The firm, which manufactures ingredients such as nuts, seeds and cookie crunch, decided to instigate a New Product Development (NPD) programme in order to be able to cater for the changing demands in snack eating, spokesperson Becky Ray told BakeryAndSnacks.com . "Manufacturers are often looking to add a healthy twist to indulgent products such as ice-cream," she said. "So Pecan Deluxe decided to add a healthy perception to their products." As part of the programme, the company is developing a range of nut and seed products such as pumpkin seeds that are covered in chocolate, Ray said. The firm is also reformulating some of its older lines, for example by adding green tea extracts to chocolate. "While these products are not low-fat, the changes made will give the ingredients a healthy 'twist'", she added. The investment follows on from the company's earlier commitment to manufacture a range of healthier nut and seed products. In 2006 the firm launched basil & garlic pine nuts, teriyaki cashews and jerk almonds. The company also said it is planning to improve product traceability, in response to consumer demand for more information on where ingredients are from, and will clearly convey information such as fair trade or origin specifications. What's more, Pecan Deluxe is expanding its production facilities in the UK, and is hoping to increase exports across the EU and the US. "These are exciting times ahead for the company - the significant recent growth has seen the company invest in its new product development," managing director Allan Dew said in a statement. "Our company recognition across Europe is also growing and so we will be able to start developing flavours to match different regional tastes." However, the company would not give any financial details in regards to the development programme. Changing food market Healthy foods are increasingly the preoccupation all over the world, as in 2005 approximately 1.6bn adults were overweight and 400m were obese, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It further predicts that by 2015 2.3bn adults will be overweight and more than 700m will be obese. As more and more people actively trying to manage their weight, confectioners and bakers are seizing on the opportunity to meet these changing demands. For example, Nestle recently invested in a new premium chocolate centre, and Nestle Rowntree cut all artificial colourings out of its confectionery range. Nuts and seeds are consequently growing in popularity, thanks to their image of being a health food. In 2006, the global market was worth $10879.5 compared to $7283.8 in 2002, according to data from Euronomitor. Pecan Deluxe Pecan Deluxe is the UK subsidiary of the US Pecan Deluxe Candy company. Both supply food ingredients specifically for sauces, fillings, nut pralines, dessert toppings, ice creams and chocolate.