Snacks Switch Sugar ‘Glue’ For Sound Wave Technology
An Israeli startup has developed an unexpected and innovative method of replacing sugary syrup that binds snack bar ingredients together: using sound waves to compress and hold the ingredients in place.
There’s nothing more convenient than grabbing a tasty snack bar when you’re in need of an energy boost on the go or simply cannot be bothered to prepare a healthier option.
The problem is that each and every protein bar or granola bar you consume relies on sugar to hold its ingredients together – so even if it includes healthy fruits, grains, and nuts, it’s actually far from being a nutritious treat.
Torr FoodTech uses a unique combination of ultrasonic sound waves, which humans are incapable of hearing, and mechanical pressure to press dried fruits, nuts, and other ingredients together to make them stick, all in a matter of seconds and without the need for sugary syrups.
“The snack industry is addicted to added sugar. And the reason behind it is that sugar is actually the glue that combines all the ingredients together,” says Vered Kirsch, VP Marketing & Business Development at Torr.
“If it’s not refined sugar, it’s sugar substitutes like date paste, honey, glucose, and sweeteners. The issue with that is that it not only masks the original taste, but diminishes the nutritious value of the product,” she says.
“We cut, mix and press ingredients together without binders, so that the result is a minimally processed, better-for-you snack.”
Using pressure alone would just crush the ingredients, but the combination of that and ultrasonic sound waves ensures that the structural integrity, nutritional profile, and shelf-life of the ingredients are not affected. This is in contrast to the standard method of pouring hot sugar syrup on the bars, which reduces the vitamin and mineral content of the product. Some nutritional elements, such as vitamins B and C, are heat sensitive and pouring boiling sugar on them diminishes their value.
Kirsch won’t divulge much more beyond this, but says that the process works on dried and semi-dried ingredients, and that the ratios for each formula need to be tweaked in order for it to work.
And since no added sugar is needed to help the ingredients stick together, it opens up entirely new flavor possibilities for snacks – like savory, salty, and sour.
Sign up for our free weekly newsletterSubscribe
“With this platform, we can disrupt many categories, and not only bars,” explains Kirsch. “We can make crackers, crusts, and we can incorporate hard cheeses or jerky into snacks.”
Torr’s pressing process also requires 70 percent less energy per item than regular snack bars, making their production far more energy efficient.
The innovation has not gone unnoticed. Mondelēz International, the American snack giant behind such household names as Oreo, Toblerone, and Sour Patch Kids, is one of the startup’s earliest backers. It already uses Torr’s technology to create pressed bars under its brand Dirt Kitchen Snacks, which is available in the US.
Some of Dirt Kitchen’s more interesting snack bar combinations include tomato, raisin and black pepper; apricot, beets and pumpkin seeds; and tomato and pineapple.
Mondelēz’s innovation hub SnackFutures first invested in the startup in 2020, just one year after it launched. Mondelēz itself also participated in the $12 million funding round that Torr closed last November.
And in Israel, Torr has collaborated with the Strauss Group, one of the largest food product manufacturers in the country, in a limited pilot launch last summer. Kirsch says that the collaboration will expand to new products within the next few months.
Torr is currently in the process of marketing its pressed bars in Europe under the brand Presteez. All of the snacks that use its technology – whether they are sold in the US, Europe, or Israel – are manufactured in Torr’s own production facility in Moshav Tnuvot in central Israel. Eventually, the startup plans on opening another factory in the US.
“I believe that in 2024, we will be in many markets,” says Kirsch.