MUNCHHH was developed by Thai firm Balance Corp, which has an eventual objective of creating various healthy snacking solutions with a balance between being both delicious and healthy.
“We are looking to be in that middle ground of snacking between snacks that solely focus on being delicious, such as Lay’s potato chips, and products that focus on being healthy, such as supplements or nutritional replacements,” Balance Corp Founder Norawee Bussadeegarn told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“So for our first product range, which is MUNCHHH, a range of plant-based balanced savoury snacks,all the products have been designed to contain one part protein, one part carbohydrates and 0.2 parts fibre - which is equivalent to the nutritional proportions of food for a balanced diet.
“In comparison with regular potato chips, MUNCHHH is overall lower in calories (70kcal vs 169kcal) and fat (3g vs 9g) and higher in protein (5g vs 2g) and fibre (2g vs 1g).
[The key for us is to not] sacrifice health benefits with taste [such that] all our products are packed full of both flavour and nutrients, so as to ensure that every calorie from every bite is worth it.”
MUNCHH has also made an effort to stay in keeping with current food industry trends by ensuring its products are plant-based being made with various local grains and lentils, and are also keto-friendly.
“Yes, the MUNCHHH products are keto-friendly, and the keto trend has really been gaining traction in Thailand for some time, with popularity still remaining high currently,” Bussadeegarn added.
“That said, my personal belief is that keto or any other form of restricted crash diets are not sustainable due to being so restricted, non-pleasurable, and overall impossible to maintain – so although MUNCHHH can be eaten by keto consumers, our focus is not solely on developing for this market.
“In this post-pandemic era, I believe that the obsession with fad diets is waning, so these are on the way out, and tomorrow’s diet will be a mindful one that is balanced and sustainable – and that is where we want our snacks to fit in.”
Blurring of lines
As a whole, Thai consumers are displaying a much stronger demand for health and wellness products post-pandemic, and Bussadeegarn also called out ‘dishonest’ products that are attempting to capitalise on this demand without putting in the required groundwork and research.
“Many healthy products have been appearing in the Thai food market - all the newly launched products are moving towards healthier trends, and having a unique taste and texture. So it is obvious that the lines between ‘pleasurable snacks’ and ‘healthy snacks are being blurred and it is no longer an either/or market,” he said.
“However, I have long felt like many of these still lacked something - and after doing our research, we realised that this ‘something’ is true health benefits.
“Many products make exaggerated claims regarding health benefits which can be quite deceiving to consumers, and for us we have emphasised a lot on investing in innovation so that we can ensure that our products can really deliver what they promise.”
MUNCHHH was awarded the bronze award at the 2021 global Pentawards for its packaging design, gaining it significant recognition, and also secured a place in Thailand’s renowned SPACE-F accelerator programme this year, which is run by both the government and food industry giant Thai Union.
Riding on this high, the firm is looking to formally launch MUNCHHH into the market later this year, and is also in the midst of developing other balanced snacks such as chocolate balls, cereal, ice cream, gummy bears and more.
“The pandemic has led to some delays in production for us, but we are looking to launch at least two products this year,” said Bussadeegarn.
“Our primary focus will first be online sales – this is so that we can offer lower prices without any mark-up from a middle-man, and so we can directly get feedback from our customers. It also enables us to optimize our inventories more efficiently and work on producing more SKUs.”
The first two flavours expected to hit the market this year are Mala and Nori Seaweed, which the firm will be bringing to major e-commerce platforms such as Lazada and Shopee as well as via its own online store before looking at offline supermarket retail later down the line.