Cookie & Cracker Trends: Balancing Taste and Health


There’s no question that today’s consumers are seeking out healthier, more natural foods. From dressings and dips to desserts, it’s hard to walk the grocery aisles without being bombarded with labels and callouts claiming healthier, more natural options. 

In fact, minimally processed foods are among the top drivers in consumer preferences, with “all-natural” being the #1 sought-after health claim. Other popular health claims include low sugar, preservative-free, reduced calorie and high protein.

Even traditionally sweet and salty foods, like cookies and crackers, are getting a healthy overhaul, but making these sweet and salty snacks healthier isn’t exactly easy for manufacturers.

Nutrition Isn’t Enough

While fitness enthusiasts might find fat-free or sugar-free cookies and crackers appealing to help them reach their health goals, they’d be hard-pressed to admit that they find their taste appealing, especially when compared to their original, full-fat recipe. Most consumers still want their indulgent snacks to be just that: indulging. They’re certainly open to the introduction of healthier, more natural ingredients but, overall, they want their sweet and salty snack foods to taste great.

Many snack and bakery manufacturers have created better-for-you cookie and cracker products by eliminating artificial ingredients and replacing them with healthier, more natural options. Some in the food industry have already taken steps to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from their products and have set the tone for competitors in the industry. Producers have also released high-protein cookies in response to consumer demands for high-protein snacks and to align with the latest diet trends.

As big names in the cookie and cracker category reformulate their products to be healthier and more natural, other manufacturers need to keep pace and offer snacks that can be indulgent without leaving consumers feeling guilty. Some major brands are taking note of smaller manufacturers that are producing wholesome, artisan-inspired products that boast a “less-is-more” mantra, listing fewer ingredients and smaller batches to maintain freshness and shelf life.

Other claims that consumers look for may include ethical sourcing, environmental sustainability, ingredient transparency and traceability, and more. And, while food safety has been an expectation for consumers in the past, it has risen in the ranks as one of the most important factors in light of recent events.

The Challenge of Maintaining Flavor & Functionality

Many food formulators have found it challenging to revamp their baked goods and snack products using healthier ingredients without compromising texture or flavor. Simple food chemistry makes it difficult to replace some emulsifiers that now fall on the no-no ingredient list when it comes to clean labels. Some alternatives can’t maintain the desired volume, texture and crumb structure, especially when introduced into a high-shear environment. 

While consumers appreciate the increased shelf life that some questionable emulsifiers and preservatives offer, they prefer natural ingredients that can offer similar benefits without the health or environmental concerns.

Why Consider All-Natural Whey Protein?

Food manufacturers can create healthier, more natural snacks—without sacrificing product quality—by using whey protein as a replacement for high-fat and artificial ingredients and emulsifiers. Whey protein is an all-natural, clean-tasting, versatile ingredient with many functional benefits for consumers of all ages, making it the perfect replacement for a long list of applications.

At Grande Custom Ingredients Group, we offer a variety of natural whey protein products that feature an impressive shelf life and sustainable chain of custody. It can be used to improve nutrition in your cookie and cracker applications, while also maintaining the same great flavor, texture, and appearance as the original formulation, all at a cost-savings over most other natural alternative ingredients. 

Grande WPCrisp® Whey Protein Crisps

For food manufacturers looking to add a protein boost and crunchy texture to their cookies, crackers, snack mixes and other applications, Grande WPCrisp is an ideal solution. Our patented production process ensures that our whey protein crisps are made to the highest level of food safety and quality, and these versatile crisps can be used as a replacement for or in combination with any soy, corn or rice crisps. Available in 60-70% protein levels, our 60% protein formulation is even available in natural dark cocoa. 

Grande Bravo® Functional Whey Protein

Looking to create a formulation of your bakery products and desserts that’s lower in fat or ingredient costs? What about a high-quality, safe replacement for eggs? Grande Bravo functional whey proteins are the perfect replacement for high-fat and high-cost ingredients like eggs, butter, heavy cream, milk, and cream cheese. It can even help you remove the egg allergen from your label. 

Cookies and crackers are some of the most popular snack options for both kids and adults these days, and shoppers everywhere are looking for the best combination of taste and nutrition. Contact our expert food scientists to learn more about how whey protein can benefit your specific application.

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