Snacks like collagen-packed beef popcorn and cereal prawn kale crisps are some of the products that could be on their way to commercial success after winning mentorship under Snack Genius, a new Asian food innovation competition.
Judged on four criterion – originality and creativity; taste and texture; scalability; and health and trends – products for both the savoury and sweet categories were chosen to work with big snack players. The programme will include making taste improvements, while also fine-tuning production to ensure consistency and shelf life.
So what could people be nibbling on in the future?
Collagen beef tendon puffs
The collagen puffs are made from slivers of grass-fed beef tendon, which are dehydrated and popped to a crisp finish in ghee. Coming in two flavours, pink salt or nori (seaweed), they purport to contain zero calories and are part of founder Annaliese Tan’s plan to create a company that produces nutrient-dense foods that maximise calorie intake efficacy.
Sweet and spicy you tiao chips
A modern take on the classic Chinese fried dough stick, the product has been created by two young partners, one of them a fourth-generation hawker who used her grandfather's 70-year-old you tiao recipe.
A mix of sweet, spicy and a hint of sour, the chips are vegetarian, using ingredients like sambal, soy sauce, plum sauce, chilli powder, vinegar and a hint of lemon in the recipe. A slightly sticky coating around a crispy chip, this is a traditional flavour but in a new format, according to the brand.
Nasi lemak popcorn
This product ramps up the salty-sweet combination by combining coconut rice, spicy sambal and dried anchovies with caramel popcorn.
Cereal prawn kale chips
A healthier alternative to potato crisps, these are flavoured with local zichar, a Chinese hawker dish, and come from MasterChef Singapore runner-up Genevieve Lee.
Vegan cheese-flavoured tempeh chips
These are created by organic tempeh producer Angie’s Vegan Pantry,a small family-run business that specialises in plant-based foods.
Computer science undergraduate Sharan Thangavel, 23, got the idea to make this breakfast-friendly snack after a visit to a Thai orphanage, where he was inspired by ingredients like mangoes stocked in the kitchen.
The healthy rice puffs are made with Thai black, brown and white rice with bits of dehydrated mangoes and baked cashews mixed with wild honey. Proceeds from the sales of these treatsgo towards supporting a children's home in Chiang Mai.
This artisanal, Asian-inspired brittle was created by an entrepreneur who wanted a healthier alternative to the traditional nut brittle.
There are three flavours in the Hogula range. Sapid Shichimi is a take on the Japanese seven spice mixture combined with the classic sweetness of gula kelapa, a natural sweet palm extract from the flower bud of a coconut tree that is said to be a healthy replacement for sugar. Unrefined gula is rich in vitamins, minerals and the antioxidants necessary for the formation of healthy cells, according to the brand; it also has a low glycaemic index (GI).
Another brittle is laced with kaffir lime leaves and infused with Himalayan salt, while the third variety is made with pure gula aren, which hails from a palm plantation in Java and brims with a caramel flavour, combined with roasted almonds.
Sea salt pistachio popcorn and maca granola
With crunchy coconut chips, roasted pistachios, toasted brown rice puffs, plus a combination of grains and seeds, this snack is elevated with maca or Peruvian ginseng, which is believed to boost immunity, energy levels and brain function, claims the brand Wild Granola.
Tom yum cashew mango trail mix
Thailand was the inspiration for this tom-yum-flavoured cashew nut snack from Gutsy Foods.
Oats and whole cashews are infused with honey and the juices of galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime and kaffir lime leaves, before being lightly toasted and mixed with rice puffs, coconut chips and dried mango. The result is perfect for reckless snacking on its own or sprinkled on yogurt.
Chocolate chip cookies
Not your usual variety, this one is boosted with ground cricket flour, a protein-rich substitute that also contains high levels of essential amino acids and minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B12.
With its earthy, slightly nutty taste, ground cricket flour melds with the rich taste of chocolate for this snack. Not such a new concept over in the UK, however, with a number of brands experimenting with everything from cricket crackers and tortilla chips, to more meaty items like plant-based bug mince.