Developing extruded foods, including whole grain snacks, can be a complex process. Formulators often rely on the expertise of food scientists and engineers in test-plant settings to test and develop products that meet consumer expectations. Test plants streamline the product development process,
ensuring marketable products are produced within desired timelines. Research and development centers can supply limited-run products for market evaluation or test marketing, catering to the ever-growing demand for healthy foods that offer freshness, flavor, and variety.

The role of extrusion in whole grain snacks in schools

The importance of whole grain snacks in schools has gained recognition, leading to new regulations to promote healthier options. The US Department of Agriculture published an interim final rule requiring that grain products sold in schools contain 50% or more whole grains by weight. This development opens up opportunities for manufacturers to create whole grain snacks that meet the nutritional requirements of educational institutions, providing students with healthier snack choices.

Innovations in whole grain snack formulations

Formulators continue to innovate in the creation of whole grain snacks that offer visual appeal, enticing textures, and delicious flavors. Texture can be enhanced through the use of small particle sizes of ancient grains like amaranth or the use of extrusion to create puffs. Flavor profiles can be
improved through the addition of spices, seasonings, or unique combinations. For example, a snack from Mexico called alegria combines amaranth with honey, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. Blending different whole grains can introduce a variety of colors, flavors, and textures, enhancing the overall
appeal of the snack. Moreover, these blends contribute to the healthy image of the ingredient list, providing consumers with diverse and nutritious options.

The future of whole grain snacks and extrusion technology

Extrusion technology continues to advance, offering processors the processing power and flexibility needed to meet the demand for a wide range of whole grain snacks. With improvements in die-flow design and new-generation twin-screw extruders, higher throughputs are available on smaller
extruders, optimizing investment and operating costs. The ability to incorporate higher percentages of whole grains and fiber into products has greatly improved their consumer appeal, making extrusion an indispensable tool for the food industry.

Extrusion technology continues to advance, offering processors the processing power and flexibility needed to meet the demand for a wide range of whole grain snacks. With improvements in die-flow design and new-generation twin-screw extruders, higher throughputs are available on smaller extruders, optimizing investment and operating costs. The ability to incorporate higher percentages of whole grains and fiber into products has greatly improved their consumer appeal, making extrusion an indispensable tool for the food industry.

For relevant conferences and workshops regarding food & feed extrusion, visit www.ExtruAfrica.org.za. The next available course is taking place in August 2023, in Kenya. This course will focus on the applications of extrusion for developing countries. It is focused on technical and practical applications of extrusion and presented by international industry expert, Prof Mian Riaz from Texas A&M University.