Equipment supplier Baker Perkins is tapping into trend for healthier snacking with the development of machinery to create crunchy granola bars.

The process involves compressing a sheet of pre-mixed granola to a higher density than conventional cold-formed granola bars, which the supplier says achieves a biscuit-like product.

Although oats are the usual base for granola bars, the machinery can handle products made from other grains and dehydrated vegetables, with inclusions and yoghurt coatings.

The initial mixing process involves blending dry ingredients in a batch mixer and then metering them into a continuous mixer, along with oil and sugar, to form a mass. Baker Perkins noted that the high level of compression helped bind the mass together, meaning less syrup was required.

The mass is transferred to a live bottom bin, which provides a metered feed to a feeder/spreader unit that distributes the mix to a constant thickness across the full width of the oven infeed band. A compression roll provides a final consolidation and gauging of the sheet before baking. After cooling, a slitter and guillotine divide the sheet into individual bars before wrapping.

Baker Perkins believes granola represents a “significant opportunity” for food manufacturers due to its increasing popularity as breakfast cereal and cereal bars.

“There are several drivers for the growth of granola, including increasing awareness of the health benefits of oats (high fibre, slow energy release and gluten-free); the relentless growth of the cereal bar market; and, as a breakfast cereal, speed and convenience compared with oatmeal (porridge),” the company said.

The company, whose UK headquarters are in Peterborough, provides equipment for the manufacturer of a variety of baked goods, including bread, biscuits, crackers and snacks.