Healthier Choices: Healthy snacks, dry-form plant-based meat, oats for gluten-free diets and more feature in our round-up

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From farm-to-snacks for Asians: Vietnam-based Lecka eyes ASEAN millennials​

Healthier snacks outfit Lecka believes that its all-natural snacks, localised flavours and sustainable packaging will help it attract the attention of millennial consumers across various markets in the South East Asian region.

Based out of Hanoi, Vietnam, Lecka’s first target consumer group is the highly health conscious, and has launched its first product range of energy bars to cater to this group – but Lecka Founder and CEO Markus Gnirck is looking to target a much larger range of consumers with more upcoming products.

“For the very first time, we are seeing fairly coherent consumer segments appearing across the various countries in this region, where tastes and preferences all used to be very specific to specific markets previously,”​ Gnirck told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Ambient ambitions: Could dry-form plant-based meat offer cleaner, more convenient solutions?​

Plant-based meat in a dry, ambient format could provide the alternative protein industry with cleaner and more convenient options that can simultaneously also offer longer shelf-life and stability.

Although the plant-based category has been seeing undisputedly immense growth over the past several years, much of this has been focused on frozen products, with most big plant-based names from Impossible to Beyond to Nestle’s Harvest Gourmet and Tyson’s First Pride all having established firm presence in the frozen plant-based meat market.

Gluten-free goldmine? Boost for oat-based brands as study reveals low likelihood of intolerance​

Food and beverage brands making oat-based products could stand to capitalise from the results of a new Australian study showing significant potential for oats to be included into more diets, including gluten-free.

Oats have long been discounted from the diets of consumers with gluten allergies and intolerances, which has hindered the maximal growth of oat-based products in countries such as Australia where reports have shown about 1.5% of the population have allergies serious enough to be considered coeliac disease, 7% have gluten intolerance, and overall about 25% actively avoid gluten in their diets out of fear of developing intolerance.

New multinational research from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Edith Cowan University (ECU), Sweden’s Lund University, the ScanOats Industrial Research Center and Helmholtz Munich has revealed that oats’ genetic makeup actually gives it a lower probability of triggering food allergy and intolerance in gluten-intolerant consumers.

Spreading wellness: Free-from and flavour localisation driving cross-category spreads growth in APAC​

Firms across the Asia Pacific spreads industry have highlighted free-from ingredient labels and flavour localisation as key growth drivers, regardless of the category of spreads they are in, from nut butter to fruit jams to cheese spreads.

Spreads are a very common staple in the region, particularly as a breakfast and snacking item, and in recent months both large and small firms within this industry have observed that two trends in particular are getting increasingly important for driving growth: The ability to declare their products as being free from undesirable ingredients such as sugars and preservatives; and the offering of localised flavours and ingredients.

Fermentation for ‘hibernation’: Infants more likely to sleep 10+ hours if mothers eat fermented foods during pregnancy​

Infants and toddlers are more likely to sleep 10 hours or more if their mothers consume fermented food when pregnant, according to a Japanese study on 64,200 pairs of mothers and children.

The study showed that fermented food like cheese and miso could reduce the risk of sleep deprivation, but in a limited manner.

“Children need a sufficient amount of good-quality sleep for healthy development. From the neonatal period to infancy and early childhood, sleep patterns change with the child’s development.

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