The manufacturer said it overcame formulation challenges associated with the addition of calcium carbonate to baked goods to produce a biscuit that it states contains 37 calories and 30 per cent of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of calcium.
According to the company, the new cookies are certified kosher and are produced without using artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. They are being positioned as a snack food that provides calcium supplementation and relieves occasional heartburn.
Calcium carbonate is widely used as an inexpensive dietary calcium supplement.
“We believe that functional snack foods are the next big thing, and we intend to be a significant player in the space,” said Matthew Siegal, chief executive officer at the company, which has several weight loss brands in its portfolio.
Company founder Sanford Siegal noted that the biggest challenge involved at the product development stage was the difficulty of incorporating a significant percentage of the adult calcium requirement into a 10 gram biscuit without it having a negative impact on taste or texture.
Though calcium carbonate is a gritty and chalky powder, he said that he managed to devise a patent pending formula that produces fortified biscuits with a smooth texture and mouth feel.
Jon Arzberger, product manager at calcium supplier Azelis/S. Black, told this publication that calcium carbonate offers cost advantages over other sources of the mineral in that its high calcium content means manufacturers can fortify foods in lower quantities, with the net effect of the lower usage levels being less impact on texture and flavour attributes.
He said that calcium enrichment of biscuits offers fewer processing hurdles in comparison to that of other baked goods such as bread rolls or muffins in that there is no rising challenges to contend with:
“A biscuit is a dry thin product, which makes the adding of functional ingredients such as dense and soluble calcium less problematic than in the case of breads and cakes, where calcium fortification can often disrupt the bubble formation stage."
Arzberger said that calcium carbonate in micronized form can aid food fortification as the finer particles will ensure better sensory characteristics in the finished products.
He observes that companies have had more positive results with functional food launches when releasing a completely new food product on the market than when reformulating an existing brand such as a chocolate digestive biscuit as consumers will continually compare it to the standard and, in general, find it wanting.
Dairy, bakery and beverages account for 72.9 percent of functional foods in the world’s biggest markets with energy/mood enhancement, gut health and heart health the dominant claims, according to a Leatherhead Food International report.
In 2009 figures, dairy accounted for $8.702bn globally, bakery $5.18bn excluding Japan, and beverages $2.825bn not including energy and mood drinks.
The UK-based organisation said the US and Europe will drive growth in the market from $22.923bn in 2009 to $27.126bn in 2015 - an 18.3 per cent growth rate – but warned health claim regulations in the EU and elsewhere could severely crimp market development.
The future of functional foods depends on a few key points,” Leatherhead observed. “Health claim regulations in Europe are currently under scrutiny and the future of other global regulations will shape the health claims permitted on packaging.”
The analysts argue that credibility is key: “Regulations are likely to become stricter and only health claims with strong scientific backing will be permitted for use or can be endorsed. Consumers are also becoming savvier to the concept of ‘scientifically proven’.”