A Wealth Of Health
By Deborah Cassell

Whole grains, trans fat and heart health were among the hot topics at the Snack Food Association’s recent Pretzel and Baked Snacks Seminar in Baltimore.
Heart health. Whole grains. Reduced sodium. Trans fat-free formulations. Future flavor combinations. Snack Food Association members gained a wealth of information on these subjects and many more during the SFA’s Pretzel and Baked Snacks Seminar, held Nov. 9-10 in Baltimore.
The event kicked off with an afternoon tour of the local Domino Foods, Inc. plant, followed by an evening reception at the city’s nearby Museum of Industry, which showcased the history of baking, among other industries, in Baltimore.
The next day, SFA Pretzel and Baked Snacks Committee Chairman Phil Bernas of Herr Foods, Inc. welcomed attendees and introduced speakers, who addressed everything from energy solutions to new seasonings.
Sally Lyons Wyatt, senior vice president, Information Resources, Inc. led the morning session with statistics showing the growth of healthy snacks, especially those in portion-control and on-the-go packages, and an explanation of what’s driving the trend.
“Healthier is outpacing indulgent,” Wyatt noted. She added that the pretzel and baked snacks segments have had double-digit growth over the last year, thanks to the popularity of baked potato chips, pretzels and rice/popcorn cakes, among other items.
Next, Anne Giesecke, president of A&D Policy Analysis, Inc., and Brian Strouts, head of experimental baking for the American Institute of Baking, took turns exploring baked snacks technology. Giesecke focused on the effects of electricity, natural gas, water and diesel costs on the industry.
Just what impacts high fuel prices?
“Wars and weather,” Giesecke stated. The government is another factor, she added.
Meanwhile, Strouts addressed technical issues surrounding the reduction of trans fat, the inclusion of whole grains, extending the shelf-life of an item and product innovation.
K Consulting president Lisa Katic wrapped up the a.m. with discussion of what’s making today’s headlines in the snack food industry. Increased organic introductions, revised dietary guidelines, Food and Drug Administration concerns over sodium, new food labeling/health claims and childhood obesity concerns led the list.
Attendees met with table top exhibitors during the lunch hour. Participants displaying information on their latest ingredients and equipment included Kliklok-Woodman; the California Raisin Marketing Board; Land O’Lakes Ingredient Solutions; BluePrint Automation, Inc.; The Lanley Co.; Heat and Control, Inc.; and Videojet Technologies.
Panelists dominated the afternoon session, starting with an update on current oven systems and ending with a discussion of sugar and spice and everything nice … including salt. Attendees also received an update on whole grains from ConAgra Foods representatives. And back by popular demand, Koushik Seethyaraman of Cibus Consulting, Inc., talked about components and their impact on baked product quality.
All in all, seminar attendees came away from this year’s Pretzel and Baked Snacks Seminar with an enriched sense of what’s happening in the category and where it’s going. For information on future, equally educational SFA events, contact Liz Wells at 1-703-836-8262.