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April 2018

Clean-label snack and bakery products become more prevalent as consumer interest grows (Snackfood & Wholesale Bakery)

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Nutrition breakfast bars filled with strawberry

March 19, 2018 (Liz Parker)

Consumers are reading labels more, looking for products that are nutritious, with ingredients that are easy to understand and that work with their family’s budget. While there’s no official definition of “clean label,” consumers and the snack and bakery industry have their own definition in mind.
Prevailing definitions

“Since there is no official definition of ‘clean label,’ it’s up to consumers to define what clean label is to them, and how it will influence their purchases,” says Catherine Barry, director of marketing, National Honey Board, Firestone, CO. “Many consumers want to look at the ingredient listing on the back of a loaf of bread or cookie and recognize the ingredients on the list.”

Going clean label is ultimately about building trust with the shopper. They need to be assured that you will not try to feed them anything that they are uncomfortable with, explains Kurt Villwock, Ph.D., director of R&D, Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, WI. “A clean-label food should come from a familiar and recognizable source that has not been overly refined or exposed to chemicals. Simple and short ingredient lists evoke feelings of trust from consumers.”

These clean labels also add a sense of wholesomeness and transparency to the product. “In the eyes of the consumer, clean label foods are recognized as simple, wholesome and authentic,” says Jeff Smith, director of marketing, Blue Diamond Almonds, Global Ingredient Division, Sacramento, CA. “Today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced, and they have interest in following a product’s journey from farm to table.”

One way to think of clean label would be in terms of “free from”—not always free from allergens, but from ingredients that can sometimes have negative connotations.

“Like ‘natural,’ ‘clean label’ is not a regulated term in commerce. At Daymon, we think of ‘clean label’ at retail in terms of ‘free from.’ A ‘free-from’ claim may be very basic, such as ‘no artificial colors, trans-fats or MSG,’ as ALDI has promised for its private brands other than SimplyNature, which has 125 excluded ingredients,” remarks Carl Jorgensen, director, thought leadership, Daymon, Stamford, CT. “The advantage of clean label’s ‘free-from’ approach is that it is clearly defined and defensible, unlike the vague term ‘natural.’”

While “natural” and “clean label” aren’t synonymous, they are related. “Clean label is the move within the food industry toward simplifying and including more natural ingredients in food products,” says Matthew Dahabieh, PhD, chief science officer, Renaissance BioScience, Vancouver, British Columbia. “It could also be applied to the removal of unhealthy compounds such as acrylamide, formed naturally during cooking.”

Consumers also want to be able to recognize what goes into their food. “Consumers are increasingly looking for simple, less-processed ingredients, with some familiarity—i.e., ingredients that a home cook or baker would have in their pantry. Or, at the very least, they want to know the reason some ‘less-pronounceable’ ingredients are in their food,” says Vanessa Brovelli, manager, product development, Bay State Milling, Quincy, MA.

“While analyzing the many food claims in today’s food production marketplace, it’s easy to see a desire for transparency,” says Erika Chance, associate director of brand strategy, Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, Kansas City, MO. “Our SHS FoodThink research illustrates that consumers are now looking for claims like ‘no hormones,’ ‘no antibiotics’ and ‘no trans fats,’ which points to their yearning for more information about the foods they eat.”

This might even mean looking at products that are good for the environment. “Clean label has really evolved to become twofold—as consumers embrace well-being and look to foods that support a healthy lifestyle, they also want to ensure that what they eat also positively supports the environment,” comments Molly Spence, director of North America, Almond Board of California, Modesto. “For product developers, this means ensuring that every ingredient sourced is produced responsibly and is nutritious, and delivers on taste, so consumers can feel great about what they are eating.”

Ingredient selections

Some ingredients naturally have clean-label appeal based on their familiarity to everyday consumers.. “Honey is the ideal ingredient in clean-label product development by the very nature of the ingredient. This all-natural sweetener comes straight from nature: from the bee, to the hive, to a food and beverage facility,” says Barry.

Barry suggests that, from a marketing perspective, honey may give product marketers a competitive advantage by how honey reads and looks on ingredient listings and front of packaging. Popular honey iconography, too, such as honeybees, honeycomb and honey dippers, signal to consumers that an all-natural sweetener and flavor is being used in a product, she notes.

Nuts are also a great ingredient naturally suited to clean-label snacks and baked goods. “Blue Diamond almonds are a clean-label ingredient that fit perfectly within two prominent consumer trends: a desire for natural foods, and a shift to more plant-based diets,” explains Smith. “They are well known for their nutritional and heart-healthy benefits. They’re a great source of key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.”

Spence agrees. “In all their forms, California almonds fit into the holistic, clean-label approach. They are a natural ingredient produced using sustainable farming practices, backed by over 40 years of research conducted by the Almond Board of California. This means that product developers can feel really confident incorporating almonds in their many forms in any clean-label formulation and marketing it as such to consumers.”

Fruit ingredients are another natural fit for clean-label foods, notes the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, CA. “The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is working with the industry to maximize consumers’ favorable view of blueberries, which spark visions of hearth and home, along with traditional wholesomeness,” says Tom Payne, industry specialist. “This demand for natural ingredients and clean label is a perfect setting for fruits like blueberries, which contain many naturally occurring antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E.”

For corn snacks, Healthy Food Ingredients, Fargo, ND, offers its Suntava Purple Corn, with non-GMO and certified-
organic options in whole, raw form, as well as in as flour, meal or grits. “All of our ingredients are single ingredients, with no additives. Since our ingredients are organic, they are mechanically processed, without the use of synthetic materials or chemicals,” notes Jennifer Tesch, chief marketing officer. “Our ingredient portfolio of flours, flakes and grits are minimally processed, utilizing the whole grain.”

Sweet potato ingredients are seeing more use in snacks and baked goods, and the ingredients resonate with clean-label ideals, notes Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients (CIFI), Nashville, NC. “Everything we do is clean label,” says Paul Verderber, vice president of sales. “Sweet potato ingredients give product developers the opportunity to add the health and functional attributes of sweet potatoes to many applications, while staying on trend with clean label.”

In August 2016, CIFI’s sweet potato ingredients received organic certification under the USDA National Organic Program. “We are proud to have met the rigorous standards of one of the leading organic certifiers in the U.S. so we can help brands provide organic options for their customers,” adds Verderber.

Manufacturers are being challenged to replace “unfriendly” ingredients with clean alternatives, while maintaining taste, texture and shelf life, notes Courtney Schumacher, marketing specialist, bakery, Kerry, Beloit, WI, which offers a portfolio of natural and organic flavors, seasonings, and dairy powders to allow for the removal of artificial flavors.

Other ingredients address functional needs. “Our broad range of Biobake enzymes and clean-label texture systems aid in processing and help maintain texture, while allowing manufacturers to remove products like L-cysteine, mono- and diglycerides, SSL, CSL, and DATEM,” says Schumacher.

Delavau Food Partners, Philadelphia, has a variety of clean label solutions to improve shelf life for bakery and snacks. “Encore Plus, in particular, delivers formula optimization in baked goods tailored to suit our partners’ needs,” says Matt Patrick, director of research and development. The company also offers Encore Soft, for a better eating experience; Encore Fresh antimicrobial solutions, for shelf-life extension; Encore Strong ingredients, for dough strength, volume, elasticity and tolerance; and Encore Relax extensibility solutions, for consistent pan and dough length. To boost nutritionals, Accent fortification solutions incorporate calcium and other desirable minerals into baked goods and chocolate.

Renaissance BioScience offers an acrylamide-reducing yeast. Acrylamide is an increasing concern because of the rising consumer and thus industry awareness, particularly in Europe, and the EU is moving toward establishing guidelines for acrylamide levels in a wide variety of foods, beginning in April 2018.

“Our acrylamide-reducing yeast, which was developed from a baker’s yeast, naturally produces an enzyme that consumes asparagine—the precursor to acrylamide—and requires no additional labeling. This is unlike the purified asparaginase, which does require labeling in some jurisdictions,” says Dahabieh.

Fiberstar specializes in producing citrus fiber, which has the unique distinction of being both clean label and having highly useful properties for product developers, comments Villwock.  “Citri-Fi is made from non-GMO citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes, and can be labeled as ‘citrus fiber,’ ‘citrus flour’ or ‘dried citrus fiber,’ which resonates well in the clean-label markets.”

Citri-Fi 100 is useful for successfully troubleshooting texture and mouthfeel problems in clean-label foods, notes Villwock. “Formulators of clean label foods know all too well the ever-shrinking list of ingredients that their customers will permit in their food. Despite limited options, the food still must taste great and, furthermore, have the stability to make it through the rigors of shelf life and mass distribution.”

A maturing market

Many snack and bakery companies are embracing clean label in their products. “All bakery and snack categories are feeling some sort of impact from the clean-label trend,” remarks Barry. “Judging from new product introductions, the bread industry has fully embraced clean label, as have many salty snack categories, and sweet goods and desserts.” In these products, she adds, many consumers want to ensure that the calories upon which they are indulging come from all-natural ingredients.

Ingredion Inc., Bridgewater, NJ, recently conducted proprietary consumer research across eight bakery and snack categories—breads, cookies, cakes, tortillas/flatbreads, potato and tortilla chips, pretzels, and snack bars—and found that the top two claims that drove purchase intent with customers were “no artificial additives, preservatives or flavors” and “all natural,” notes Ricardo Rodriguez, marketing manager, confectionary and bakery. “Simple and transparent labeling continues to be a trend, particularly within extruded and puffed type of snacks and the bar market. These types of products continue to grow in the market, because consumers are willing to pay a premium for simple and clean.”

Tesch says that she is seeing the most clean-label growth in the better-for-you snacking and baking categories. “These include organic, non-GMO, plant-based protein, gluten-free and raw/less-processed foods.”

As consumers continue to increase their snacking habits, clean-label snack consumption will likely increase. “At Blue Diamond, we know that consumers are snacking more than ever, with more than 90 percent reaching for a snack at least once a day,” notes Smith. “They’re increasingly seeking clean-label snacks that have a health benefit related to their ingredient mix—whether those snacks are salty, savory or sweet, high or low calorie. Top of mind for consumers is portable snacks and nutrition bars made with simple, clean label ingredients that deliver functionality.”

Brovelli also cites the growth of clean-label snack and nutrition bars, with a focus on simple, healthy ingredients like dates or honey as binders in place of corn syrup, and nuts, grains and seeds for protein and fiber in place of concentrates and isolates.

Formulating clean-label snacks and baked goods will continue to pose challenges. “One of the clean-label challenges in baking is shelf life. Removing trans fats and substituting butter or cold-pressed oils can dramatically reduce shelf life,” comments Jorgensen.

But Jorgensen notes that he has seen the biggest growth in clean-label salty snacks and crackers: “These clean-label snacks are relatively simple to execute from an ingredient standpoint, and offer many opportunities for platform and flavor innovation.”

And unsurprisingly, millennials are a big reason why clean label has seen such strong levels of growth. “Consumers are recognizing that to support a healthy and active lifestyle, they need a healthy diet—this includes ‘healthy-ish’ snacks. To the millennial generation, this means clean label and/or organic,” explains Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing, Fiberstar.

“The millennial segment is a big opportunity for clean-label marketing, because they favor individuality and customizing what they eat,” adds Payne.

Artisan bread is also becoming more popular in the clean-label arena. “Artisan bread is gaining momentum,” says Brovelli. “Artisan baking has traditionally been clean label, with very few ingredients, and more focus on long fermentation times to achieve flavor and shelf life.”

Consumers are urging the removal of negative ingredients and desiring clean-label options for high-consumption categories and staples, says Soumya Nair, director of marketing insights, Kerry. This includes bread. “Baked breads are the most prominent, calling to attention the removal of DATEM, emulsifiers, CSL and SSL, among many others. The need for a simple ingredient deck that mimics a recipe has been higher than ever before.”

Frozen foods can boost sales through healthy, flavor-forward innovation (Snackfoods & Wholesale Bakery)

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baked pizza with toppingsFrozen foods can boost sales through healthy, flavor-forward innovation
Melissa Kvidahl

In select spots across the freezer case, sales are heating up—despite consumer trends that seem at odds with growth. “We have seen a significant consumer migration from center aisles and frozen to the perimeter of the store, where products are perceived as fresher and better for you,” says Agnes Lapinska, senior marketing manager of performance specialties and savory, Ingredion, Westchester, IL. But innovation in the freezer case is pulling consumers back, she says, and sales are rising as a result.

According to data from IRI, Chicago, for the 52 weeks ending November 5, 2017, dollar sales in the frozen appetizer and snack roll segment grew 5.11 percent to $2.1 billion. Category leaders include General Mills, up 2.51 percent to $562.2 million, and Ruiz Food Products, up 21.82 percent in to $245.4 million.

Dollar sales of frozen pretzels rose 1.99 percent since the previous year, with segment leader J&J Snack Foods Corp.—which acquired artisan pretzel and bread baker Labriola Baking Co. in August 2017—up 4.50 percent to $58.2 million. Hanover Foods Corp. also posted growth, up 12.46 percent.

Frozen breaded vegetables dropped 9.42 percent to $26.9 million, but segment leader Pictsweet saw strong growth, up 25.31 percent to $9.8 million.

Frozen pizza, led by an impressive 16.27 percent gain in private label, grew 2.24 percent to $4.7 billion. Other standouts included Schwan’s Co. brand Tony’s, up 22.40 percent to $89.9 million and Nestlé brand Stouffer’s, up 16.24 percent to $65.1 million. However, frozen pizza crusts and dough fell 4.16 percent to $18.7 million.

The key to success? Elevating the frozen-food experience to rival that of a home-cooked or even a restaurant experience. “Quality, flavor and overall appeal have always been important in frozen foods. It’s just the bar for judgment continues to be raised by consumers as they become more experiential regarding food—i.e., seeking exciting food experiences—and the overall food marketplace continues to elevate what it can offer,” explains Jordan Bate, associate brand manager, Lamb Weston, Eagle, ID.

 Elevating quality,  meeting trends

“The explosion of fresh prepared foods has challenged frozen food manufacturers to provide convenient meal solutions that are as close to fresh as possible,” says John Toaspern, chief marketing officer, Potatoes USA, Denver. “Processors are rising to the challenge by improving the quality of the raw ingredients used, ensuring optimal freshness and flavor.” By using the highest-quality ingredients, frozen foods can compete with fresh offerings on natural and processing trends, while winning the race on convenience and year-round availability.

“Fresh ingredients are the key,” says Tryg Siverson, chief operating officer of Feel Good Foods, Brooklyn, NY. “They always have and will continue to be.” He also notes that it’s important to help deliver a unique experience for the consumer.

Lamb Weston helps tell a story with its new Grown in Idaho brand of frozen potato products. The bags feature prominent “Grown in Idaho” branding.

At Ruiz Food Products, Inc., Dinuba, CA, real, definable ingredients help elevate the brand’s frozen offerings. For example, its El Monterey Simply Breakfast Egg, Turkey Sausage, and Cheese Breakfast Burrito is made with real scrambled eggs and fresh-baked whole-grain tortillas, clocking in at 11 grams of protein and just 220 calories. “As we look at today’s consumer preferences, I believe it is important to note that one of the reasons for our brand’s growth is the desire for options that are healthy and offer energy,” says Rachel P. Cullen, president and CEO.

Nesha Zalesny, technical sales manager, Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, WI, has noticed increased demand for plant-based offerings. “This is not just meat-analogue products that can be used to replace meat in traditional dishes, but entire entrées centered around vegetables,” she says. One example of this trend in action is the rise in cauliflower products like cauliflower pizza crusts. Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing, also notes a rise in demand for healthy ingredients like ancient grains, tempeh and quinoa in frozen items.

As is the case across the food industry, clean label is important in the freezer case. “Increasingly, consumers want to know how ingredients were produced,” says Pam Stauffer, global marketing programs manager, Cargill, Minneapolis. As a result, product developers have moved away from ingredients like modified starches, which have previously played critical roles in frozen food applications but have come under scrutiny in recent years for clean label consumers. Cargill’s SimPure line of functional native starch solutions, launched in fall 2017, specifically addresses this issue. They can replace modified starches in frozen foods and withstand up to 12 freeze/thaw cycles.

On the dough front, Cargill also offers premium lecithins combined with select enzymes, which can produce loaves “nearly indistinguishable” from those made with common dough conditioners and emulsifiers like DATEM and monoglycerides, says Bill Gilbert, certified master baker and principal food technologist.

Going further with flavors

According to Siverson, ethnic flavors continue to be a driver for this space, as they are for many products across the industry.

“There’s an entire world of cuisine manufacturers can introduce to consumers,” says Zalesny. “Indian flavors are becoming more common, but African cuisines have not yet been brought to the mass market.”

If you ask Peggy Castaldi, marketing director, SubHerb Farms, Turlock, CA, one way to elevate frozen flavors is to focus on regional flavors. “For example, consumers aren’t just looking for Mexican,” she says. “They are looking for foods from the Yucatan or from Baja.” Along these same lines, brands can explore flavors specific to different South American cuisines, like those from Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador, or specific Asian flavor profiles like those from the Philippines, Singapore or Malaysia.

In August 2017, SupHerb Farms introduced three new culinary pastes: S’chug, Chermoula and Aji Pesto, along with a Tabbouleh Starter blend. Adventurous eaters will flock to these offerings, but to appeal to the wider consumer base, these flavors make sense in familiar formats. “You can use S’chug, a Yemeni hot sauce, as a sauce for a breakfast sandwich, in a potato dish or on a flatbread,” Castaldi suggests.

Looking ahead

For frozen foods to truly compete, brands may be wise to take a page from the playbooks of ready-to-cook delivery services like Blue Apron, says Zalesny.

Why? As Bate points out, continued growth of online, pickup and delivery services opens the doors for frozen to win back eating occasions from traditional restaurants.

“Have the majority of ingredients prepped and ready to finish cooking and customized by the consumer,” Zalesny says.

Alternatively, frozen brands can win these types of consumers by offering frozen foods with little preparation needed. “Many consumers are on the go, and are looking for easy dinners to serve,” says Tom Mac Donald, vice president of sales and marketing, Brolite Products, Streamwood, IL. “They want variety and healthy options that are prepared and ready for them, and they don’t want to sacrifice any flavor. It has given the freezer aisle an excellent opportunity to grow, expand their selections to include these types of meals, and get creative in their packaging and marketing.”

But what should be included in these new offerings? Stephens suggests that vegetarian meats, which are often sold as standalone individual items, will attract not just vegetarians, but also carnivores open to trying something new. “Because meals contain multiple components, the acceptance rate of vegetarian meats may be higher than consuming alone,” she says.

Frozen pizzas or breakfast burritos prominently featuring vegetarian meats could attract attention from healthy-leaning shoppers seeking better-for-you options.

“The modern consumer is very health-conscious and will look for those options that most closely resemble a fresh, homemade meal,” says Mac Donald. “Manufacturers can bring life to the freezer case by using frozen ingredient technology, so products come out of the freezer with a fresh, attractive appearance and flavor to follow. It’s time for innovation. Thinking outside the box is no longer a luxury, it’s a means of survival.”

BLOG: Top 10 Trends at Natural Products Expo West

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The Natural Products Show unveils the top natural trends within the food industry such as sustainability, meatless meat and vegan foods. Product developers look for clean label ingredients like Citri-Fi®, a natural citrus fiber with high water holding capacity and emulsification properties, to improve texture and nutrition of these natural food products. Fiberstar’s technical sales manager, Nesha, shares her insights.

Natural Fruit Smoothies

The first thing you notice as you enter the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim is the incredible crowd. The area in front of the convention center is packed with people, tents, food trucks, a bandstand and cars trying to drop people close to the doors of the convention hall. While navigating the crowd, even an extrovert like myself wants to turn around and head back to the car—which is parked several miles away. There is a man walking behind me who is juggling a large floral arrangement and several boxes. So I offer to help him carry his items. I walk him as far as the hotel where I am going to pick up my badge. His partner arrives just as I am handing off a box and the flowers. I glance at my FitBit and notice I have already logged 7000 steps which is almost to my goal. I forge into the hotel to get my badge.

After I clear the entrance requirements, I make my way inside. I see a lot of spokespeople handing out samples of their products. Last year, there were costumed goddesses and cows doling out samples. This year seems to be a little more casual. I meander around one of 8 to 10 glass displays highlighting new product launches and quickly realize that Citri-Fi, a natural citrus fiber is an ideal solution for this market due to its natural functionality and clean label. Afterwards, I head up to the New Products Expo on the third floor of the convention center. Assuming it will be slightly less crowded than the main floor of the Expo, I decide to start at the top and work my way down.

Vegan Foods
Once I get upstairs, I realize I’m wrong. The aisles are nearly impassable from the crowd of people. The new products floor is comprised of companies who are trying to find brokers to get them into the grocery stores. Everywhere I look, I see vegan products such as vegan “chicken nuggets” as well as vegan ice cream, sauces and baked goods. There is even vegan jerky. From a food scientist perspective, vegan products can be difficult to formulate. Removing eggs and butter from a cookie, for example, requires a systems approach. The binding and humectant properties of the egg are key to creating quality products. However, once the egg is reduced or removed, the texture is compromised. Citri-Fi, a natural citrus fiber contains high surface area which binds the moisture and improves the texture of the product over its shelf-life. For vegan “chicken” nuggets, Citri-Fi will hang on to the moisture of the nugget, especially under heat lamps to maintain a moist and juicy morsel.

Sustainability is a big buzz word. There are products touting cruelty-free farm animals and free range chicken and beef. One of the most interesting booths is the “cricket protein.” The argument for eating this protein is one of sustainability. Insect biomass is one of the most plentiful sources of protein on earth and insects do not require a lot of natural resources to raise. Intellectually, I know that the seafood I like so well – shrimp, lobster and crab – are essentially the insects of the ocean, but I can’t bring myself to actually try them. Maybe next year…

Specialty Dairy Foods
There are a lot of specialty dairies represented on this floor showing products ranging from specialty dessert style whole milk yogurt, kefir to gelato and ice cream. These companies talk about small batch processing, specialty ingredients and regional flavors. Chatting with one company, Gelato Fiasco (isn’t that a fantastic name?), I sample their strawberry cheesecake gelato. I love how flavorful and creamy the gelato is. Citri-Fi is an excellent natural choice for ice cream, yogurt and kefir. With Citri-Fi’s naturally occurring pectin, this natural ingredient can texturize yogurt and kefir, and control syneresis over the shelf-life of the product. It is a natural emulsifier, and, because it is freeze-thaw stable, this natural fiber can improve the abuse tolerance of a natural label ice cream. So many ice creams turn to sand immediately after opening the package. Citri-Fi can eliminate that because it hangs onto water so well during the temperature cycling of the freezer. Enjoying my strawberry cheesecake treat, I head downstairs.

Savory Sauces
It is lunchtime. I thought a lot of people would be off grabbing a bite, but, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The main floor is so packed, it is actually difficult to walk. The usual suspects are here. Boulder Brands has a large booth. Bai Brands is handing out Bai waters which is really nice, as I’m really thirsty from sampling upstairs. The booths on the main floor which are more established companies appear much more elaborate compared to the ones upstairs. Several RVs set up on the floor display products and demonstrations including one featuring vegan barbecue. Citri-Fi works well in barbecue sauce as a texturant. There are several companies trying to replace modified starches with native starches to varying degrees of success due to process stability challenges. Citri-Fi can be used in place to improve the sauce thickness and stability under varying food processing conditions. Starch often muddies up the flavor release of barbecue sauce, but due to the Citri-Fi, the flavor pops nicely while improving the mouthfeel and texture.

I notice that the trends on this floor are similar to trends upstairs, but, one thing that stands out is the prevalence of coconut snacks. If you haven’t tried them, chips made from coconut are tasty. They are crisp and only slightly sweet. There are samples galore of these type of products, so I grab several. Coconut flour is also becoming more common in gluten-free options. Coconut flour doesn’t have the same binding properties as wheat flour so glutinous (sweet) rice flour is fairly commonly used. This can cause the product to really dry out over time. Citri-Fi’s high water holding capacity and binding improves the gluten-free baked goods texture over shelf-life which is key for high quality foods.

Paleo Friendly
Also, I notice the signage talking about “Paleo” friendly. The number of companies that cater to this lifestyle is fairly staggering. People following this lifestyle do not eat grains or legumes, so making snack options that fit within this lifestyle isn’t easy. I suddenly feel old remembering when Atkins was huge and everyone was going low-carb and sugar-free. I think the differences between these two lifestyles are subtle.

Gluten-free is also a standout on the main floor. This continues to be a trend. And the quality of gluten-free products is increasing. I know this has made several of my friends who need gluten-free options very happy. They now have a choice when it comes to the grocery aisle, where they never did prior to 2010. Gluten-free baked goods can benefit from the water binding ability of Citri-Fi not to mention the natural emulsification properties. Binding water tightly helps with the shelf-life eating qualities.

Ethnic Variety
One of my favorite trends is the shear choice of regional cuisines. There were a lot of South East Asian food, Indian food and African food everywhere. There were frozen options, canned products and amazing sauces. For instance, there were quite a few coconut milk based sauces. Typically, these sauces contain several spices and suffer from separation issues. Citri-Fi’s high surface area binds the oil to minimize this type of separation. Citri-Fi greatly improves the emulsion of the sauce. A few years ago, the IBIE show featured Brazilian cheese puffs. It was nice to see this company peddling these treats at this show. The one I got was a little wilted and dry. It makes me think of restaurants reconstituting rolls or bread sticks in a heating drawer. The samples at the end of the shift are often dry and crumbly, where the first samples were fantastic. This would be another excellent application for Citri-Fi. The other standout on the main floor was the number of beverage manufacturers. Maple or birch water, Bai antioxidant water, pH adjusted water and smoothies are all represented well.

Healthy Beverages
I head downstairs to see the bottom floor of the convention. These are smaller booths, but it is just as packed as the upper floors. There are many HPP processed smoothie type drinks available downstairs, along with gluten free snacks. Using Citri-Fi in the smoothie applications is beneficial. Manufacturers can extend expensive fruit pulp, with a less expensive fruit pulp, and get excellent mouthfeel and flavor release. And for those trying to replace carrageenan, Citri-Fi in conjunction with gellan gum can fully replace this ingredient while maintaining mouthfeel and stabilization.

Meatless Meat
Jack fruit meat replacement products are everywhere. For instance, one company is offering sandwiches made up of their “pulled pork.” The smell is amazing, and the texture is incredible. But, I wonder if the samples at the end of the day are very different from fresh samples. Controlling moisture in the system is probably very important. Citri-Fi is recommended in vegetarian meat products to bind that moisture and oil which improves the eating experience especially since most of these products are reconstituted.

At this point, I look at my FitBit and see I have walked 25,272 steps. That is more than double my daily goal. My feet are absolutely killing me so I decide it’s time to head out. My walk through the crowds outside at the food truck booths takes quite a bit of time. There are a lot of yogurt samples and vegan meats to try on the way out. The band has started to play reggae at the bandstand and the center court. I wish I could stay—mainly for the great samples and fun people who attend the show. By the time I get back to my car, I have walked almost 30,000 steps. I hope that my FitBit doesn’t expect this every day!

–Author: Nesha Zalesny (Technical Sales Manager)


BLOG: Natural Plant-based Fiber to Improve Vegetarian Meats

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Vegetarian Meat SandwichRegardless the reason – reducing saturated fats and cholesterol, celebrating meatless Mondays, trying a new experience or starting a diet for life – the alternative meat market sales propelled north over the past two years. Vegetarian or vegan meats have been in the market for over a decade. So why now a ramp in sales? Prior art used soy and wheat-based proteins, eggs and cheese to form a matrix to be shaped into grounds, patties and links. Today, there is a plethora of plant-based proteins to choose from which kicked the creativity up a few notches. Besides the health and wellness push, there are also the sustainable and environmental drivers helping to shape this new market of alternative meats.

Common Issues
However formulating with new plant-based ingredients such as ancient grains, beans, peas and lentils can introduce new challenges. Some of these health halo ingredients manage water holding differently especially when exposed to certain food processes and shelf life over time. Binding is key to prevent products from crumbling apart. Consumers are not the most delicate chefs in the kitchen, therefore, the patty versions tend to dry out when exposed to high temperatures over cook time. Hockey puck, anyone? And if these alternative meats are intended to simulate their animal-containing counterparts, then the texture and bite should be similar.

Natural Solution
One option is to use Citri-Fi®, a natural citrus fiber which is produced by a clean process that opens up the fiber to expose high surface area. This high surface area holds and binds large amounts of water and oil tightly. In products using alternative meat proteins, this natural fiber is fast swelling without the need of heat activation which provides stable moisture control during processing. Citri-Fi binds the moisture to buffer the loss during harsh final cook conditions. As a result, the patty or sausage link produces a juicy and tender bite. Citri-Fi also binds the oil tightly to reduce purge and maintain that full-fat mouthfeel.

This vegetarian meat market also speaks to the natural, plant-based, allergen-free and non-GMO movement. With consumers shying away from chemically-based ingredients, utilizing the nutritional and functional components of whole plant-based foods is the new frontier. Citri-Fi’s natural composition provides functionalities and contributes fiber as nature intended. Also, this natural fiber is made from real citrus fruit which is non-GMO and allergen-free. As a result, this natural ingredient can be labeled citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour which resonate well in the natural markets.

Author: Jennifer Stephens (VP of Marketing)

Other Related Articles:

Plant Protein Options for Meat Alternatives (Food Business News)

Why Consumer Elect Meat Alternatives (Prepared Foods)

Plant Potential Growth in a Market Driven by Consumer Trends (Food Ingredient First)

Bright Future for Alternative Proteins (Food Processing)