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Cracker Category Finds Future in Nutrition, Convenience (Prepared Foods)

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Crackers stand on their own with unique nutrition and flavors

The crackers category is, without a doubt, in transition. Previously a vehicle for cheese and a garnish for soup, the humble cracker is transforming into a snack that can stand on its own in terms of nutrient profiles and flavors.

As shoppers—and brands—adjust to the new landscape, sales remain stable. According to data from IRI, Chicago, sales in the crackers category overall remained relatively flat during the 52 weeks ending September 10, 2017, dropping 0.15% in dollar sales to $7.4 billion.

But some products clearly stood out from the competition for the year. Nabisco’s Good Thins, from category leader Mondel?z International, saw growth of 66.19% to $74.6 million, and Kellogg Co.’s Sunshine Cheez It Duoz grew 71.85% to $54.3 million. Cheez It Grooves also gained ground, up 11.31% to $94.9 million.

And while the overall crackers with fillings segment was likewise flat (up 0.12% to $1.1 billion), Nabisco’s segment-leading Ritz sandwich crackers grew 21.16% to $133.3 million.

Nutrition-rich

As the crackers category undergoes a transformation, so too does the better-for-you trend that impacts it. “The better-for-you segment has evolved from a ‘food minus’ philosophy—such as reduced fat—to a ‘food plus’ approach—such as using vegetable powders, pulses, plant-based proteins, whole or ancient grains, or nut-based flours as bases,” explains Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing, Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, WI.

The “food minus” trend as it pertains to sugar is still impacting crackers, though, says Jim Kappas, vice president of sales and marketing, Malt Products Corp., Saddle Brook, NJ. As such, malt extracts remain popular ingredients in this category, since they’re inherently lower in added sugars. In fact, says Kappas, “an argument can be made that they have no added sugars, since they are hydrolyzed using endogenous enzymes,” which can be a powerful labeling message for brands.

Keeping sodium low is also still a concern, says Naomi Novotny, president, SaltWorks, Inc., Woodinville, WA. But rather than purely minimizing sodium, cracker formulators may benefit from using sodium more wisely so as to get the most flavor out of a lesser amount.

“Sea salts and mineral salts like our Ancient Ocean Himalayan Pink Salt are recognized by consumers as more flavorful and healthful,” explains Novotny, and can make for powerful on-pack messaging. SaltWorks offers all-natural sea salt in a selection of grain sizes, from very fine powder grain for even coating to granulations that offer a crunchy texture and visual appeal. She notes that SaltWorks salts can help manufacturers lower salt content in their recipes—but not the salty taste.

Cracker manufacturers are also finding success by adding in ingredients with a better nutrient profile.

“Consumers are demanding more than a basic saltine for a variety of occasions,” says David Guilfoyle, group manager, bakery, fats and oils, DuPont Nutrition & Health, New Century, KS. “Consumers are looking for higher protein in their foods, and this includes crackers.” To that end, DuPont offers many protein addition options, including soy and pulse proteins, and in many different forms, from powders to nuggets and flakes. DuPont has also recently launched a new line of pea proteins, also available in powders, nuggets, flakes and other forms. “The pea proteins are very big in consumer trends and are a great way to add protein into snacks and crackers,” he adds.

But perhaps the biggest trend impacting better-for-you-crackers is the addition of whole and ancient grains.

Joni Huffman, vice president of domestic business development, Healthy Food Ingredients (HFI), Fargo, ND, notes the company is launching new varieties of bean, pea and Suntava purple corn grits to use in various applications, including crackers. “These are essentially crushed kernels that provide the heartiness of whole grains and also add visual appeal,” she explains. HFI also offers flaked ingredients, as well as milled flax and chia, which can boost a cracker’s nutrient content.

“The overall goal of almost all new product formulations is to provide clean labels while still maintaining flavor and creating an eating experience,” says Catherine Barry, director of marketing, National Honey Board, Firestone, CO. “These trends have allowed the cracker category to push the boundaries on the types of grains and alternative proteins used as the foundation of a cracker product.” She has noticed that many cracker brands are shelving white, enriched flours in favor of whole and ancient grains, which offer a better nutritional profile.

The downside? These alternative grains can carry some off flavors, which need to be offset. One option is the sweetener used in the matrix, and in an environment where added sugars are scrutinized, cracker brands would be wise to choose a sweetener that’s recognizable and clean label, says Barry. “Honey is the perfect ingredient to mask any off flavors that whole grains may carry,” she explains. “Plus, it’s a great marketing tool. Honey is the perfect all-natural sweetener to use not only in the product, but also in the product name and packaging graphics.” As a bonus, she notes the gluconic acid in honey works to elevate the popular herbs and spices used in artisan crackers, like rosemary and garlic.

Some of the alternative grains in play with crackers today are gluten-free, and formulating with these flours and alternative grains can be difficult, says Nesha Zalesny, technical sales manager, Fiberstar. First, non-grain flours don’t have the same binding and water-holding properties as wheat flour, she points out. A clean-label solution to this issue is citrus fiber. “Citri-Fi is a functional fiber that holds seven to 10 times its weight in water and can emulsify six times its weight in oil,” she says.

The result? Manufacturers can use a whole-foods approach to adding nutrients to their crackers, one that relies on the native fiber, oils and protein of the ingredients, rather than adding protein or fiber separately later. “This approach minimizes the amount of ingredients in the cracker, giving it the clean and simple look while still carrying a health halo,” Stephens says.

A flavorful future

Previously a blank slate, neutral-flavored crackers simply won’t cut it for consumers—especially millennials, who want adventurous flavors. “Snack manufacturers should look at the independent and fast-casual restaurant industry for cues on the next flavor trends, as that’s where the millennial and Gen Z generations are spending their dollars,” says Guilfoyle, “and they are looking for those flavor trends on the grocery shelf.”

Zalesny notices Southeast Asian, Indian and African cuisine as leading the way with flavors. Specifically, Burmese cuisine is on her radar, a blend of spicy Indian and Chinese flavors.

Jonas Feliciano, market research manager, Kerry, Beloit, WI, says one way cracker brands can dip their toes into the adventurous flavor trend is by kicking up classic flavors with something unexpected. For example, the well-performing Cheez It Duoz utilize classic Cheddar alongside jalapeño or bacon flavors. Kerry offers a wide dairy portfolio, including Non-GMO Project Verified and organic dairy cheese powders, as well as powders free from colors and flavors.

SaltWorks is meeting the trends with naturally cold-smoked salts like Yakima Applewood Smoked Sea Salt as well as Durango Hickory Smoked Sea Salt, in addition to its flavor-infused varieties boosted with sriracha, ghost pepper and other on-trend ingredients. “These allow cracker and snack food manufacturers to tap into these top flavor trends without having to adjust product formulations or incorporate new or additional ingredients to mask bitter flavor notes that may develop when using liquid smoke or processed ingredients,” explains Novotny.

In the end, for a category in transition, it will be about finding the balance between better-for-you and better-tasting, says Feliciano. “Moving forward, cracker manufacturers will continue to search for the right combination of natural ingredients and bold flavors.”


On-trend launches
From bolder flavors to better ingredients, new launches in 2017 were developed with an eye to trends. Here are three top trends and the new launches that accompanied them this year.

Bold Flavors

Vea
Company: Mondel?z International
Varieties: Thai Coconut, Tuscan Herbs, Peruvian Sweet Potato, Greek Hummus
Bonus: In addition to on-trend international flavors, Vea savory biscuits are made with no artificial ingredients, colors, flavors or trans fats, and they’re Non-GMO Project Verified.

Added Nutrients

Crunchmaster Protein Snack Crackers
Company: TH Foods, Inc.
Varieties: Sea Salt, Roasted Garlic, Barbeque
Bonus: Boasting whole grains and 5 grams of protein per serving, this cracker line is clearly positioned as a protein snack.

Ancient Grains

Organic Sprouted Grains
Company: Primizie Snacks
Variety: Smoked Cheddar, Rustic Beets, Ancient Grains, Green Harvest
Bonus: Made with brown rice, teff, millet, amaranth, quinoa and sorghum, these flavor-rich “flatbread crisps” offer 9 grams of whole grains per serving.

Looking Beyond Traditional Fiber (Food Ingredients First)

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15 Aug 2017 (Gaynor Selby) One company that continues to trailblaze in terms of fiber is Ingredion, which late last year launched new fiber ingredients derived from potato and corn, neither of which has yet figured prominently in the fiber enrichment of baked goods. The VERSAFIBE 2470 and 1490 dietary fibers are designed for fiber fortification and calorie reduction in pasta and noodles, baked goods (such as bread, crackers and cookies) and extruded products. They are versatile, process stable, insoluble resistant starch ingredients and can be added with little to no impact on product texture, flavor or color. They can help manufacturers deliver such claims as “good source of fiber” or “excellent source of fiber” as well as “gluten-free,” according to the company. You can read the first part of this report here.

VERSAFIBE 2470 is a corn based fiber, while VERSAFIBE 1490 is a grain-free ingredient derived from potato.

“We continue to experience an increased demand for fiber fortification and calorie and carbohydrate reduction in the retail and foodservice space,” says Igor Playner, Ingredion’s vice president of innovation and strategy, North America.

“By formulating with VERSAFIBE 2470 and 1490 dietary fibers, food developers now have the ability to meet the demand for higher-fiber products with ingredients that are practically invisible to consumers in terms of texture, flavor and color.”

Ingredion already has a robust portfolio of fibers for health and nutrition, including HI-MAIZE resistant starch, a clean label alternative for blood sugar management and energy balance, NUTRAFLORA prebiotic soluble fiber for digestive support and NUTRIOSE soluble fiber for satiety and weight management benefits.

“VERSAFIBE dietary fiber is a synergistic companion to our product lineup,” notes Playner. “It has many functional attributes such as low cost-in-use fiber fortification, is easy to use, highly tolerant and provides a great eating experience in higher-fiber bakery products, snacks and pasta. That’s a winning combination,” adds Playner.

Fiberstar Inc. is another pioneer in terms of functional fiber with its recent launch of Citri-Fi 125, a natural citrus fiber used to improve tomato-based food products by replacing starches and gums in sauces, condiments and spreads. 

As consumers connect ingredients to the foods they eat by reading food labels, they expect recognizable, short and transparent labels, which are driving the need for clean label ingredients – and this is where Citri-Fi 125 comes in. 

“Citri-Fi, a natural citrus fiber created from the orange juicing process, is benefiting from the plant-based food trend. Many customers use this natural fiber in combination with other plant-based ingredients such as vegetable proteins, oils, starches and other fibers to improve the texture, quality and food labeling declaration,” says Fiberstar’s Jennifer Stephens, VP of Marketing.

“Citri-Fi can be labeled as ‘citrus fiber,’ ‘dried citrus pulp’ or ‘citrus flour.’ This natural fiber qualifies under the new FDA dietary fiber definition; therefore, it contributes fiber to food products.”

Although consumers are making more of an effort to either choose high fiber foods and beverages or perhaps take it as a supplement, there is still a gap between the recommended intake and current average intake of dietary fiber for the average person.

 

Consumer attitudes towards fiber
Recently a large scale investigation into Irish eating trends, diets, grocery shopping and general attitudes towards food, highlighted how health and well-being are more important than ever before in the perception of consumers.

The food attitudes study, carried out by Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board), provides a snapshot of attitudes and is a very interesting piece of research that shows how attitudes towards food have and continue to change. Carried out across eight countries – Ireland and the UK, four Continental European markets, along with the US and China – it involved more than 8,000 interviews.

One key takeaway from the research is that 84 percent of participants are trying to eat high fiber foods, while 88 percent see protein as an important part of their diet.

Citrus, An All Natural Fibre Solution (Asia Pacific Food Industry)

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Citrus, An All Natural Fibre Solution (Asia Pacific Food Industry)

We don’t like to admit it, but sometimes nature outsmarts us humans. Such is the case with citrus fibre, where the intact natural architecture of the fruit cells provides developers with multiple gainful functionalities. Clean label solutions need not be so difficult if one embraces the natural complexity. By Dr Kurt Villwock, director of product development, Fiberstar incorporated

Due to the broad definition of fibre as a substance that resists digestion by the upper human digestive system, a wide variety of fibres with different functionalities are available for use as ingredients. They can exist in purified form, like inulin or fructooligosaccharide (FOS), or be left in its natural botanical form, such as wheat bran or citrus fibre, or perhaps even partially purified.

They can be soluble or insoluble, and quite often they exist in that transition area of solubility known as a colloidal phase, like ?-glucan from oats and barley. Many pure fibre types are large polymers of sugars, such as guar gum or acacia, and some are substantially smaller such as resistant maltodextrins and fructans.

FIBRE’S HEALTH BENEFITS & APPLICATIONS

Fibre

The health benefits of fibre are multifold, but also vary somewhat based on the physio-chemical properties of the fibre, including both the composition and the structural form. Some acknowledged nutritional benefits include: promoting satiety, intestinal bulking, enhancing immune health by promoting growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that improve the health of the digestive lining, and increased bioavailability of micronutrients.

It is interesting that the natural form of a fibre impacts the way it is fermented in the gut. For example, resistant starches have plenty of exposure to amylases throughout the digestive track yet they avoid direct contact with the active sites of enzymes by making tight crystalline regions or by surrounding itself with a tight protein matrix.

Another example is pectin. Purified pectin is often reported to result in large amounts of acetate after fermentation in the gut, yet pectin-rich fruit pulps have a SCFA profile that often includes much more propionic and butyric acid.

Fibres are commonly used in various food products including but not limited to bakery, frozen foods, dairy, meats, sauces and beverages. In a beverage system, fibres are most commonly added to either boost the nutritional profile of the product, or to add texture, thickness or bulking to a beverage.

Even dissolved fibres like FOS can enhance the mouthfeel of a beverage to give it some body. Since many fibres are polymeric in nature, their properties are influenced by other beverage conditions such as the sugar content, salt content, acidity, available water, and presence of other fibres.

GOING BEYOND CELLULOSE—CITRUS FIBRE

Citrus fibre contains cellulose and hemicellulose in addition to the native pectin present in orange pulp. The cellulose and hemicellulose act as the backbone of the fibre. This structure forms a very cotton ball-like fibre with the pectin and cellulosics intertwined. This gives the fibre a unique mouthfeel.

The fibre drags across the tongue which can give a creamy texture to milky coffee beverages or with a larger grind size, can give a pulpy texture. The pulp extension can help formulators extend expensive fruit pulp without modifying or changing the mouthfeel of the beverage. It can also extend tomato solids in tomato-based sauces.

Conventional cellulose fibres more often come from dried grains and fibrous plants, which when compared to fruit fibres, often do not have the natural botanical architecture optimised for holding bulk water tightly.

As one might suspect from its name, citrus fibre itself is a good source of dietary fibre (comprising) 70-80 percent. It has been shown to be bifidogenic, meaning that it selectively promotes growth of health-associated Bifidobacterium at the expensive of less desirable bacteria species.

The quality of the citrus fibre depends somewhat on the source of the fibre material. Whole citrus fibre is taken as it is from the pulp or peel of a citrus fruit and is ideally not further processed beyond drying to a powder. Such citrus fibres are usually obtained from excess material in the juice industry and contribute to a very clean label.

This type of fibre has higher levels of soluble fibre, namely pectin. Some citrus fibre is generated from the process of purifying pectin as a separate ingredient so this type of citrus fibre has a much higher proportion of insoluble fibre, namely cellulose and hemicellulose.

Despite the high dietary fibre content, citrus fibre is rarely used at levels above one percent in food products. This is due to its high water holding capacity. High amounts of citrus fibre would eventually cause textural defects because it outcompetes many other ingredients for water.

Nonetheless, citrus fibre can be a valuable tool in high fibre foods and beverages as a complementary fibre that improves the palatability of the food by addressing common problems associated with health foods, such as lack of moistness and mouthfeel.

A NATURAL SOLUTION WITH MANY BENEFITS

A Natural Solution With Many Benefits

Whole citrus fibre that has not been chemically modified or stripped of its pectin has many functional properties that make it a great tool for formulators. This fibre is comprised of natural pectin, cellulose and hemicellulose and some residual protein. This chemical make-up of the slightly hydrophobic pectin, plus the physical cellulose framed structure of the fibre, make it able to hold onto not only water, but fats and oil too.

When the particles have been roughened by mechanical input, citrus fibre becomes more porous with a greater surface area which, in turn, makes it a great oil and water binder. Therefore, if you have both oil and water on the same particle, you have succeeded in making a natural emulsion.

In the Asian market, there are emulsion beverages such as milk tea and coconut milk drinks. These will often use chemical emulsifiers such as DMG, and sometimes if there is no hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB), separation will occur after processing.

The strong water holding capacity of citrus fibre makes it a useful tool for preventing freeze/thaw damage to frozen food products. The robust cellulose scaffolding also makes it thermally stable; it will not thin out or break down at high temperatures. These properties make it a great addition to meat products to retain water and fat for juicier meatballs and sausages. They can also help with moisture retention of meat fillings in steamed buns or dim sum type products.

The emulsification and water binding properties also make it a great addition to baked goods where it will help delay staling defects and extend the soft fresh texture over a longer shelf-life. These properties also make it a great addition to sauces where emulsification is desired without the use of chemical emulsifiers.

USING CITRUS FIBRE IN FRUIT-BASED & DAIRY APPLICATIONS

Due to its natural pectin content, citrus fibres can form gels in high acid, high brix applications like fruit preparations for yoghurt, bakery or spreads. Citrus fibre can replace or extend pectin where it is traditionally used.

Whole citrus fibre contains about 40 percent pectin, so in order to reach gelling conditions, one would need to use roughly twice as much citrus fibre as would be used with pure pectin. Despite this, the ingredient cost in use is often cheaper and arguably provides a cleaner label. The different grind sizes available can also permit the formulator to choose a fine or pulpy texture to suit the target application.

Citrus fibre can help control syneresis in cultured dairy products as well. Low levels of citrus fibre can add a creamy texture to yogurt products and help control syneresis in fresh cheeses such as cream cheese. Citrus fibre can increase yields and help manufacturers make the most of the water and fat in the system.

Working with whole citrus fibre is similar to working with other hydrocolloids. Dispersion and hydration are key to their functionality. For most applications, it is recommended to disperse citrus fibre with other dry ingredients and then add the liquids. For applications where an emulsion is desired, it is recommended to disperse the citrus fibre in oil, before adding the other liquids and shearing to form a stable emulsion.

While high shear is not necessary, it can help accelerate hydration and emulsification. In intermediate moisture foods, additions of small amounts of water may be needed to prevent the citrus fibre from outcompeting other ingredients for water, thus avoiding corresponding textural defects.

Nutritional and functional ingredients for healthy snacks and baked goods (Snackfood & Wholesale Bakery)

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Nutritional and functional ingredients for healthy snacks and baked goods 

(Maxine Weber)
The idea of “better for you” encompasses much of what consumers desire today in many of their snacks and baked goods: clean label, non-GMO, natural and—at its core—solid nutrition to make those foods a healthy part of their daily diet.
But the details are often a moving target. “According to Technomic,” notes Mary LaGuardia, marketing manager, Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, “51 percent of consumers 18–34 say their definition of health has changed in the past two years.”

A holistic approach

Every aspect of the food matrix must come under scrutiny. “Fats and oils are 20-30 percent of a typical baked good or fried snack, so if we can improve the nutrition of the oil in snack foods, we can help consumers meet their health goals,” says LaGuardia. Dow AgroSciences has used its plant science expertise to breed a better sunflower seed oil profile. “When it becomes commercially available, Omega-9 Sunflower Oil will have the first saturated-fat-free label claim, along with the highest levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats among cooking oils.”

Ricardo Rodriguez, marketing manager, Ingredion, Bridgewater, NJ, admits that it’s hard to interpret what exactly is meant by “better-for-you” food, and this has led to a lot of confusion among consumers. “We know that our customers are asking us for simpler ingredient solutions, such as alternatives to complicated ingredient labels.”

Rodriguez also noted that the 2017 “Food & Health Survey” by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) asked consumers how they defined a healthy food, and nearly 60 percent responded “high in healthy components and nutrients.”

In a study conducted by Ingredion, 79 percent of consumers found it important to recognize product ingredients, and 67 percent found it important to have a short, simple ingredient list, notes Rodriguez.

These demands pose challenges. “There are definitely technical challenges that arise when manufacturers look to clean up their labels and remove a variety of traditional ingredients,” says David Guilfoyle, group manager, DuPont Nutrition & Health, St. Louis. “Not all clean solutions are the same, nor should they be, so identifying the right partner with the right tools and the right expertise to navigate this trend is crucial.”

Clean-label or not, a product must perform to expectations. “Clean-label products must be able to demonstrate performance that matches or exceeds traditional ingredients,” says Matt Patrick, head of research, development and technical services, Delavau Food Partners, Philadelphia. “Our Encore line of products yield bread, doughnuts, rolls and other baked goods that look and taste as good—or ?better—than their conventional counterparts.”

Guilfoyle notes that enzyme systems can go a long way toward achieving better-for-you goals: “We have a wide range of enzymes that address softening, strengthening and dough conditioning. Enzymes are an excellent way to address clean label, but often need other ingredients to address all the functionality required in today’s products. DuPont also offers lecithin, antioxidants and antimicrobial options that can be well received among those looking to address clean label.”

Organic is also on the rise. Solvaira Specialties, Tonawanda, NY, has developed a certified-organic batch pack blend for tortillas, notes Colleen Was, sales coordinator.

Nutritional, clean-label snacks and baked goods also often need help when it comes to extending shelf life. A&B Ingredients, Fairfield, NJ, introduced CytoGuard CDP for just this purpose, notes Joe O’Neill, VP sales and development. CytoGuard CDP is a natural, clean-label shelf-life protection ingredient based on fermented dextrose. “CytoGuard CDP is specifically designed as an extremely cost-effective mold inhibitor and shelf-life extender, primarily focused to prevent mold in low-moisture systems,” he says. “However, it is also effective as part of a natural shelf-life solution for higher-moisture food products.”

Going with the grain

“From our experience, fiber-fortified, protein-enriched and reduced-calorie foods are high on the list of applications and product formats related to the better-for-you trend,” says Steve Pickman, public relations manager at MGP Ingredients, Atchison, KS.

“At the 2017 IFT, we launched our clean label Arise 8100 and Arise 8200 wheat protein isolates,” says Ody Maningat, Ph.D., vice president of R&D and chief science officer, MGP. “These two products are Non-GMO Project Verified and do not contain sulfites.” They also help decrease dough mixing time and improve handling. “One of the functions these two ingredients provide is the total replacement in bread products of DATEM and SSL.”

Whole and ancient grains can add significant nutrition to snacks and baked goods. Zachery Sanders, director of marketing, Ardent Mills, Denver, suggests popped or flaked quinoa, barley or even sorghum to boost nutrition in anything from trail mixes to snack crackers. “These grains offer fiber, which when combined with protein, can complement one another in terms of digestion. Our new Nature’s Color Barley line is another means to deliver not only whole-grain nutrition, but unique color and flavor to snack bars and other baked goods.” It’s available in three color varieties, Black Jack, True Blue and Pure Purple, and in seed, flour and flake forms. It also maintains a clean ingredient statement.

Protein power

According to Orlaigh Matthews, strategic marketing manager, Kerry, Beloit, WI, the plant protein market is growing quickly and expected to continue to grow, with a projected value of $14 billion by 2022 (Mordor Intelligence, 2017). She attributes the growth to four consumer drivers: growing interest in health and wellness, a rise in food allergies and intolerances, concern over sustainability, and a growing demand for clean-label solutions.

“Pea protein is one of the hottest ingredients,” says Chris Quevedo, senior product manager, Batory Foods, Des Plaines, IL—but managing flavor can be an issue. “The pea protein we carry has one of the cleanest flavor profiles.” That means a decreased need for masking.

“Pulses add the nutritional benefits of protein and fiber that address the consumer need for protein and fiber-rich, clean-label products,” says Rodriguez. “Ingredion offers a range of pulse-based ingredients, including peas, lentils, fava beans and chickpeas. Just launched this year are PRECISA Crisps, a series of snack texturizers. These allow manufacturer to create baked snacks with enhanced textures, optimal expansion and reduced breakage.” The line offers a range of textures.

“It can be a struggle to get a formula that meets a customer’s protein goal yet delivers on critical functional benefits,” says Bill Gilbert, principal food technologist, Cargill, Minneapolis. “For example, proteins tend to hydrate and compete for water, increasing the bulk density of puffed cereals, snacks and baked products. All proteins have different water-absorption rates, and we have done extensive testing with a wide range of protein types and blends. We’ve learned how to keep the rheology the same so that formulators don’t have to dramatically change the amount of water in their formula.”

Although coconut and almond flours help create grain-free, high-protein foods, a 1:1 replacement will not always yield a desirable texture. These alternative flours can be tricky to work with, as neither has much binding power, notes Nesha Zalesny, technical sales manager, Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, WI. “Baked goods with these ingredients tend to shatter after baking, or the products dry out quickly.” Citri-Fi natural citrus fiber can improve texture and quality. “Due to this natural fiber’s high water-holding power, products using non-traditional flours retain moisture, which improves the quality over the shelf life of the product.”

Another ingredient gaining traction is rice protein. According to David Janow, CEO and president, Axiom Foods, Los Angeles, a double-blind study found that rice protein is as effective for building and maintaining muscle as animal-based whey protein. The company’s Oryzatein brown rice protein is extracted using a natural, non-hexane process. “Oryzatein meets the most-stringent quality guidelines from how it’s sourced and naturally manufactured to multi-level testing to ensure safety,” he says. It’s also allergen-free.

Since proteins vary in amino acid content, FDA has adopted the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score system (PDCAAS) to compare, among other factors, essential amino acid content, on a scale from 0 to 1. Kerry has developed ProDiem, an optimized blend of pea, rice and oat protein, to have a perfect PDCAAS score of 1. The line is intended for use in bars and baked goods, among other applications, notes Matthews. “We also use a proprietary processing technique and our flavor masking technology to improve the texture and reduce the off-notes traditionally associated with plant proteins.”

Completing the nutritional puzzle

The U.S. consumer is now more aware of probiotics as a functional ingredient. Michael Bush, president and CEO, Ganeden, Mayfield Heights, OH, sees consumers wanting to take a proactive versus reactive approach to health, with a larger focus on the health of the products and ingredients they are consuming. “Functional snack and bakery items allow consumers to get the health benefits they’re looking for in products they consume daily, even when on the go,” he says.

As most formulators know, the survivability of probiotics in certain applications presents a challenge. Bush explains that Ganeden has introduced GanedenBC30, a patented, spore-forming probiotic that is shelf stable and can be used in snacks and baked goods. “The fortification of snacks and bakery products is only possible due to the development of shelf-stable strains like GanedenBC30, which are able to withstand manufacturing processes, shelf life and gastric transit. These newer, patented strains have opened up endless opportunities for probiotics.”

Many consumers are also increasingly aware of the sugar content of their foods. In the 2017 IFIC “Food & Health Survey,” 76 percent of survey respondents said they were trying to limit or avoid sugars in general, notes Pam Stauffer, global marketing programs manager, Cargill. “The new label changes to the Nutrition Facts panels will put calories in larger, bold font and call out added sugar content.”

To meet reduced-sugar demands, Cargill offers ViaTech stevia, as well as Zerose erythritol. “Erythritol is a natural, zero-calorie bulk sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar,” says Stauffer. “It masks the aftertaste of high-intensity sweeteners and offers significant advantages over other polyols, including a higher digestive tolerance. Our team has had success in reducing sugar up to 50 percent in cookies, cereals and sweet snacks by using ViaTech stevia and Zerose erythritol.”

We’ve reached the point where truly nutritional, better-for-you, clean-label foods are a primary pathway toward relevance with consumers. People will continue to “want it all,” and with the help of some clever nutritional and functional ingredients, the industry can continue to deliver.

Stabilizer Options for Dairy Formulations (Food Business New)

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(Donna Berry)

CHICAGO — Sedimentation, separation, settling and syneresis are some of the many visual stability defects dairy foods may encounter if they are not properly formulated to withstand the rigors of processing and distribution. Unstable systems also reveal themselves through mouthfeel. Expelled water may freeze and form ice crystals in ice cream. Proteins may aggregate around water and form a slimy gel. Milk minerals may interact with other ingredients, producing grittiness.

“Oftentimes a product’s shelf life is determined by physical qualities ahead of product safety defects,” said Donna Klockeman, senior principal food scientist with TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md., a business unit of Ingredion, Inc. “This is to say that when a product’s appearance begins to deteriorate, it is generally before the product is unsafe to eat.”

Thus, stabilizing ingredients prevent product waste by thwarting premature discard of product because of undesirable appearance or mouthfeel. They keep the dairy system in place, or stabilized, through the binding of water. Depending on the product and its composition, moisture management may prevent undesirable ingredient interactions. In other instances, it may keep ingredients in solution. This includes preventing the color of fruit prep from bleeding into the white mass in layered yogurt as well as keeping cocoa particles dispersed in chocolate milk.

Dairy foods stabilizers are either polysaccharides, such as gums, fibers and starches, or proteins, such as whey and gelatin. The presence of hydroxyl (-OH) groups may increase their affinity for binding water molecules, rendering them hydrophilic compounds. In doing so, they produce a dispersion, which is intermediate between a true solution and a suspension. For this reason, they are characterized as hydrocolloids, where the prefix “hydro” means water and “colloid” means a gelatinous substance, inferring that they bind water. Often, blends of hydrocolloids work synergistically to best achieve stability goals in dairy foods.

Thickening and gelling

Hydrocolloids vary in functionality and long-term performance. They disperse in water, and in doing so, thicken the system. The extent of thickening varies by the type of hydrocolloid, its concentration, the food matrix, the pH of the food system and temperature.

Many also form gels. This involves the cross-linking of polymer chains to form a three-dimensional network that traps water within to form a rigid structure that is resistant to flow.

Not all gels are created equal, which is why hydrocolloid use varies by desired end results. For example, some gels, when part of a dairy foods matrix, are chewy while others are creamy. Some may be spreadable while others are brittle. Some will contribute opacity and others remain clear.

Gelatin has long been used to bring a melt-in-your-mouth sensation to yogurt.
Some hydrocolloids form thermoreversible gels, where gelation occurs after the hydrocolloid dissolves in solution and is cooled. When heat is applied, the gel melts or dissolves. This is best exemplified by gelatin dessert, which melts in the mouth at body temperature. Gelation temperature and melting point vary by hydrocolloid.

Other hydrocolloids form non-thermoreversible gels, also called thermally irreversible gels, and will not liquefy when heated. They may soften or shrink, which also is referred to as retrograde. In other words, the gel remains mostly intact once formed.

In dairy foods, the challenge lies in finding the right balance between the different thickening properties and gelling characteristics. The goal is to bind moisture while delivering desirable mouthfeel and texture.

“Overly stabilized dairy products can be pasty and starchy in the mouth and mask flavors,” said Nesha Zalesny, technical sales manager, Fiberstar Inc., River Falls, Wis. “For yogurts, this means less of that tart bite than is expected.

“Another example is with chocolate ice cream. A good texture will give a clean flavor release while still contributing to the melt characteristics. You want the ice cream to taste like chocolate but also not melt all over the place during the eating experience or develop large ice crystals a day after the carton is opened.”

Selecting the right ingredient

Dairy foods systems often rely on custom ingredient blends to achieve the best stability. There are a number of hydrocolloids that are often part of the blends. For example, xanthan gum, which is produced by microbial fermentation, is a non-gelling hydrocolloid. It hydrates rapidly in cold water to give a reliable viscosity, with a little going a long way. Its consistent water-holding ability makes it an effective tool for controlling syneresis. When used in combination with carrageenan, xanthan contributes synergistically to the formation of a thermoreversible gel, meaning that less carrageenan is required to form the gel.

Xanthan also is often used with locust bean gum, also known as carob bean gum, as it is extracted from the seeds of the carob tree. Dependent upon ratios and application, this synergy produces a range of viscosities and gelling characteristics. It often is used in yogurts. By simply changing the usage rate and ratio, the same yogurt base may be made into a range of varying textures and mouthfeels, from thick and indulgent, to light, almost mousse-like.

Guar gum, also obtained from plant seeds, has an extremely high water-binding capacity, making it useful in cultured dairy applications, such as sour cream and cottage cheese, where standing water is undesirable. It disperses and swells almost completely in cold water to form a highly viscous solution. Like xanthan, it is not self-gelling.

In general, native starches form non-thermoreversible gels and will retrograde over time, which results in syneresis. Hence, historically chemically modified food starches have been used to bind moisture in dairy products, as modification adds stability and resistance to retrogradation and syneresis. With the trend toward cleaner labeling, product formulators are revisiting the use of native starches, in particular those that have been physically modified for improved functionality, as well as fiber food ingredients.

“We offer an all-natural, clean label functional fiber product line derived from orange pulp that can deliver similar functionalities as hydrocolloids in dairy applications with the ability to provide a clean nutritional label,” Ms. Zalesny said. “These functionalities include thickening, emulsifying stabilization, reduced syneresis and fat reduction.”

Gelatin long has been used to provide a melt-in-your-mouth sensation to yogurt, especially in low-fat and nonfat yogurts that lack the creaminess of milkfat. Gelatin is able to absorb 5 to 10 times its weight in cold water. Specifically, with yogurt, gelatin prevents whey from being expelled from the casein gel. This is because the gelatin molecules form a lattice in the casein gel during the gelling process that gets stabilized by hydrogen bonding.

Premium Ingredients, Murcia, Spain, recently introduced a stabilizer system based on dairy proteins that is designed for the production of Greek-style yogurt and Petit-suisse. It was developed with the goal of optimizing the final product in terms of cost, texture, level of protein and syneresis control. The stabilizer blend’s composition, which maintains a casein and whey protein ratio identical to milk, allows its use in a range of fermented dairy products. It ensures a rich and creamy texture, as well as optimal body and mouthfeel.

The system relies on recombination technology, as it produces fermented dairy products without whey drainage, thus obtaining 100% yield. Manufacturers also avoid the costs associated with managing byproducts such as the whey that must be discarded during strained yogurt production.

With frozen desserts, hydrocolloids have a dual function. First, they aid in suspension and help provide emulsion stability to the mix. Then, when the mix gets processed to a frozen state, the hydrocolloids reduce iciness, prevent the development of a coarse texture and bind water during heat-shock cycles.

Gums and starches often are used in ice cream; however, there’s a growing trend to using specialty dairy proteins. The proteins not only bind water to improve product quality, they also boost the nutrition profile.

In the past few years, there’s been a surge of innovation in low-sugar, high-protein ice cream products. The products are packaged in single-serving formats and competing for share of the snacking dollar.

Such systems present a number of stabilizing challenges, mainly from the reduction of sugar solids, which impact freezing temperature. The final product tends to be rock hard. A slight thaw makes it easier to scoop and ice crystals form when it’s returned to the freezer.

“Manufacturers we’ve spoken with say their biggest challenge is coming up with a recipe that yields the desired nutritionals, yet still tastes excellent and also has the right mouthfeel and creamy texture of traditional ice cream,” said Thom King, president and chief executive officer, Steviva Ingredients, Gresham, Ore. “So, we created a low-sugar, high-protein dry mix that gives dairy producers a plug-in solution to take the guesswork out of creating a superior product with fewer than 80 calories per serving.”

The company’s proprietary blend is based on monk fruit extract, stevia, erythritol, milk protein concentrate and hydrocolloids. It enables manufacturers to create a home-style ice cream with a short ingredient list that yields 5 grams of protein and 8 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

Specialty dairy proteins, both casein and whey, are being explored by processors in all dairy applications for their ability to increase protein content while stabilizing systems. This is particularly true in beverages, including refuel milks and meal replacement beverages. An issue that such ready-to-drink dairy protein beverage processors may encounter is age gelation.

“One common quality defect that can severely reduce a protein drink’s shelf life is the tendency of the protein to form an irreversible gel over time,” Ms. Klockeman said. “Product developers are challenged with providing sufficient suspension of the dairy proteins while extending the shelf life of the beverage without the formation of protein gels.

“Some beverage manufacturers report a maximum shelf life of only three months with traditional stabilizers, while our hydrocolloid designed specifically for this purpose enables beverages to remain stable with no signs of age gelation for more than six months.”

In other dairy beverages, most notably chocolate milk, carrageenan long has been the hydrocolloid of choice as it provides optimal suspension of cocoa particles. This is paramount for chocolate milk packaged in clear bottles as the carrageenan prevents solids from separating and settling to the bottom of the container.

Gellan gum is another option. It forms an adjustable gel that aids in suspension and prevention of separation of cocoa particles.

Moisture Musts (Meat & Poultry)

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Moisture Musts (Meat & Poultry)
(Donna Berry)

Juicing is the trendy approach for today’s consumers to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. It’s also slang for a method of making meat and poultry more delicious by increasing succulence through the addition of moisture.

The more appropriate term for juicing up meat and poultry is “enhancement.” This is when fresh, whole muscle is enhanced with a solution of water and other ingredients, including flavorings and preservatives, as well as ingredients to assist with binding the moisture in the muscle. Enhanced meats also include comminuted, encased products, such as sausages and luncheon meats, and ground, formed products, such as meatballs and chicken nuggets.

“Raw ground products will have small amounts of water added to aid in dispersion of non-meat ingredients (e.g., salt and spices) and to decrease viscosity of the mix to improve pumping and forming, as well as improve yields and juiciness,” says Austin Lowder, applications scientist, DuPont Nutrition & Health, St. Louis. “The water is simply added to the ground meat during a mixing step or during chopping.”

Adding water to whole muscle items is accomplished by one of three methods. The traditional approach is to submerse the meat in brine.

“This is time and space intensive and not seen in modern meat processing,” Lowder says. “Tumbling the product with the solution, often under vacuum, is appropriate for smaller items such as chicken breasts. A third option is injection by pressurizing the solution through needles directly into the muscle. This is useful for larger items, such as roast beef, which do not allow for a thorough or consistent diffusion of solution by soaking or tumbling.”

Enhancing whole muscle prior to cooking not only increases succulence and adds flavor, it provides the chef or home cook with some leeway in terms of overcooking and potentially drying the meat. This is particularly true for pork and poultry, which many consumers tend to overcook for food safety reasons.

“Cooking naturally drives off moisture from the protein and reduces the juiciness of the finished product,” says Dan Putnam, technical manager, Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine, Iowa. “Adding moisture and enhancing the protein’s ability to retain that moisture ultimately makes a more consumer-friendly product, especially with leaner meats.”

Binding moisture in whole muscle also assists with reducing purge, the liquid that accumulates in the bottom of the package during display. Consumers typically find purge to be unappealing, as it looks like the animal’s blood. This has some retailers discarding product before its expiration date, resulting in financial loss.

Further, from an economic perspective, moisture enhancement increases yield. After all, water is a very inexpensive ingredient. With that added water, processors can also add ingredients to assist with retaining color, slowing lipid oxidation and reducing microbial growth. This extends shelf life and improves safety, with longer expiration dates translating to reduced waste and happier customers.

Ingredient 2
Flavors and seasonings can be added to chops and steaks through a simple tumble marination. The moisture penetrates the muscle, which prevents the meat from burning and drying when grilled.

Regulations and guidelines

Juicing up meat comes with some federal guidelines and limitations. This is in terms of both how much moisture can be added to the product, how addition is declared and the addition of ingredients to assist or complement the added moisture.

“One example is the limit of 3 percent added water to fresh sausage,” says Patrick Hosch, applications research manager, Essentia Protein Solutions, Ankeny, Iowa. “Cooked sausages are limited to 10 percent added water. Bacon is usually injected with a brine then smoked and heat treated. By rule, bacon must lose the added weight of brine and be back to its original weight prior to sale. Products like roast beef or fresh pork loin may claim that a certain percentage of a solution is included at the time of sale.”

Regarding declaration of the enhancement, the US Dept. of Agriculture published a rule in 2011 requiring enhanced product to declare on package labels that percentage of added solution. This rule went into effect in 2014.

“The legal limits of moisture and ingredient addition vary by product,” Putnam says. “Some are regulated by protein content of the cooked product (controlling the protein content dilution by the additional moisture), some by yield of cooked versus uncooked product, and some only by the amount of binder allowed to hold the added moisture, which itself becomes limited by the ability of the meat and binder to hold the added moisture.”

Jim Anderson, regional market segment lead, North America-meat, poultry and seafood, ICL Food Specialties, St. Louis, says, “Phosphates are arguably the most effective functional ingredient for moisture retention in the meat and poultry arena.”

Their usage level is quite low, often less than 0.5 percent of the formula weight. That little amount goes a long way in terms of increasing yield and improving economics.

“Sodium and potassium phosphates modify pH,” says Barbara Heidolph, director technology, Innophos Inc., Cranbury, New Jersey. “They directly interact with the muscle, specifically with the myofibrillar proteins, to dissociate the acto-mysosin complex cross-bridges.”

This unravels the protein structure, opening charged sites for water to bind.

“Phosphates also interact synergistically with salt to create a net negative charge, which by electrostatic repulsion, drives away the already dissociated actin and myosin,” Heidolph says. “This effect creates more charged sites for water to bind. This action improves the succulence and savory characteristics of meat and poultry products.

“Neutral and acidic phosphates also act as cure color enhancers. Acidic salts used at a very low amount have a negative impact on the water-holding capacity of the muscle. A more alkaline phosphate generally raises the pH 0.2 to 0.3 pH units away from the meat’s isoelectric point, around 5.2. Increasing the meat pH away from the isoelectric point consequently increases the muscles water-holding capacity.”

Ingredient 2
Enhancing pork loins prior to cooking not only increases succulence and adds flavor, it provides the chef or home cook with some leeway in terms of overcooking and potentially drying out the meat.

Moisture enhancement

In addition to phosphates, processors have a plethora of water-binding ingredients to assist with moisture enhancement. Some work synergistically with phosphates, while others work solo. Some provide additional benefits.

For example, Corbion, Lenexa, Kansas, offers antimicrobial label-friendly ingredients that increase water-binding properties. They help processors control Listeria while improving cook yield, reducing purge and improving texture.

“One of our vinegar-based solutions has been shown to increase cook yield by 4.4 percent in natural turkey breast,” says Tom Rourke, senior business development manager for Corbion. “It has also been tested in injected natural ham where it increased yield by 9 percent.”

Essentia Protein Solutions offers functional stocks and broths from beef, chicken, pork and turkey. They are unique because unlike traditional stocks, they produce a moisture and heat activated cold-setting gel.

“These proteins absorb and bind water by creating a gel in meat and poultry systems. This gel decreases purge and enhances texture, thus improving slicing,” Hosch says. “They work very well as phosphate alternatives in clean-label products since they can be labeled as ‘[species] broth’ or ‘stock, natural flavors.’”

Grain Processing offers a range of ingredients to enhance moisture in meat. This includes modified food starch, corn syrup solids and maltodextrins.

“Modified food starch is considered a binder, and as such, its addition may require disclosure contiguous to the product name on meats where binders are not typically included in the formulation,” Putnam says. “Properly selected modified starches hold moisture through processing, in both refrigerated and frozen storage.

“Corn syrup solids and maltodextrins, although not binders by function, add non-meat solids,” he says. “When contained within a meat protein matrix, they help reduce moisture loss that occurs from heat denaturation and coagulation of the proteins during processing.”

Beneo, Morris Plains, New Jersey, offers a pure white rice starch that works especially well in poultry for enhancement. It delivers a clean look with no pinking.

Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Illinois, is introducing a potato-based functional native starch for processed meats, chicken nuggets and heat-and-eat meats. The starch improves yield up to 20 percent, while providing a firmer, juicier texture.

Ingredient 3
Ground products include water in the protein matrix to aid in dispersion of salt and spices, to decrease viscosity of the mix to improve pumping and forming and to improve yields and juiciness.

Clean label options

“For cost-sensitive applications, delivering the firmness, chew and, importantly, the flavor that consumers love in meats, has long proved a significant challenge for formulators,” says Davy Luyten, marketing manager. “Our new clean-label texturizer is an affordable way to improve processability and increase yields while maintaining the meaty taste, structure and texture consumers want.”

Fiberstar Inc., River Falls, Wisconsin, offers a natural citrus fiber created from pulp using a patented physical process that increases the surface area. This surface area provides high-water holding capacity and natural emulsification properties that are needed in processed meat products.

“It can be used for brine injection of whole muscle products,” says Nesha Zalesny, technical sales manager. “It can be used in conjunction with a phosphate salt, at a reduced level, to lower the sodium content of the meat.

“Using this natural fiber will decrease drip loss and increase cook yield and result in a juicier finished product,” Zalesny says. “For formulators looking for clean-label brine injection solutions, this natural ingredient can be combined with starch to replace phosphate in brine-injected poultry. Native rice starch is typically recommended due to its small granular size and clean-label perception.”

Because this citrus fiber functions as an emulsifier, it can assist with keeping fat-soluble ingredients, such as rosemary extract (a natural antioxidant) dispersed in the solution. In a brine, this means there will not be a ring of rosemary oil at the top of the brine tank.

Tomato-derived fiber products have also been shown to deliver natural succulence to prepared meats. “Our tomato fiber has good water-binding properties and can give meat enhanced texture, mouthfeel, juiciness and bite,” says Christiane Lippert, head of marketing-food, Lycored, Switzerland. “Dry tomato pulp is another natural way to deliver succulence, as well as an appealing pink color.”

DuPont Nutrition & Health offers a range of soy protein isolates and concentrates for ground products and brine injected, whole muscle products.

“Textured concentrates mimic the grain and consistency of ground meat, while improving water-holding capacity,” Lowder says. “Soy protein has been an effective non-meat ingredient in this arena for many years, improving cook/chill and freeze/thaw yields, firming products for sliceability, and improving juiciness and maintaining sensory quality when subjected to abusive cooking processes, like retort cooking, or long hold times under heat lamps.”

Minneapolis-based Cargill offers modified food starches, native starches, carrageenan and other water-binding ingredients. This includes lean meat replacement options, such as textured soy proteins and functional pea proteins.

“These non-meat proteins help with moisture retention over lean meat and mimic the eating texture of a ground meat particle,” says Tom Katen, technical service representative. “School lunch and institutional programs depend on these affordable proteins to deliver cooked meat and vegetable protein solutions.

“Almost all meat and poultry items benefit from added moisture,” he concludes.

Finding the Best Replacement for Eggs (Baking Business)

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Finding the Best Replacement for Eggs

(Donna Berry)

Many baked goods rely on proteins to develop structure and height. For simple products such as bread and buns, the gluten from wheat typically suffices. Sweet goods, on the other hand, contain heavy ingredients such as sugar, shortening and inclusions like chocolate, fruit and nuts. This is too much for a gluten matrix to handle on its own, and that’s where egg proteins enter the equation.

“Eggs are a very complex source of fats and proteins that can be used in hundreds of applications,” said Mindi McKibbin, director of research and development, Rembrandt Enterprises, Inc.

Egg products are dried, frozen or liquid forms of whole eggs, whites only or yolks only. Sometimes these formats include additional ingredients to improve functionality, expand applications or even provide cost savings.

Eggs also provide more than 20 desirable functions ranging from foaming to ingredient binding to thickening. No single replacement ingredient can perform all the same functions as eggs.

“Besides for nutritive value, egg ingredients provide important functional properties to baked goods,” said Bill Gilbert, principal food technologist, Cargill. “It’s impossible to replace eggs with any single ingredient and still provide similar nutrition and function. Yet, some bakers prefer formulating vegan and seek out replacers. Economics is also another consideration.”

The good news for bakers is that the egg supply currently is abundant and pricing attractive. This is also true for cage-free eggs, where players in the natural foods space tend to gravitate.

That said, there are real reasons why bakers might prefer egg replacers or at least have formulations on hand that replace some or all eggs with other functional ingredients. One reason for replacing eggs is to remove a common allergen from the recipe. Another is that eggs and egg products have had numerous supply and demand challenges over the years, and it’s always better to be prepared than be scrambling.

Eggs can impart richer flavor and softer texture to artisan breads and are a challenge to replace in these formulations.

First came the egg

Traditionally formulated baked foods, especially sweet goods, rely on eggs for a long list of sensory attributes. This has been shown in an extensive body of research recently conducted by independent third-party firm CuliNex L.L.C.

The research details both the analytical and slightly more subjective sensory results of experiments comparing eggs with egg replacers in a variety of applications. Most, if not all, of the applications tested relied on the functionality of eggs or egg replacers for appearance, texture, mouthfeel and taste. Certain pie fillings, for example, need eggs or egg replacers with similar functionality for optimal eating quality. The changes to pie fillings with reduced egg content were noticeable, according to the researchers.

Angel food cake is another example. This highly aerated product obtains its color, rise, texture and flavor from eggs. When they are removed or replaced in angel food cake, the batter’s specific gravity, appearance, height and flavor are negatively affected, according to the study.

CuliNex tested baked goods, including sponge cake, yellow batter cake, muffins, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, brownies, sweet dough and frozen waffles, all of which rely on eggs for similar characteristics.

Elisa Maloberti, director of egg product marketing, American Egg Board, said some types of applications rely more on eggs than others.

“When a product relies upon a higher percentage of eggs for its functional and organoleptic characteristics, it will suffer a greater impact when eggs are removed,” she said.

In cheesecake, for example, the standard is 12.5% whole eggs, Ms. Maloberti said. For sugar cookies, it’s about 3.8%.

“When the research team tested eggs versus various replacement products in cheesecake,” she said, “they reported that ‘except for water activity, all areas of cake quality were negatively affected, especially flavor and texture.’”

With sugar cookies, when eggs were replaced or removed the difference was recorded as “slight but noticeable,” the study, sponsored by the American Egg Board, found. Areas most negatively affected in sugar cookies included the color/appearance, aroma, flavor and texture.

“Consistently throughout most of the study, researchers found that tasters unanimously preferred the control, or gold standard formula made with eggs, to the test formulas,” Ms. Maloberti said.

Some bakers do use eggs in artisan and specialty bread formulas, as they contribute to a richer flavor and softer texture. Use is, however, usually cost-prohibitive due to price fluctuations in standard white pan bread and buns.

Some of the physical functions eggs perform in baked goods are aeration, binding, emulsifying and dough strengthening. They also assist with maintaining moistness and, thereby, extend shelf life. Depending on the egg ingredient used, color and flavor also may be influenced. When identifying a replacer, it is critical to know what functions the ingredient must perform.

Eggs can impart richer flavor and softer texture to artisan breads and are a challenge to replace in these formulations.

Cracking egg chemistry

The egg yolk and white contribute very different characteristics to baked goods, and understanding how they work is key to finding potential replacers.

“The egg white is the main component in strengthening, as it contains a majority of the protein in the egg,” said David Guilfoyle, group manager bakery, fats and oils, DuPont Nutrition & Health.

Albumin is the egg white’s primary protein source, and upon heating, the albumin structure denatures to create a special gel strength that most other proteins do not have. This strength is important, especially in cakes, as the batter is heated, the volume increases, and the aerated albumin gel structure begins to denature and the leavened structure is set.

“Potato isolate protein and milk whey without lactose are two ingredients that have nearly similar gel strength to egg,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “Other proteins set too quickly, creating a dense structure, or begin to collapse due to the weight of the ingredients in the formulation before the structure can be set.”

Eggs whites are also the powerhouse behind aeration, or creating foams. As the egg white is whipped, air gets trapped within the albumin, which stretches out with protein-coated air cells that become stable enough to hold the heavy ingredients.

“As the foam is heated, the protein-coated air cells expand and the structure lifts, and upon reaching a certain temperature, the foam structure sets and holds the bound ingredients in place,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “We offer various hydrocolloids that can aerate similarly to egg whites.”

The egg yolk contains the emulsifier component lecithin, which allows water and oil to become miscible, creating either an oil-in-water or water-in-oil emulsification. If this is the function that needs replacing, it is possible to source lecithin from plants such as soybean or sunflower.

“They are all equally as functional as the lecithin from egg,” Mr. Guilfoyle said.

Natural Products, Inc., manufactures soy-based egg and milk replacement systems, which tend to be hydrophilic, even more so than eggs. Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager, Natural Products, said the company’s egg replacers are formulated to replace whole egg powder at a 1:1 ratio.

“However, because the soy tends to bind so much water, it is not uncommon for our customers to find they need to reduce our product slightly, versus the quantity of eggs that were being used, to avoid having to add more water to their formulation,” Mr. Stratford said. “On the other hand, in some cases, it might be an advantage to add a bit more water, as that can improve the shelf life of fresh-baked products.”

The water-binding attribute dictates the most suitable applications.

“Our egg replacers also provide emulsification,” Mr. Stratford said. “Applications where eggs mainly provide emulsification tend to work best with our egg replacers.”

Egg replacers can affect the moisture content of products, offering several advantages including shelf life.

Hatching a replacement plan

In real-world applications, the allergenic nature of egg and dairy ingredients can be a hurdle for some manufacturers according to a story about a hamburger bun as told by Mr. Guilfoyle.

“At the time, brioche was coming in as a ‘new’ style of bread, and the restaurant chain wanted to have a signature bun that was brioche-style,” Mr. Guilfoyle explained. “Brioche is high in egg and dairy [butter and milk] and very expensive. The various high-speed bakeries supporting the restaurant chain refused to put any formula in their production that contained the egg and dairy allergens. This created some issues.”

Understanding the functionality of eggs and dairy in bread, Mr. Guilfoyle was able to reformulate with ingredients that provided the mouthfeel and flavor of a brioche-style bun without using the eggs or dairy products. Alginates provided the mouthfeel component, and they also gave the finished baked crumb structure strength to hold up to the heavily loaded burger and condiments. When alginates are added at 0.10% to 0.20% (baker’s per cent), they provide strength and volume to baked goods.

Artisan bread varieties are some of the more challenging products in which to replace eggs.

“It’s easiest to find solutions for products like cookies, pancakes and muffins, where eggs are less critical to the finished product,” Mr. Gilbert said. “In other product applications, where eggs are critical to functions like aeration and structure, Cargill has developed functional systems that mimic the different aspects of eggs.”

These functional systems may provide cost savings by replacing up to 50% of the eggs in the formula, often with little or no additional changes required. For example, modified starches mimic the processing and emulsifying properties of eggs, providing essential structure and texture in cookies, pancakes and muffins.

“Modified starch is especially suited for replacing up to 25% of liquid whole eggs in cakes and pound cakes, 50% in muffins, 50% to 100% in pancakes, and 50% of egg solids in cookies,” Mr. Gilbert said. “Soy flour can be used to replace 25% of liquid whole eggs in muffins, and 25% to 50% in both cookies and pancakes. Soy flour helps maintain moisture and acts as a fat mimetic.”

Cargill works with bakers to create customized texturizing systems for egg replacement. In addition to modified starch and soy flour, other ingredients used in the systems include lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, potato protein and carrageenan.

Fiberstar, Inc. offers a citrus fiber with high pectin content that functions as an egg replacer. The added benefit is that it also contributes fiber to the formula. Kurt Villwock, director of R&D, Fiberstar, said citrus fiber contains both soluble (pectin) and insoluble fiber and is made using a patented process that opens the fiber structure to create high surface area.

“This fibrous composition tightly entraps and locks in water molecules and oil droplets, providing high-water holding and emulsification properties,” Mr. Villwock said.

Citrus fiber typically is used to extend eggs rather than fully replace them. It works best in muffins, layer cakes and cookies. Combined with other hydrocolloids, it can work synergistically to replace the whole egg in gluten-free muffins and cakes.

Addition of as little as 0.2% citrus fiber can compensate for the removal of eggs in a waffle or crepe. It is simply dry blended with the flour, and the product is dosed and cooked in the same manner as a conventional full-egg product.

“The nice thing about using citrus fiber in an egg replacement strategy is that it provides a nice mouthfeel that, in a mixture, complements other ingredients that might otherwise cause textural defects,” Mr. Villwock said. “Citrus fiber also increases the cohesiveness of doughs, which is beneficial for machinability.”

A number of citrus fibers serve as egg extenders on the market. They vary in the way they are processed and their final composition, which in turn influences functionality and labeling claims. Citrus fiber is perceived to be clean label and is acceptable in ingredient statements, especially in baked goods containing fruit bases.

Nigel Weston, vice-president, R&D, J&K Ingredients, said egg replacers allow bakers to control their ingredient costs over the long term.

“Eggs are currently very inexpensive, but traditionally they are amongst the most expensive ingredients in baked goods,” he said.

Cost savings, risk management and reliability of supply are some of the biggest benefits associated with egg replacers. In recent years, egg prices have been highly volatile. In 2014, albumen prices spiked to $17 per lb. One year later, the 2015 avian influenza crisis drove egg prices up to $20 per lb.

However, even in a stable price market, Mr. Gilbert said Cargill customers confirm that the savings associated with egg replacement solutions are significant. Bakers must weigh the functional benefits of eggs and the quality they impart on finished products vs. the potential cost savings in formulation.

Citrus, an All Natural Fibre Solution (Asia Pacific Food Industry)

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Citrus, an All Natural Fibre Solution (Asia Pacific Food Industry) 

We don’t like to admit it, but sometimes nature outsmarts us humans. Such is the case with citrus fibre, where the intact natural architecture of the fruit cells provides developers with multiple gainful functionalities. Clean label solutions need not be so difficult if one embraces the natural complexity. By Dr Kurt Villwock, director of product development, Fiberstar incorporated

Due to the broad definition of fibre as a substance that resists digestion by the upper human digestive system, a wide variety of fibres with different functionalities are available for use as ingredients. They can exist in purified form, like inulin or fructooligosaccharide (FOS), or be left in its natural botanical form, such as wheat bran or citrus fibre, or perhaps even partially purified.

They can be soluble or insoluble, and quite often they exist in that transition area of solubility known as a colloidal phase, like ?-glucan from oats and barley. Many pure fibre types are large polymers of sugars, such as guar gum or acacia, and some are substantially smaller such as resistant maltodextrins and fructans.

Fibre’s Health Benefits & Applications

The health benefits of fibre are multifold, but also vary somewhat based on the physio-chemical properties of the fibre, including both the composition and the structural form. Some acknowledged nutritional benefits include: promoting satiety, intestinal bulking, enhancing immune health by promoting growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that improve the health of the digestive lining, and increased bioavailability of micronutrients.

It is interesting that the natural form of a fibre impacts the way it is fermented in the gut. For example, resistant starches have plenty of exposure to amylases throughout the digestive track yet they avoid direct contact with the active sites of enzymes by making tight crystalline regions or by surrounding itself with a tight protein matrix.

Another example is pectin. Purified pectin is often reported to result in large amounts of acetate after fermentation in the gut, yet pectin-rich fruit pulps have a SCFA profile that often includes much more propionic and butyric acid.

Fibres are commonly used in various food products including but not limited to bakery, frozen foods, dairy, meats, sauces and beverages. In a beverage system, fibres are most commonly added to either boost the nutritional profile of the product, or to add texture, thickness or bulking to a beverage.

Even dissolved fibres like FOS can enhance the mouthfeel of a beverage to give it some body. Since many fibres are polymeric in nature, their properties are influenced by other beverage conditions such as the sugar content, salt content, acidity, available water, and presence of other fibres.

Going Beyond Cellulose—Citrus Fibre

Citrus fibre contains cellulose and hemicellulose in addition to the native pectin present in orange pulp. The cellulose and hemicellulose act as the backbone of the fibre. This structure forms a very cotton ball-like fibre with the pectin and cellulosics intertwined. This gives the fibre a unique mouthfeel.

The fibre drags across the tongue which can give a creamy texture to milky coffee beverages or with a larger grind size, can give a pulpy texture. The pulp extension can help formulators extend expensive fruit pulp without modifying or changing the mouthfeel of the beverage. It can also extend tomato solids in tomato-based sauces.

Conventional cellulose fibres more often come from dried grains and fibrous plants, which when compared to fruit fibres, often do not have the natural botanical architecture optimised for holding bulk water tightly.

As one might suspect from its name, citrus fibre itself is a good source of dietary fibre (comprising) 70-80 percent. It has been shown to be bifidogenic, meaning that it selectively promotes growth of health-associated Bifidobacterium at the expensive of less desirable bacteria species.

The quality of the citrus fibre depends somewhat on the source of the fibre material. Whole citrus fibre is taken as it is from the pulp or peel of a citrus fruit and is ideally not further processed beyond drying to a powder. Such citrus fibres are usually obtained from excess material in the juice industry and contribute to a very clean label.

This type of fibre has higher levels of soluble fibre, namely pectin. Some citrus fibre is generated from the process of purifying pectin as a separate ingredient so this type of citrus fibre has a much higher proportion of insoluble fibre, namely cellulose and hemicellulose.

Despite the high dietary fibre content, citrus fibre is rarely used at levels above one percent in food products. This is due to its high water holding capacity. High amounts of citrus fibre would eventually cause textural defects because it outcompetes many other ingredients for water.

Nonetheless, citrus fibre can be a valuable tool in high fibre foods and beverages as a complementary fibre that improves the palatability of the food by addressing common problems associated with health foods, such as lack of moistness and mouthfeel.

A Natural Solution With Many Benefits

Whole citrus fibre that has not been chemically modified or stripped of its pectin has many functional properties that make it a great tool for formulators. This fibre is comprised of natural pectin, cellulose and hemicellulose and some residual protein. This chemical make-up of the slightly hydrophobic pectin, plus the physical cellulose framed structure of the fibre, make it able to hold onto not only water, but fats and oil too.

When the particles have been roughened by mechanical input, citrus fibre becomes more porous with a greater surface area which, in turn, makes it a great oil and water binder. Therefore, if you have both oil and water on the same particle, you have succeeded in making a natural emulsion.

In the Asian market, there are emulsion beverages such as milk tea and coconut milk drinks. These will often use chemical emulsifiers such as DMG, and sometimes if there is no hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB), separation will occur after processing.

The strong water holding capacity of citrus fibre makes it a useful tool for preventing freeze/thaw damage to frozen food products. The robust cellulose scaffolding also makes it thermally stable; it will not thin out or break down at high temperatures. These properties make it a great addition to meat products to retain water and fat for juicier meatballs and sausages. They can also help with moisture retention of meat fillings in steamed buns or dim sum type products.

The emulsification and water binding properties also make it a great addition to baked goods where it will help delay staling defects and extend the soft fresh texture over a longer shelf-life. These properties also make it a great addition to sauces where emulsification is desired without the use of chemical emulsifiers.

Using Citrus Fibre In Fruit-Based & Dairy Applications

Due to its natural pectin content, citrus fibres can form gels in high acid, high brix applications like fruit preparations for yoghurt, bakery or spreads. Citrus fibre can replace or extend pectin where it is traditionally used.

Whole citrus fibre contains about 40 percent pectin, so in order to reach gelling conditions, one would need to use roughly twice as much citrus fibre as would be used with pure pectin. Despite this, the ingredient cost in use is often cheaper and arguably provides a cleaner label. The different grind sizes available can also permit the formulator to choose a fine or pulpy texture to suit the target application.

Citrus fibre can help control syneresis in cultured dairy products as well. Low levels of citrus fibre can add a creamy texture to yogurt products and help control syneresis in fresh cheeses such as cream cheese. Citrus fibre can increase yields and help manufacturers make the most of the water and fat in the system.

Working with whole citrus fibre is similar to working with other hydrocolloids. Dispersion and hydration are key to their functionality. For most applications, it is recommended to disperse citrus fibre with other dry ingredients and then add the liquids. For applications where an emulsion is desired, it is recommended to disperse the citrus fibre in oil, before adding the other liquids and shearing to form a stable emulsion.

While high shear is not necessary, it can help accelerate hydration and emulsification. In intermediate moisture foods, additions of small amounts of water may be needed to prevent the citrus fibre from outcompeting other ingredients for water, thus avoiding corresponding textural defects.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: Research Chemist, Scientist or Engineer Position

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Come Work for a Fast Growing, Global Food Ingredient Company!!!

Position:  Research Chemist, Scientist or Engineer Opportunity
Location:  River Falls, WI
R&D Chemist Job Description 2017

Company Brief:

Fiberstar, Inc. is a growing company that sells and manufactures functional clean label food ingredients and is looking for a R&D Chemist, Scientist, or Engineer to lead its new product development efforts. The employee will have responsibilities for ensuring the company meets its objectives for developing new product properties of citrus fiber based ingredients.  While the materials are citrus fibers based, they contain native pectin and have many functional properties, which is why experience working with hydrocolloids is beneficial. To accomplish the new product goals, the employee will need to perform research and work closely with team members to coordinate and work hands-on to facilitate research projects both in-house and work with research partners.  One of the key research partners will be the University of Minnesota. An advanced degree is preferred but not required and a preferred candidate will have 4+ years experience working with hydrocolloids and emulsifiers in a wide variety of food and beverage applications.  Great opportunity to develop new ingredients and to grow with a small company that is well-positioned for continued growth in the marketplace.  For more information on Fiberstar please visit our website at fiberstar.net.

Job Description:

  • Design experiments, research best practices, and develop a plan for new process testing.
  • Perform laboratory and pilot plant testing to develop process & measurement techniques for targeted properties. Work with team members on application testing with the new product properties.
  • Assist with scale-up and full-scale production equipment testing to transfer laboratory findings to pilot and full scale manufacturing.
  • Prepare of technical reports, written process guidelines, and presentations.
  • Work closely with engineering team to transfer knowledge and assist with scale-up and manufacturing.
  • Coordinates and/or attends weekly cross functional team meetings with R&D, Marketing personnel and others to discuss projects and associated timelines, goals and objectives.
  • Partner with Sales, Manufacturing, Operations and vendors to coordinate plant trial production processes and inclusive of scheduling and material (ingredients, packaging etc.) delivery logistics.
  • Travel to partner research facilities and attend live plant trials as needed.
  • Collaborates with Quality Assurance to ensure food safety, SQF and HACCP program requirements are met and to provide product specifications and other related information.
  • Learns the various manufacturing equipment capabilities associated with the processes for which products may be developed.
  • Maintains ongoing research and knowledge of technical service developments inclusive of potential opportunities for new products and new developments within the industry.
  • Partners with co-manufacturers and internal facilities to troubleshoot or optimize product formulations and production efficiencies.
  • Engages academia and trade associations (etc) to promote innovation from external resources.
  • Assist in regulatory affairs to obtain necessary approvals for products, and manage lab environmental, health, and safety reporting requirements.
  • Communicate technical results both verbally and written to team members, customers, and sales people. Assist in writing technical proposals, including grant proposals.

Preferred Qualifications:

Preferred candidates would have 4+ years work experience with a background working with hydrocolloids and emulsifiers.   BS, MS, or PhD in Chemistry, Food Science, Food Engineering, or similar.  Excellent written and verbal communication skills required.

In Return:

  • A base salary to commensurate with experience.
  • Benefits package – medical insurance, flex-plan, & 401(k)
  • Great opportunity to grow with a small company that is well-positioned for continued growth in the marketplace.

Contact:

Brock Lundberg, PhD, Email:  b.lundberg@fiberstar.net

State of the Industry 2017: Desserts still hit the sweet spot for consumers (Snackfood & Wholesale Bakery)

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(Melissa Kvidahl)

Datassential reports that nine out of 10 restaurants in America serve dessert, with the top five menu items being cake, ice cream, cheesecake, cookies  and pies (in that order). And while most demographics are either eating the same amount or decreasing their consumption of desserts, millennials are more likely to say they’re increasing their consumption.

When it comes to packaged options, restaurant trends are trickling down and impacting sales. “Research shows that consumers are most likely to try a new food trend in a restaurant and then look for a way to bring their experience home by shopping that trend at the grocery store,” explains Doon Wintz, president, Wholly Wholesome, Chester, NJ.

Market data

According to IRI, Chicago, sales of desserts at retail are healthy. The pies and cakes segment was up 5.3 percent for the 52 weeks ending March 19, 2017, hitting $1.9 billion. When broken into segments, cakes were up 4.4 percent to $1.5 billion, while dollar sales of pies climbed 8.2 percent to $442.5 million. Private label leads both segments by a wide margin.

In fact, the only segment where private label doesn’t have a strong top position is in frozen pies, where it holds the No. 4 spot.

According to the IRI data, more shoppers might be opting for fresh vs. frozen options. Frozen pie dollar sales dropped 3.20 percent to $516.0 million. The same pattern surfaced in cheesecakes, with frozen cheesecake sales dropping 12.83 percent to $123.0 million, while dollar sales of refrigerated cheesecakes increased 16.40 percent to $277.2 million.

Refrigerated cakes and pies is a minor segment, but both showed growth over the past year. Sales of refrigerated cakes grew 5.46 percent to reach $130.4 million. Dollar sales of refrigerated pies rose 4.90 percent to $31.5 million.

Wintz notes that some growth within the desserts category is in the better-for-you niche. “This includes organic, allergy-friendly, vegan, and/or low-sugar—particularly products that are naturally low in sugar, rather than those sweetened artificially,” he says.

Looking back

Though a traditionally decadent and indulgent category, desserts are not exempt from the clean label trend affecting nearly every facet of the food industry. Whether it’s nutrition or transparency, simple ingredients or gluten-free, clean label is one consumer demand that’s not going anywhere.

And that could be a challenge for some brands, says Kurt Villwock, director of research and development, Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, WI. “Depending on the customer’s clean label definition, it could mean using kitchen cupboard ingredients, reducing the number of ingredients in a statement, and/or removing allergenic components.” It could also mean reducing negatively perceived product aspects such as calories, saturated fat or added sugars to improve the dessert’s impact on health.

Villwock says that ingredient options for water-binding, thickening or emulsifying functionalities in desserts are diminishing as the definition of clean label gets more expansive and inclusive. In response, Fiberstar offers Citri-Fi, a line of natural citrus fibers that is a clean label alternative to pure pectin for jam and jelly fillings, and also provides high water-holding capacity and emulsification properties.

Eli’s Cheesecake Co. has a clean label for its No. 1 seller, Eli’s Original Plain Cheesecake, made with cultured cream cheese, cultured sour cream, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, butter, eggs and sugar. It has also introduced GMO-free ingredients into its portfolio, including those that appear in its Cookie Butter Cheesecake and miniature pies. Non-dairy cheesecakes appeal to the vegan or allergy-sensitive audience, and are made with tofu.

“There has been a continued movement to marry the concept of nutrition and foods that normally would not be associated with nutrition,” comments Wintz, “whether that means fortifying a dessert with antioxidants or incorporating an ingredient as apparently nutritious as an açaí or goji berry. Protein and probiotics, as well, have entered the dessert category, making it much less of a ‘health sacrifice’ in the eyes of health-minded consumers.”

One other way consumers are taking a healthier approach to dessert is through smaller serving sizes, and miniature or single-serve options remained popular over the past year. Sara Lee, a Hillshire Brands business, introduced single-serve cheesecake slices to its portfolio in January 2016, and Portland Style Cheesecake and Dessert Co. launched miniature 3-inch cheesecakes and cakes in the same month. Sara Lee grew its refrigerated cheesecake business by 254.19 percent to $3.1 million.

The Father’s Table also offers single-serving and reduced-size cheesecake products. In refrigerated cheesecakes, The Father’s Table is the No. 2 company in the segment, and was up 3.62 percent for the year to $53.5 million.

Lance Aasness, executive vice president of Hinds-Bock Corporation, Bothell, WA, has noticed manufacturers getting creative in this area, offering dessert shots or desserts on a stick (think small cheesecake slices dipped in chocolate ganache and served semi-frozen) to meet demand. To meet the mini trend, the company offers a dual servo orbiting multi-piston high speed depositing system, which can run 2,700 miniature products per minute.

Colborne Foodbotics, Lake Forest, IL, has also introduced new equipment to help manufacturers produce single-serve desserts, “through special conveyor technology combined with our proprietary depositor designs,” says Rick Hoskins, president.

At Eli’s, new introductions to meet this demand include Mini Pies and Cheesecake Cuties, measuring 1.7 oz. and 1-inch-square, respectively, which Debbie Marchok, vice president of marketing, says “allows the consumer to ‘treat themselves’ to an indulgent dessert with portion control.”

Looking forward

Going forward, there are two distinct areas of opportunity.

The first takes the clean label trend and expands upon it, including transparency at all levels. Aasness believes that manufacturers are wise to get back to basics with their ingredients, so there’s truly nothing to hide on the label. “By that I mean less-processed, full-flavor ingredients, real butter, real cream, unrefined sugar, unrefined flowers and fewer GMO ingredients,” he said, “just like you see in many parts of Europe.”

But it doesn’t end on the label. Wintz believes companies that show clean production practices, as well, will find success. A farm-to-fork approach will be favored, he adds. “For companies dedicated to true transparency and an open dialogue with consumers, offering an immersive look at their company, their brand and its products is certainly a progressive next step.”

The second area of opportunity concerns flavors. While Datassential reports that the top growing flavors in desserts are still sweet favorites like Nutella, marshmallow, red velvet and butterscotch, the consumers of tomorrow will be captured not by the familiar, but by the exotic.

“Ethnic flavors are more common now on menus, and these influence the retail products as consumers would like to experience the same flavors and textures at home,” says Carlos Fajardo, technical business development manager, Palsgaard, Morris Plains, NJ.

Eli’s is incorporating such trends with savory, southern and ethnic flavors in desserts, such as Salted Caramel Cheesecake, Blackberry Sour Cream Cheesecake and Honey Almond Cheesecake, drawing inspiration from eastern Mediterranean flavors. And, of course, a vibrant and fun category like desserts can capitalize on one hot trend, says Marchok: “Unicorn everything. Colorful desserts will reign in 2017.”