Nomad Foods: innovating for healthier snacking

Published: 29/09/2023

Aims and objectives

Sofficini is an important product range in Nomad Foods’ portfolio, Europe’s largest frozen foods company. The products in the Sofficini range comprise a pancake stuffed with a sauce filling and mozzarella core, that are battered, breaded and frozen. These products are typically pre-fried in oil before they are frozen and sold to the consumer, where the consumer usually oven-bakes the product at home. Sofficini production is based in Cisterna di Latina (Italy).

As part of Nomad Foods’ Health and Nutrition Strategy, the company is rolling out a project to improve the nutritional profile of the Sofficini range by significantly reducing the fat, saturated fat, and salt levels of the products without compromising on taste performance and consumer expectations.

Ingredients and processing

To reduce the saturated fat, lower-fat cheeses were chosen, while salt reduction was achieved by reducing the salt content in the sauce filling. In some cases, oat fibre was added to the sauce filling to increase the fibre content of the product as well as to improve the consistency. The changes were successfully implemented using innovations in processing to obtain the same filling viscosity and behaviour during the pancake filling and folding step in the factory.

On the other hand, to reduce the overall fat in the product a new technology was applied to significantly reduce the oil content in the Sofficini range.

All recipe changes underwent and passed sensory tests positively, guaranteeing the same taste and acceptance from consumers with no differences in terms of appearance, aroma, and flavour.

Development and testing

Conventional methods of pre-frying battered products, such as these stuffed pancakes, lead to a large uptake of oil, often coming across as a greasy and less healthy product for consumers. The pre-frying step also results in a higher amount of total fat in the product, subsequently increasing calories.

Our new and innovative process technology was developed and patented to remove the deep-frying step to reduce oil uptake. This new technology enables the application of a lower and more precise amount of oil on the product compared to the standard fried product. This results in a product that is lower in fat (approximately 30%) but that maintains the same texture and product performance for the consumer.

Results and outcomes

The Sofficini range now boasts healthier products, with less fat (approximately 30% reduction) as well as saturated fat and salt reductions. These improvements also resulted in products with better nutritional profiles that are more appealing to the consumer compared to similar products currently on the market. All this while maintaining the same sensory properties and shelf life.

Related Members