "If you think about the consumer vernacular for crackers and snacks it is crispy or crunch and nothing else. We have discovered 18 factors that go into crispy and crunchy.
"We can then present to a food formulator actionable and measurable steps they can take to get the texture that consumers would like."
Green said that the cracker and snack market in the US is "flat to down in sales". However value added products are showing "excellent growth" and consumers are looking for products with unique textures or fortifications that are not in the ordinary foods they eat.
Figures from Business Insights show that Americans are choosing "better for you" or "healthy" snacks 57 percent of the time when snacking.
However when formulating a healthier product with reduced fat, texture and taste can be compromised because butter, fats and oils make a large contribution to texture and flavor in crackers and chips.
Suzanne Mutz-Darwell, texture marketing manager for National Starch said: "We have discovered there is no need to compromise on texture or taste to delivers a healthy or wholesome product.
"We can help our customer navigate the texture space and create new differentiated, signature products."
The company show-cased its crackers and snack textures at the 2008 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo in New Orleans this week demonstrating how during the baking procedure structure is set and moisture is driven off to produce the desired texture in these low-moisture products.
The baked cracker prototypes used the Crisp Film, Eliane SC160 and Ultra-Crisp CS snack texturizers to create a range of textures from crispy to crunchy-shattering and crunch-snapping.
The fabricated chip samples used Bakasnak, Ultra Crips CS and Eliane SC 160 to demonstrate Crinchy as well as crispy and crunch textures.