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Building Texture Into Sugar-Reduced Products (Prepared Foods)

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Building Texture Into Sugar-Reduced Products (Prepared Foods)
Kim Decker

Sugar slashers take note: building back sweetness is only half the equation. You have to tend to texture, too, to deliver a sensory experience

“New year, new you,” right? How about “New year, new dairy formulation”? As we settle into 2017, one thing that isn’t changing — amidst a whole lot that is — is the public’s not-so-subtle request that food processors substantively change the formulations of their favorite foods and beverages, dairy included. The change they currently request above all others is sugar reduction. Market research firm Mintel found fully 70% of Americans professing concern over how sugar affects their general health. In its May 2015 “Sugars and Alternative Sweeteners Report,” Mintel found that 36% of consumers now scrutinize the sweetener levels in their ice cream choices, while 35% do the same when evaluating yogurts. No wonder then that the number of new dairy products with “low-/reduced-sugar” claims has risen steadily from 65 in 2011 to 156 in 2015, per Mintel’s count. Indeed, with the Food and Drug Administration’s updated sugar-labeling regulations requiring the disclosure of “added sugars” (in grams and as a percent Daily Value) on product labels in 2018, those low-sugar launches now look prescient. But when slashing sugar levels, dairy formulators aren’t just tweaking taste; they’re playing with an important textural determinant, as well. So sugar slashers take note: Building back sugar’s sweetness is only half the equation. As Wade Schmelzer, principal scientist at Wayzata, Minn.-based Cargill put it, you’ve got to tend to texture, too, “to deliver the desired sensory experience.”

Texture is hard

Somewhat paradoxically, despite our living in a food-obsessed age, when gastro-bloggers deconstruct every facet of the eating experience for social-media consumption, texture remains an unsung sensory modality — often as hard to describe as it is easy to overlook. But dairy developers overlook it at their peril. That’s because “texture can greatly influence the consumer’s sensory experience, and can result in an unfavorable perception if not managed accordingly,” said Donna Klockeman, senior principal food scientist at TIC Gums of White Marsh, Md. Whether it is syneresis in yogurt, sediment in chocolate milk or chunky crystals in ice cream, all are real-world manifestations of texture gone awry, and all reinforce Klockeman’s contention that “each dairy category has unique challenges to delivering the textural attributes formulators are looking for.” In other words, optimizing dairy texture is hard. Making it harder are the exigencies of modern dairy production itself. As Cargill’s Senior Technical Services Manager Joe Klemaszewski pointed out, “Dairy products were traditionally produced near the point of consumption because of transportation costs and short shelf lives.” But with consolidation of dairy farms and plants, not to mention advances in processing, packaging and distribution, that’s no longer the case. Dairy’s map has broadened. The upshot, said Klemaszewski, is that dairy processors face the task of maintaining an acceptable texture for a longer time.

Sugar’s textural touch

Cutting sugar from formulations doesn’t make that task any easier. The reason: all sugars and sugar polymers that associate with water — from glucose and sucrose to fibers, bulking agents and hydrocolloids — have an important impact on texture, Klockeman said. Through their contributions to moisture control, mouthfeel, freezing-point depression and more — even through mere bulk — sugars and related carbohydrates prove just as important in dairy for texture as they do for sweetness. Thus, product developers “need to take a systems approach to compensating for the missing sugar” in low-sugar reformulations, said Nesha Zalesny, the technical sales manager at Fiberstar, River Falls, Wis. Replacing sugar at 12% with a high-intensity sweetener at 1% not only opens up an 11-percentage-point gap in a mix’s bulk, but also it eliminates sugar’s functionality. Zalesny noted, “this results in a watery product.” Sugar’s textural touch — and the void left in its absence — are especially apparent in frozen dairy. Because simple sugars like glucose and fructose, disaccharides like sucrose and lactose and large carbohydrate polymers — think maltodextrins — have “a significant effect on the freezing point of the application,” Klockeman said, they also “have the largest impact on frozen dairy products,” helping to keep their eating texture palatable. In so doing, they improve the flavor profile, as well. “Texture encompasses a product’s melting characteristics, which directly affect flavor delivery. So a reduction or change in the amount of sugar will not only influence texture, but will also influence the perception of flavor components at eating temperature,” Klockeman said.

Hydrocolloids to the rescue

Given all the above, Adams Berzins couldn’t have said it better when he declared that reductions in nutritive sweetener levels “often require adjustment of the existing stabilizer system or the addition of hydrocolloids.” Berzins wrote that in an August 2016 white paper for Bridgewater, N.J.-based Ingredion, where he is the sweetener solutions technical service project leader. That certainly echoes the conclusions of Ross White, nutrition applications manager for FMC Health and Nutrition, Philadelphia, who noted that hydrocolloids’ ability to influence texture is much the same as sugar’s; that is, just as sugar binds formulation water to boost viscosity and mouthfeel, so do hydrocolloids. As such, “a proper use of hydrocolloids can be implemented to replace a significant amount of the viscosity and mouthfeel lost when sugar is removed.” Consider what hydrocolloids bring to fermented dairy. “Several yogurt manufacturers have recently reduced sugar levels in their products,” Klockeman noted, and this “has had a direct impact on flavor profile and important textural attributes such as mouth coating, mouth clearing and mixes with saliva.” Hydrocolloids like cellulose gum, inulin and gum acacia all help pick up the slack and can provide texture and stability in lieu of sugar in yogurt applications. In frozen dairy, polyols, maltodextrin and soluble fibers are go-to ingredients for increasing process viscosity and slowing ice-cream melt, and “are necessary to provide the softness and scoopability consumers expect,” Klemaszewski said. But “the challenge is often greater in reduced-sugar products as manufacturers replace sugar with water.” Managing that water is key to emphasizing the cream and not the ice in product texture, and his team has done just that with very low levels of a pectin- and agar-based functional system. “In theory, we could do the same thing with low-sugar carbohydrates like maltodextrin or inulin,” he noted. Klemaszewski added that both locust bean and guar gums also earn praise for minimizing ice-crystal size in reduced-sugar ice creams. And carrageenan’s “synergistic reaction with milk proteins gives high viscosity at low shear, providing a mouth coating that mimics milkfat,” he added. Carrageenan is a staple of dairy beverage formulation, where one of the greatest challenges to sugar reduction involves maintaining a fluid consistency and eliminating the risks of gelation that can occur when a higher water content is available, White noted. “Carrageenan can form a wide range of textures in water-based systems to impart a smooth mouthfeel and manage the excess water present when sugar solids are removed. In particular, iota carrageenan can form clear, glossy gels that reform after processing, resulting in unmatched suspension,” White explained. The hydrocolloid works by tightly binding formulation proteins. In a low-sugar pudding, for instance, exposed proteins on the surface of the dairy micelle will interact with carrageenan’s sulfated groups “to create this strong milk gel and successfully replace the removed sugars in this and similar dairy products,” White said. Even better, only a very small amount — about 0.2% — suffices to do the trick.

Know your limits

Not all dairy formulators choose to deploy standard hydrocolloids in their low-sugar reformulations, however, and for them, alternative texturizers come in the form of products like one that Zalesny described as a complex of pectin, cellulose and hemicellulose citrus fibers “organized together in a way that only Nature can create inside the plant cell walls.” Because the ingredient comprises both an insoluble portion with a high surface area and a partially soluble colloidal portion, “in each particle, it creates a microcosm of a full- and short-bodied texture,” Zalesny explained, “while avoiding the long texture characteristic of high-molecular-weight texturants.” Blended with water, it produces viscosity and enough bulk that “the molecule itself can create drag across the tongue similar to sugar,” she said. The ingredient can appear on labels as citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour, all of which “resonate well in the clean-label market,” said Kurt Villwock, Fiberstar’s director of R&D. And that’s no small matter in today’s transparency-minded climate. “Although many texturants come from natural sources and can even be used without chemical functionalization, there are only a few that perform without purification of the key component. Even amongst these natural options, many texturants cannot be called clean simply because of negative consumer perception,” he said. The trick, experts say, is to know your destination — both from a labeling standpoint and, especially, from a textural one — before you start formulating. Paulo H. Santos, a senior associate in hydrocolloid systems at Ingredion, noted that “Rheology (the study of the deformation and flow of materials) and tribology (the study of lubrication and friction) can be useful tools” in reaching that destination to all parties’ satisfaction. White agreed. “If viscosity is the key parameter, then a discussion regarding the product expectations when measured at a specific temperature, shear rate and equipment often help speed up development time and ensure a successful recommendation,” he said. Ultimately, he concluded, the most common challenge his team faces when helping customers optimize texture in reduced-sugar formulations is meeting expectations. “It’s not enough for a customer simply to ask for a match to the sugar-based control,” he said. Scientists from both sides have to know where they’re going, and measure how close they are to getting there.

Finding Alternatives for Vanilla, Pectin (Food Business News)

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(Jeff Gelski)

KANSAS CITY — While the bearish market continues for commodity prices in the food industry, food companies are not completely out of the woods when it comes to high ingredient prices. Vanilla and pectin are two examples where alternatives may be considered to address costs.

Prices for wheat, corn and soy generally were down in 2016, and prices for corn and soy ingredients were below that of a year ago.

The pricing situation is different for a few other ingredients. Poor crops years have affected the ingredient prices for vanilla and pectin (a gelling and texturizing agent). Finding alternatives to both ingredients may take some effort.

Madagascar’s vanilla blues

A majority of the commercial vanilla beans sold in the world comes from Madagascar. The vanilla crop in that country was expected to be about 2,000 to 2,400 tonnes this year, according to an August report from Aust & Hachmann, a vanilla supplier based in Pointe-Claire, Que.

A majority of the commercial vanilla beans sold in the world comes from Madagascar.

“Now many exporters talk about a crop no larger than 1,300 to 1,500 (tonnes),” the report said.

The 2016 Madagascar crop looks to be both unsustainably expensive and substandard in terms of quality, the report said. Prices in excess of $80 for a kilogram (2.2 lbs) of green vanilla beans were being seen. The market situation possibly could eclipse the vanilla crisis of 2001-04, when prices surpassed $500 per kilogram. Less than three years ago, first-grade extraction beans sold for less than $30 a kilogram.

“On the ground in Madagascar it is a total speculative frenzy where prices for vanilla are increasing on a daily basis,” the report said. “Attempts to regulate quality and vacuum packing have been brushed aside in the rush to take advantage of what seems to be a market with no limits.”

Prices also have risen in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, according to the report.

Paris-based Prova is addressing the current situation and the long-term sustainability of vanilla.

“At Prova, we work closely with our clients by supporting their purchasing strategy across short-, medium- and long-term needs,” said Alessandra Ognibene-Lerouvillois, chief sustainability officer and chief revenue officer for Prova. “Having valid and reliable information about the vanilla supply is critical to their materials planning, but our expertise does not stop with that information.

“There are times when using vanilla extract simply becomes too expensive. When that happens, we apply our expertise in materials processing and flavor creation to innovate alternatives that perform well while meeting cost constraints.”

Prova offers a portfolio of compound vanilla flavors, including naturals, WONFs (with other natural flavors), synthetics, and naturals and artificials, she said. Provanil, an alternative to vanillin, is designed specifically for application in high-fat systems and products that undergo high baking temperatures.

Prova also applies resources to improve the vanilla supply situation in Madagascar and make it more sustainable long term.

“We concentrate our efforts on education and training through the administration of domestic resources,” Ms. Ognibene-Lerouvillois said. “We support the farmers with several GAPP (Good Agricultural and Preparation Practices) training elements.”

Prova stresses to farmers that high quality vanilla is the only guarantee of a stable market. A Vanilla Durable Bemanevika (VDB) program addresses the root causes of precarious living conditions in Madagascar. The program seeks to improve livelihoods by increasing farmer income through better vanilla bean quality, higher yields, strengthening proportions of cured vanilla sold and diversification into other crops.

Pectin problems

Pectin, a hydrocolloid sourced from citrus peel, has risen in price after poor crop years in Argentina. High methoxyl (HM) pectin was priced at $9 per lb in an IMR Quarterly Review of Food Hydrocolloids earlier this year, which was more than double its price in 2006. Low methoxyl pectin (LM) was priced at $10.60 per lb. San Diego-based IMR International puts out the quarterly review.

Pectin works as gelling and texturizing agents for use in bakery fillings as well as jams, jellies, dressings and beverages, according to CP Kelco, a hydrocolloids company based in Atlanta.

Citri-Fi, a citrus fiber ingredient from Fiberstar, River Falls, Wis., has been shown to provide assistance for companies wanting to alleviate the current high costs of pectin. Citri-Fi has high water-holding capacity and emulsification properties, said Jennifer Stephens, vice-president of marketing for Fiberstar. It provides multiple benefits, including textural improvements, nutritional enhancements and potential cost-savings in various food products.

Citri-Fi 100, a citrus pulp, is comprised of both insoluble and soluble fiber, which contains the highly esterified native pectin that gels under certain conditions with low pH and high brix being examples.

“Because the Citri-Fi is not pure pectin, the usage ranges from 1% to 2%,” Ms. Stephens said. “At the same time, Citri-Fi is easy to incorporate. It does not need to be pre-hydrated, which can save manufacturers a process step, and this natural fiber, when mixed with sugar, disperses easily into solution.

“Moreover, Citri-Fi is baking stable so that it can also replace the more costly low methoxyl pectins in high brix and low pH applications. Citri-Fi can extend/replace added pectin in fruit fillings, fruit spreads and fruit preparations for yogurt. Moreover, this natural fiber can be used to replace or used in conjunction with other hydrocolloid blends to replace pectin. Citri-Fi 100 is offered in several particles sizes to provide textures ranging from smooth to pulpy.”

Citri-Fi also has been shown to reduce oil and/or fat in baked foods such as cookies, cakes and muffins.

Pectin peel supply conditions will remain challenged, and peel costs are expected to remain at elevated levels, according to CP Kelco. The company said it is building a new peel processing plant in Brazil that is scheduled to be operational in 2017. The plant should reduce CP Kelco’s exposure to peel availability and price fluctuations.

CP Kelco already has completed an expansion of pectin capacity in Europe and expanded capacity at a manufacturing facility in Brazil. Debottlenecking projects in Europe, already in progress, should lead to additional capacity during 2017-18.

“Pectin is a highly functional and complex stabilizer that provides targeted performance in specific product markets,” said Drew Kleven, product line manager, functional systems and hydrocolloids for Minneapolis-based Cargill. “While there is no replacement for pectin’s robust functionality in these markets, we have the deep well of expertise and a broad toolbox to partner with our customers to create the best possible system in order to promote success.”

Food formulators also may want to keep up to date on the price of xanthan gum, another hydrocolloid. Transparency Market Research, Albany, N.Y., expects the global xanthan gum market to have a compound annual growth rate in revenue of 7.7% from 2016 to 2024, possibly reaching $1.25 billion. The C.A.G.R. in volume could be 7.3% from 2016 to 2024.

“The key end users of the global xanthan gum market include the industries of food and beverage, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, personal care, and other minor end users such as lab research prospects and agrochemicals,” the report said.

Xanthan gum is used as a thickening and emulsion stabilizing agent in various food applications such as sauces, dressings, bakery and dairy products. The food and beverage industry was responsible for consumption of over 50% of the xanthan gum produced globally in 2015, according to the report. Growing preference for xanthan gum from pharmaceutical and personal care industries as a bio-based stabilizer is anticipated to bring opportunities in the market.

Save money through shorter product development times

Switching to more cost-effective ingredients is not the only way food companies may save money. Think cutting back on product development time or buying an entire ingredient system instead of one ingredient at a time.

Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., offers Dial-In technology, a consumer-centric approach to product development. Ingredion’s five-step process guides companies. The five steps are setting goals, gathering insights, setting sensory targets, understanding the process and formulating product. Ingredion’s Dial-In technology explores a company’s business and technical priorities, including functional performance standards, manufacturing requirements, potential label claims, cost goals and timeline.

The functional systems group from Minneapolis-based Cargill enables companies to lock in one price for a tailor-made ingredient system, saving time and internal resources by purchasing, stocking and formulating with one functional system instead of multiple ingredients.

“Bakers benefit by not needing to carry multiple minor ingredients and knowing production will have less batch-to-batch variance,” said Bill Gilbert, certified master baker and principal food technologist for Cargill. “In addition, sourcing one system, instead of multiple ingredients, allows customers to save time and money. We will source any ingredient needed by our customers, or we carry stock blends.

“Icing stabilizers are a perfect example of a stock functional system. We produce stabilizers for white and chocolate icing as well as glazes. We can also help our customers modify stock functional systems to make signature icings or glazes to meet their individual needs.”

Save money through fermented sweeteners

Food and beverage companies have sought ways to save on stevia costs ever since December 2008 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it had no questions about two petitions regarding the safety of using Rebaudioside A, an extract from the stevia plant, in foods and beverages.

Eight years later, fermentation has arisen as a promising way to lower costs for such high-intensity sweeteners.

Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., will become the exclusive distributor of stevia-based sweeteners from SweeGen, Inc. in all markets except China under an agreement reached by the two companies on Dec. 1 of this year. Ingredion will be a non-exclusive distributor in China.

A fermentation process used to develop its stevia-based sweeteners ensures sustained availability and a commercially feasible pricing structure for use in foods and beverages, according to SweeGen, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

Minneapolis-based Cargill in June of this year said it had received a letter of no objection from the F.D.A. for the use of its EverSweet sweetener in foods and beverages. EverSweet contains Rebaudioside M and Rebaudioside D, two of the sweetest steviol glycosides. The stevia plant produces trace amounts of Reb M and Reb D. Cargill and Evolva partnered to produce Reb M and Reb D through a fermentation process involving baker’s yeast that makes the sweetener more commercially and sustainably viable.

Stay prepared for any changes in nuts and eggs markets

Nut and egg ingredient prices have fallen from 2015. Still, food companies may want to recall knowledge learned about alternative ingredients last year. There’s no guarantee prices will stay low.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in May forecast California almond production at 2 billion lbs in 2016, or nearly 6% above the 2015 production of 1.89 billion lbs. California almonds were trading at $1.80@2.80 a lb on Dec. 9, according to the U.S.D.A., which compared with $2.75 a year ago. California pistachios were trading at $5.20@6.70 as compared with $6.50 a year ago, and California walnuts were trading at $1.70@2.50 as compared with $2.50 a year ago.

When considering nut ingredient alternatives, food companies may look to Inclusion Technologies, L.L.C., Atchison, Kas. The company offers nut-free Nadanut nut analogs based on stabilized wheat germ and expeller-pressed oil with natural antioxidants and naturally sourced colors and flavors. The Non-GMO Project-verified products are available in a variety of sizes and shapes. They come in such nut varieties as almond, hazelnut and peanut.

Grade A, large eggs were selling at 53.50@61.50c per dozen on Dec. 9, which compared with 198c per dozen a year ago, according to the U.S.D.A. Dried egg whites were selling at $2.75@2.85 per lb on Dec. 9, which compared with $7.90 per lb a year ago.

Grade A, large eggs were selling at 53.50@61.50c per dozen on Dec. 9.

An avian influenza outbreak was responsible for the high prices in 2015. A new wave of avian influenza outbreaks potentially could shake up global marketing conditions in 2017, affecting the outlook for Asia, Europe and Africa, according to a report issued this month by Nan-Dirk Mulder, senior analyst — animal protein for Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research Advisory, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

“It will also be a test for the U.S. industry after last year’s A.I. outbreaks,” Mr. Mulder said in the report.

The global egg replacement ingredient market is anticipated to register a compound annual growth rate of 5.8% from 2016 to 2026 and is estimated to be valued at $1,533.3 million by the end of 2026, according to a report issued in October by Research and Markets, Dublin, Ireland.

“Egg shortage crisis due to avian influenza, increasing demand for plant-based ingredients and increased cost of eggs are factors expected to support the growth of the global egg replacement ingredient market over the forecast period,” the report said.

Many ingredient suppliers promoted egg extenders and egg replacers when egg prices were high in 2015.

J&K Ingredients, Paterson, N.J., offers the Vita-Ex egg extender that has been shown to cut the cost of using eggs in sweet goods, Danish pastries, rolls, donuts, cookies and cakes. Vita-Ex ingredients include egg yolks and whole egg solids.

MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kas., offers Arise wheat protein isolates as alternatives to egg-based proteins. They may work as inclusions in such flour-based products as bread, pasta and noodles, and batters and breadings.

Fiberstar: Natural Fiber (Prepared Foods)

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Fiberstar will exhibit at the 2016 International Baking Industrial Exposition (IBIE) in Las Vegas to showcase Citri-Fi®, a natural, non-GMO fiber derived from citrus pulp.

Due to its unique composition of soluble and insoluble fiber and protein, this natural fiber provides functionalities such as water holding, stabilization, gelling, emulsification and clouding for various food applications. Citri-Fi can be labeled as citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour.

Show attendees can visit Fiberstar at IBIE Booth #470 to sample baked fruit bars that use Citri-Fi® for moisture management and improved texture over shelf-life.

Bakery formulators also should know that Fiberstar qualified for the “Best in Baking” program due to Citri-Fi®’s sustainable process and industry natural use to provide cost savings, great texture and nutritional improvements.

Citri-Fi® provides multiple benefits in bakery applications. They include:

• Pectin replacement/extension
• Natural emulsification
• Moisture management
• Fat and caloric reduction
• Egg extension
• Reduced syneresis in fillings

Citri-Fi® is a natural, non-GMO and National Organic Compliant ingredient that also gluten-free and allergen-free.

Visit www.fiberstar.net for more details.

Meat Ingredients Insight: Enhancing Yields (Food Business News)

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Meat Ingredients Insight: Enhancing Yields (Food Business News)

(Donna Berry)
Benefits to yield enhancement extend to color retention and food safety.

KANSAS CITY — Yield enhancement refers to the binding of moisture – natural juices or added water – in meat and poultry to increase the weight of the product, and thus saleable volume. However, as with many technologies, ingredients used for yield enhancement often provide extra benefits.

The primary bonus is extra moisture translating to a juicier, more succulent protein. Some ingredients assist with color retention while others retard lipid oxidation. Still others provide food safety benefits. Yield improvement ingredients may also reduce drip loss, limit package purge and decrease freeze-thaw drying.

The role of pH

The pH of meat and poultry is a key factor in moisture retention. The higher the pH, the greater the protein’s ability to bind moisture. Processing must also be considered.

“The pH of a live animal is 7, after rigor it can drop as low as 5.4, so the goal is to manipulate it up again to more than 6,” said Dave Grex, director of meat technology for Chicago-based Newly Weds Foods.

This may be accomplished through the addition of functional ingredients, as well as environmental considerations.

“It’s important to test your water for pH, minerals and impurities, and adjust, soften and filter as needed,” Mr. Grex said. “Always keep in mind that the animal has up to 70% water already in the muscle, so it makes sense to bind as much of that as possible.”

Newly Weds Foods carries a full line of sodium and potassium phosphates for more traditional means of function, as well as specialty clean label ingredients, including organic acids, citrus fibers and flours, and oat hydrocolloids.

“All of these are highly functioning and work by either trapping the moisture inside the meat, or manipulating the pH to increase the protein water holding capacity,” Mr. Grex said.

Each of the processes involved in turning muscle into a consumable protein can impact yield. This includes cutting, chopping, grinding, emulsification, refrigeration, cooking, freezing, thawing, packaging and reheating, according to Ron Jenkins, commercial development manager of meat, poultry and seafood for Innophos, Inc., Cranbury, N.J. To maximize yields, functional ingredients are added to handle the stresses resulting from such processing and handling treatments.

“Many precooked meats can experience cook shrinks of 30% or greater,” said Tom Katen, technical service representative for Cargill Texturizing Solutions. “Plus, they can have a very dry texture when reheated. By adding functional ingredients, you get better yields, freeze-thaw benefits and a great-tasting precooked meat item.”

Ready-to-eat deli meats also often contain ingredients to improve cook yield.

“The improved cook yield results in more saleable volume, more consistency, reduced purge in package and better margins for the processor,” said Stephanie Carlson, global marketing communications manager of the meat industry for Corbion, Lenexa, Kansas. “The benefit for the consumer is a juicier product, improved texture and an overall better quality product.”

Varying by application

Functional ingredients include starches, fibers, phosphates and even fruit extracts. These ingredients use different mechanisms to increase yield.

“These mechanisms differ depending on the type of water binding (physical or chemical), the conditions needed to activate the functional ingredient (e.g., temperature, pH), composition and particle size,” said Brock Lundberg, president of research and development for Fiberstar. “Because these functional ingredients provide unique functional benefits, it is common to see blends used to improve yields in specific meat processes.”

With whole muscle proteins, yield enhancement ingredients are typically added via injected or tumbled marinade. For ground and comminuted systems, they may be blended into the product in a dry or liquid solution format.

Historically, phosphate salts have been one of the most common ingredients for yield enhancement in meat and poultry products, as they efficiently increase pH. This maximizes water-binding potential of the proteins.

“Phosphates are also very useful with providing muscle-to-muscle binding,” Mr. Jenkins said. “This is critical in boneless hams and whole muscle deli products. They can establish and stabilize meat batter emulsions, which is necessary to maximize yields and deliver the desired texture.”

While phosphates improve yield, they also protect color and flavor by protecting the fat from oxidation by the metal ions inherent in meat, water and other ingredients. This protective function continues during processing, frozen storage and subsequent cooking and reheating, according to Mr. Jenkins.

Innophos offers a full line of specialty phosphates and phosphate blends that include sodium and potassium forms, both individually and in combination. Selection is based on the target application, process conditions, water quality and other ingredient characteristics.

“For example, di- and tripolyphosphates will facilitate hydration and binding of whole muscle chicken proteins through a myriad of processes including cooking, storage, freezing, batter and breading, and subsequent reheating,” Mr. Jenkins said. “Additionally, the phosphates will protect the fat component from oxidation thus providing clean flavor regardless of repeated heating applications.”

Textured soy protein is a common yield enhancement ingredients, which can hold up to six times its weight in water.

Another familiar yield enhancement ingredient is textured soy protein, which can hold up to six times its weight in water. Two of the most common soy meat extenders, textured soy flour and textured soy concentrate, are often confused.

“Textured soy flour includes the sugars and dietary fiber naturally contained in the soybean, while textured soy concentrate does not,” Mr. Katen said. “That distinction has little effect on the functionality or appearance of the two products. The big difference is in the cost. Textured soy flour is usually half the cost of concentrate. Regardless of the textured soy protein option used, it’s important to match the right size, shape and color to the meat application.”

Minced pieces work best in applications such as chili, pizza toppings and taco fillings, where particle definition is important. Flaked particles are best for products such as patties, nuggets and Salisbury steak. The determining factor is how the product is cooked. Flakes hydrate faster in cold water, but are torn apart in high heat or long cooking processes. Minced forms require longer hydration and are typically used in retort, high-heat applications.

In kettle-cooked products such as chili, textured soy protein can absorb the melted fat, improving product appearance and customer appeal. At the same time it is absorbing fat, it’s adding protein, increasing the protein-to-fat ratio in a prepared meat product.

Plant-derived extracts

Starches and fibers derived from plants are increasingly being used to plump up meat and poultry products. For example, The Dow Chemical Co., Philadelphia, offers cellulose ingredients that may be used in various comminuted meat applications.

“Addition provides a good, juicy bite, even in reduced-fat products,” said Christopher Spontelli, marketing manager for Dow. “In hot dogs, 0.75- to 1% modified cellulose can be used to replace lean meat and reduce cost. Our data has shown a yielded cost savings of 4- to 6% over control, while still maintaining heated firmness and juiciness.”

Some yield enhancement ingredients allow for fat reduction in fried foods. For example, when modified cellulose is used in the coating system of fried meat products, fat uptake can be reduced as much as 35% during the frying process. These fibers can also increase yield in fried foods by increasing moisture retention during frying and extending hold time under heat lamps, as well as improve adhesion of coatings to the meat substrate.

Functional ingredient systems are designed to provide supreme cook yields and texture using fewer ingredients in products such as poultry-based and lower-fat hot dogs.

“When it comes to clean label formulating, the functional ingredient formulation tool box shrinks,” Mr. Lundberg said. “Processors are tasked to replace their workhorse functional ingredients with clean label versions, while maintaining yields, reduced purge and comparable sensory results.

“One newer functional ingredient that is up to the challenge is citrus fiber. It can be used along with clean label starches, such as native rice starch, to maintain yields when replacing chemical phosphates.”

Not all citrus fibers are created the same, Mr. Lundberg said.

“Our citrus fiber is a very unique clean label functional fiber that is classified as a binder and can be used at levels up to 3% in meat and poultry products, with labeling options of ‘citrus flour’ or ‘dried citrus pulp.’”

When used at less than 1%, this citrus fiber has been shown to reduce purge by up to 4% and increase yields by as much as 5%. These functions are attributed to the citrus fiber’s composition, which is about 70% dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) and protein content (about 8%). This is in addition to the cell wall structure that provides water-holding stability, a structuring effect and emulsification properties.

Corbion offers a patent-pending blend of citrus fiber and vinegar powder that not only improves cook yield, it provides food safety benefits. Declared simply as “citrus fiber, vinegar,” it is considered a clean label option for all-natural marketed products.

“Data show a 4.4% yield increase in natural turkey breast when this ingredient is 1.5% of a marinade,” Mr. Carlson said. “In an injected natural ham with fibrous casing, a use level of 1.2% allowed for a 9.9% yield increase over the control.”

“We offer rice starch that binds moisture, assisting with maintaining yields and margins without any negative impact on the end product,” said Olivier Chevalier, business development manager for meat applications at Belgium-based Beneo. “Being pure white, rice starch ensures that poultry, in particular, has a clean look, with no pinking.”

Sampling tests by Texas A&M Univ. showed rice starch improves yields comparable to modified corn starch, the most common starch used in tumbling of poultry products in the United States. Additionally, a sensorial test with 50 volunteers confirmed that in terms of organoleptic properties, rice starch is a viable alternative. There were no differences in taste, tenderness, juiciness and appearance between the starch solutions tested.

Unlike some other hydrocolloids, rice starch does not increase a marinade’s viscosity. Due to the structure of amylopectin and its ratio to amylose in rice starch, there is very low retrogradation, enabling water retention to be maintained after the poultry has been packed.

“This not only means that there is no unsightly water release in the packaging for consumers, but that the product remains moister for the duration of its shelf life,” Mr. Chevalier said.

Ingredion Inc., offers functional native starches for clean label chicken products. Studies show that native starches may effectively replace modified starches and sodium tripolyphosphate to lock in both moisture and flavor in poultry products.

Fruit-derived ingredients offer a label-friendly yield enhancing option. For example, the chemical composition of plums makes them powerful water binders in many types of meat and poultry.

“We offer fresh plum concentrate and dried plum powder and puree for yield enhancement,” said Rick Perez, research and development chef and spokesman for Sunsweet Growers Inc. “These products contain naturally high levels of sorbitol (about 15%) and fiber. Sorbitol attracts moisture while fiber absorbs moisture and holds it in place.”

Plum ingredients are naturally high in antioxidants, which may enhance shelf life of both raw and cooked products and have been shown to lower the incidence of warmed-over flavor. At the same time, for many applications, the rich deep brown color of dried plum product can replace the need for caramel coloring.

“Our plum ingredients are approved as binders and allowed at levels of up to 2% of the total product formulation when used solely for moisture binding,” Mr. Perez said. “This limit does not apply when the ingredients are used as a flavor component, such as when added to sausages to improve taste and texture as well as yield.”

With plum ingredients, less can be more. A study done by the Univ. of Arkansas at Fayetteville using boneless skinless chicken breasts found that adding more plum product did not necessarily lead to more marinade pick-up. The study showed that a marinade with 1.1% fresh plum concentrate had a 10% marinade pickup while a marinade with 2.2% of the plum concentrate only had 8%.

“When working with plum ingredients, we recommend lowering total salt and spices to keep flavors in balance,” Mr. Perez said. “These ingredients are flavor extenders, so we recommend decreasing salt content by 10% as a starting point when formulating.”

Creating appealing, clean-label frozen snacks and appetizers (Snackfood & Wholesale Bakery)

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(Melissa Kvidahl)

Frozen foods and snacks are meeting no shortage of challenges in the marketplace according to the “Frozen Foods in the U.S.: Hot Meals, Sides, and Snacks” report from Packaged Facts. First, as the report points out, there is unprecedented consumer demand for fresh products—or, at least, fresher products—in refrigerated rather than frozen form. Plus, frozen foods often contain preservatives such as potassium sorbate, calcium propionate and sodium tripolyphosphate, which are at odds with clean-label and natural trends driving the food industry as a whole. Finally, previously popular low-calorie and diet-oriented frozen foods are facing additional consumer scrutiny as a result of their high sodium contents.

Add to this the fact that frozen foods face a sort of antiquated reputation, and it becomes clear that there’s a bit of rebranding that needs to be done in order for this sector to succeed. “Many consumers have come to believe that only fresh foods offer real nutritional value,” says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts, Rockville, MD. He adds that the strong anti-frozen viewpoint on the part of these shoppers can even blind them to brands whose products offer the same nutritional value as fresh or refrigerated options.

But it’s not just judgment in the frozen aisle stunting growth, reveals the report. It’s also about what’s happening in other areas of the store. Packaged Facts points out that there are more and more sources, such as farmers markets and expanded produce sections in grocery and big box stores, offering fresh produce and other foods. In short, these additional sources are pulling consumers away from the freezer case.

“In the last couple of years we have seen a decline in frozen foods,” says Agnes Lapinska, marketing manager, savory, Ingredion Inc., Westchester, IL. “Consumers are changing their shopping patterns and, as a result, the landscape of retail is changing. We have seen a significant consumer migration from the center and frozen aisles to the perimeter of the store, where products are perceived as fresher and better for you.”

Data from IRI, Chicago, shows relatively flat sales in the frozen appetizers and snack rolls category. In the 52 weeks ending April 17, 2016, the category grew just 1.95 percent in dollar sales to reach $2.1 billion. Within that segment, which includes frozen appetizers/snack rolls, frozen breaded vegetables, and frozen soft pretzels, the bright spot was frozen appetizers and snack rolls—the largest segment of the category by far—up 2.34 percent in dollar sales to $2.0 billion. Standout companies in this market included Schwan Food Co. and its Pagoda brand frozen appetizers (up 453.25 percent in dollar sales to $50.5 million), which include various egg rolls, crab Rangoon, wontons and potstickers, as well as Nestlé’s Hot Pockets brand snack rolls (up 1,378.77 percent to $30.0 million).

Frozen pretzels took a dip in sales, posting a 2.49 percent decline, reaching $74.5 million in sales. But a bright spot was gluten-free pretzels from Tonya’s Gluten Free Kitchen (up 33.18 percent) and organic options from Rudi’s Organic Bakery (up 235.09 percent).

Snack producers would be wise to take note: This organic and gluten-free trend buoying soft pretzels is one that will help carry the frozen foods category going forward. Also, the moves Schwan Food Co. and Nestlé have made to improve product quality, add ethnic appeal and draw interest from millennial consumers have proven profitable.

Packaged Facts says the silver lining in the category lies with frozen foods that identify as natural or organic, as they provide a health or freshness halo. The best news of all? Packaged Facts estimates that the frozen food category as a whole has the potential to grow to $23 billion, and that frozen appetizers and snacks are poised to lead the way and garner the most growth in years ahead.

Clean and fresh

Many frozen snack brands are capitalizing on better-for-you consumer demands, rather than trying to compete with them, by offering products that take a clean-label approach.

Indeed, everyone from niche brands to large international companies are looking to feature clean and recognizable ingredients in their frozen offerings, according to Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing at Fiberstar, River Falls, WI. “Due to the growing group of label readers, companies are looking to use more recognizable ingredients (ingredients found in the kitchen), shorter ingredient declarations and a more home-style look and feel,” she says.

But this can be a challenge, Stephens notes, since “artificial” ingredients can often be the workhorses that manage water in a formulation—an important aspect of developing a stable frozen food. “Natural ingredients have limitations when subjected to harsh processing and storage conditions, such as freezing,” she adds. “Therefore, manufacturers are on a quest to balance food quality and shelf life when striving for natural appeal.”

Fiberstar recently launched a new non-GMO Citri-Fi citrus fiber to fit into clean-label formulation strategies. The ingredient appeals to clean-label formulators because it can be labeled as “citrus fiber,” “dried citrus pulp” or “citrus flour,” and it works in gluten-free products as a natural emulsifier. “Since many gluten-free baked goods producers store their products in the freezer case to extend shelf life,” says Stephens, “Citri-Fi also provides moisture management control in these products, due to its high surface area which lends itself to the high water-holding capacity.”

According to Lapinska, brand transformation to appeal to freshness is a leading trend. “They start with the feel and look of the product packaging, and move to claims and updating their ingredients,” she says. “The idea behind this movement is to create new products that resonate with today’s consumer needs while increasing the perception of freshness.”

Ingredion launched NOVATION PRIMA 340 functional native starch in May, which offers instant viscosity and high stability under cold temperature storage for baked or fried frozen meals and snacks, frozen desserts, and frozen filled snacks, like egg rolls and taquitos.

Angelina De Castro, senior manager of marketing, wholesome ingredients, Ingredion, says that formulators replacing instant modified food starches with this new ingredient can benefit from clean-label, non-GMO and gluten-free claims.

Building more culinary appeal into the freezer case can also help. “The frozen food market is currently at an inflection point,” says Vanessa Phillips, CEO, Feel Good Foods, Brooklyn, NY. “While companies are having to invest in educating the consumer, we believe the old stigma of 1980s microwave dinners, associated with frozen foods, is changing. Companies like Feel Good Foods are working at changing the way people view frozen foods, proving that chef-inspired dishes can be in the frozen aisle of the supermarket.”

And, what do “chef-inspired” foods offer? Spice and flavor—a trend taking the frozen market by storm, Phillips adds. When paired with better-for-you claims, ethnic foods have seen a huge spike. And that’s exactly what Feel Good Foods offers: gluten-free egg rolls, dumplings and other Asian-inspired cuisine. “Consumers want to enjoy bold flavors, but with the convenience of quick preparation time,” she says.

Indeed, spice sells. Among frozen taquitos, El Monterey branded offerings from Ruiz Food Products, Inc., Dinuba, CA, were a top seller, according to IRI, growing 8.60 percent in dollar sales to reach $191.0 million in sales. “Both heat and spice have been a trend in the frozen Mexican foods category for quite some time,” explains Rachel P. Cullen, president and CEO. “Today’s consumer enjoys experimenting with a variety of flavors and spices.”

The future of frozen

The future of this category can be a bright one if brands can focus on offering the right products to the right consumers.

Consumer research from Ingredion shows that perception is king. “Consumers look at everything about the product when determining its perceived freshness, including location, shelf life, ingredient label and visual cues,” says Lapinska. In the freezer section, she sees an opportunity for brands to repackage their offerings with fresh-friendly language and marketing. “Offer a modern and enticing look and feel, state the product benefits, and reformulate for a cleaner, simpler label,” she advises. “Clean labels are a part of how consumers perceive freshness, along with authentic and exciting flavors.”

Targeting the right consumers will also matter, says Phillips, who identifies the younger generation as a perceptive audience for clean-label frozen offerings.

Millennials are also a key driver for Ruiz Food Products, says Cullen. For any frozen, heat-and-eat snack, convenience is instrumental to success. But millennials seek more from their foods.

“With the millennials coming through, the importance of nutrition, non-GMO, clean label and local sourcing is going to reinforce the need for new frozen baked good and snack lines,” says Stephens.

Branching out into a more-youthful demographic also shows promise, perhaps because millennials are beginning to start families, and are searching for kid-friendly foods that meet their discerning criteria. “Cleaning up the labels and improving the nutritional profiles, without losing the sense of appeal, could be an opportunity in the kids segment,” says Stephens. “There are new companies popping up run by mothers, creating products tailored to toddlers and small children. Many of these products can be found in the freezer case.”

Small plates, big trend

According to data from Technomic, Chicago, frozen foods are poised to capitalize on restaurant trends.

In the past three years, there has been a surge in menu options when it comes to pretzels (up 14.7 percent), flatbreads (up 12.3 percent), pizza (up 6.4 percent) and cheese/pizza bread (up 1.8 percent). This may have something to do with the fact that small plates are as popular as ever, with 74 percent of the top operators offering appetizers and small plates at an average of seven items per operator. Indeed, small plates are the true superstar, since appetizer offerings in terms of number of menu items were slightly down; small plate menu items (per establishment) soared 80 percent since 2013, per Technomic.

Dishes labeled as “small plates” have increased over 550 percent overall since 2013, appealing to happy hour, drink-pairing, and snacking trends. Why? Technomic reports that 42 percent of consumers want more small plates, and about half of consumers say that ordering small plates helps them control their portion sizes, save money and share dishes with a group.

State of the Industry 2016: Bars continue to address diverse lifestyle needs (Snackfood & Wholesale Bakery)

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Melissa Kvidahl

The bars category continues show good to strong levels of growth, with sufficiently diversified product offerings to appeal to nearly every type of shopper. Few product categories so seamlessly fit into today’s on-the-go lifestyle suited to on-demand snacking.

“The market is growing because bars fit perfectly into our lifestyle,” says Dave Caucutt, vice president of sales and technical services, Lawrence Foods Inc., Elk Grove Village, IL. “We are a mobile society eating many of our meals on the run. Millennials have propelled us all to change to become a snacking culture. And bars carry a healthy halo because they are often fortified to provide a balanced meal alternative.”

Market data

It’s not surprising that bars, appealing to consumers seeking on-the-go snacking, meal replacement options and nutrition, are going strong. According to IRI, Chicago, sales of snack and granola bars grew 4.78 percent in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending April 17, 2016, reaching $5.9 billion.

The “all other” snack/granola bar segment—representing products that don’t easily fit into the breakfast/cereal/snack, granola and nutritional/intrinsic value segments—saw the strongest growth, up 101.38 percent in dollar sales for the year. General Mills posted the most-notable gains, up 347.97 percent in dollar sales. The company also saw a 14.83 percent dollar sales gain for its breakfast/cereal/snack bars. General Mills offers multiple brands of bars, includingNature Valley, Lärabar, Fiber One, Annie’s, Cascadian Farm and Epic, with the latter bringing meat-focused products into the mix.

Nature Valley saw growth of 177.64 percent in all other snack/granola bars and 9.71 percent for its Sweet & Salty granola bars line. But the real standout for the brand was in the breakfast/cereal/snack bars segment, where its Roasted Nut Crunch line grew by 485.43 percent in dollar sales.

The granola bars segment saw growth of 2.4 percent in dollar sales to $1.7 billion. In this segment, KIND Healthy Snacks posted 73.85 percent growth in dollar sales to or $95.2 million. In nutritional/intrinsic health, KIND saw growth of 12.50 percent.

But the most-notable growth in nutritional/intrinsic health was from protein-bar specialist, Quest Nutrition LLC, which saw its bars increase 252.93 percent in dollar sales to nearly $162 million.

Looking back

“With consumers becoming increasingly health-conscious, it’s no surprise that several of the top claims are targeted toward this audience,” says Abby Ceule, director of market management brands, Corbion Caravan, Lenexa, KS. “These claims include gluten-free, GMO-free and organic. Additionally, we are seeing bars with high source of protein and fiber call-outs.”

Indeed, healthy labels are the top trend demanded by today’s bar consumer. However, what constitutes “healthy” runs the gamut.

Protein barsremain in demand. Quest Nutrition is a leader in this segment, and its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar, made with milk and whey protein, is a top seller.

Plant proteins are taking center stage at DuPont Nutrition & Health, St. Louis, which offers a line of soy protein isolates and nuggets developed specifically for use in nutritional bars. “In addition to providing the protein consumers desire and the crunch that increases overall liking, these soy protein ingredients help control the bar texture to deliver on the shelf life requirement needed to succeed in the market,” says Greg Paul, Ph.D., marketing director, nutrition bars and beverages, North America, for the company.

Mamma Chia brought diversity to the bar category in 2014 with its introduction of its organic Chia Vitality bars. Chia offers a source of plant-based protein, omega-3s and other nutritional perks.

KIND also saw strong sales performance over the past year. Its new Healthy Grains Popped Bars include amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa and sorghum, and innovatively feature popcorn as an ingredient.

According to Jamie Wilson, director of marketing and culinary innovation at Parker Products Inc., Fort Worth, TX, ancient grains are also gracing bar labels, thanks to their health benefits and their ability to complement in-demand flavors like sriracha, chile, salted caramel or curry. “In keeping with that trend, we have seen a lot of recent success with our agave-glazed quinoa ingredient,” Wilson adds.

That said, the bar category’s biggest clean-label challenge comes in the form of lowering sugar content. “Bars require a binder?something to keep the ingredients together?and that’s generally a sweetener,” says Wilson. “For an application that consumers perceive as a healthier snack option, that’s a problem when the sweetener is unhealthy.”

Sweeteners that can build label appeal include agave syrup, maple syrup, sweet potato juice concentrate, and fruit ingredients, including fruit fibers and purées and juices.

Fiber continues to attract health-conscious shoppers, and General Mills has found success with its Fiber One bars, often with controlled calorie counts and added protein.

Fiberstar, River Falls, WI, offers the Citri-Fi 100 series, a natural fiber derived from citrus pulp. According to the company’s food technologist, Amanda Wagner, Citri-Fi’s native pectin content translates to unique gelling properties, and the line includes fibers in different particle sizes, which can create different textures from pulpy to smooth in the finished product. “This natural fiber can be labeled citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour,” she adds, “which all resonate well with the clean-label consumer base.”

Demands for healthy snack bars are also transforming how we think about diet foods. According to Paul, “The weight-management category has undergone essentially a complete shift away from weight loss to weight wellness, effectively capturing active-lifestyle consumers looking to maintain weight, in addition to former core weight loss consumers.” This has translated, he says, to the increased presence of unique seeds, nuts, grains and fruits, along with plant proteins, in bar offerings.

According to the Almond Board of California, Modesto, CA, bars with almonds accounted for 13 percent of the bar category’s new product introductions in 2014, with almonds leading other nuts in the bar category.

Portion-controlled and bite-sized offerings also factor into weight management. Over the past year, thinkThin introduced Protein Bites and Protein Nut Bites. The company saw significant gains over the 52 weeks ending April 17, per IRI.

Craig Collett, sales and marketing director, Bosch Packaging Technology Inc, New Richmond, WI, sees weight management influencing packaging solutions. “The on-the-go bar trend engulfing the market requires flexible packaging options, such as flow wrappers,” he says, “which are flourishing as the prime packaging style, reaching the number one packaging format for both regular size bars and bite-size products.”

To meet demand, Bosch Packaging Technology offers the Pack Series of horizontal flow wrappers, which range from entry-level models (such as the Pack 101, which accommodates a wide range of product sizes) to fully automated technologies (such as the Pack 401, which can be used as stand-alone equipment or combined with other processing and packaging machines).

Looking forward

“Customized nutrition will continue to be a great opportunity,” says Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing, Fiberstar, citing bars made for specific genders, lifestyles, life stages, activities, diets and medical conditions as holding untapped market potential. “The trick within this category is offering a bar positioned to a captive audience that is large enough to justify the product’s existence,” she says. “Otherwise, it is just another nutrition/snack bar crowding the bar grocery aisle.” She notes particular areas of interest include allergen-free offerings, as well as those that can offer sustained energy.

Collett suggests that the future holds more promise for true meal replacements in bar form, as they offer a healthier option over fast food meals, while “providing the right amount of nutrition in an easy-to-carry format.”

Bars of the future may be targeted toward different consumers altogether. “While current bars skew heavily toward adults, from millennials through Gen X through boomers, we feel the next wave will focus on child and senior nutrition,” says Caucutt.

Brian Gaffney, vice president of dehydrated ingredient sales, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, Nashville, NC, also sees much potential in highly nutritious, kid-friendly bars. “Several major brands have rolled out products that fit this profile recently,” he says. “Two things likely drive the trend: First, as snack companies experience growth from the general strength of the market, they are able to pursue greater segmentation. Secondly, bars make sense as a more-healthy, clean-label snack for parents to give their children.”

But, says Paul, perhaps more important than any trend, “innovation will continue to characterize the nutrition bar market. This is an industry with a relatively low barrier to entry, so competitors will come and go with regularity. However, the consumer trends driving the bar market?convenience and nutrition?are here to stay.”

IFT News: Companies Shared News & Showcased New Products, Ingredients: Fiberstar Student Competition (Natural Product Insider)

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(Courtney Johnson )
August 3, 2016

Companies showcased new ingredients and products at the 2016 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Chicago, July 16-19, and attendees had the opportunity to experience trends in the industry.

 Product and Ingredient Launches

Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients (CIFI) launched four new ingredient brands and two other new products at IFT, defining and adding to its existing line of 100 percent Carolina-made sweet potato ingredients, which can replace artificial sweeteners and other unpopular ingredients in clean-label applications. The new brands are:

•Carolina Original cloudy sweet potato juice: a nutrient-dense, domestically sourced juice that adds flavor, color, and a nutritional boost to baked goods, sauces and more.

•Carolina Clear clarified sweet potato juice: the ideal alternative to high fructose corn syrup and sugar for your health-focused consumer, adding vegetable servings and a health halo.

•Carolina Craft dehydrated sweet potato ingredients: sweet potato flour and granules that support gluten-free and non-GMO applications by adding flavor, texture and nutrients including fiber.

•Carolina Sweet clean label sweetener: a vegetable-based, nutritional replacement for high fructose corn syrup and other undesirable sweeteners.

With solutions for bakery, meat, confectionery, dairy and beverage, Corbion offers a comprehensive and diverse portfolio. At IFT 2016, Corbion showcased the following products and their capabilities:

  • Ensemble® –easing the transition to non-PHO emulsifiers.
  • UltraFresh® –extending bread shelf life.
  • Verdad®™vanta®—offering multifunctional benefits for meat and poultry with natural ingredients.
  • Opti.Form® –solution that does more than deliver top shelf Listeria control.
  • Purac® Powders –delivers a clean, long-lasting sour taste for acid-sanded confectionery.

Dow Food Solutions showcased two plant-based functional ingredients, developed to help manufacturers reduce fat or offer healthier products to their customers – WELLENCE™ Fat Reduction Food Gums and the METHOCEL™ Portfolio for meat applications.

Parker Products is supporting the dairy industry with its new line of seven clean label cake inclusions, produced through a unique hot panning process, which was showcased at IFT. Parker’s cake inclusions are produced using a unique hot-panning process, which leaves lower moisture content in the final piece. This allows for a longer shelf life of up to 12 months.

BENEO highlighted the technical performance of Remypure.  Remypure is the company’s first high performing rice starch that qualifies for both natural and clean-label status worldwide. “Remypure, our new functional native rice starch, supports manufacturers in the development of products that respond to the growing natural and clean label trend demanded by consumers,” said Jon Peters, president of BENEO, Inc.

Solvay brought its vanilla taste range and expertise to IFT this year. Visitors were invited to discover how Solvay can help create great tasting nutritional products. “Our Rhovanil® vanillin is of the highest purity, consistent quality, best-in-class safety and traceability,’” said Edouard Janssen, vice president of Solvay’s Aroma Performance business unit in the Americas. “And it’s ‘made in the USA’.”

With Steviva Ingredients’ new Erysweet+ Ultra blend, clean-label, sugar-free chocolate can be achieved. Erysweet+Ultra is a super-fine mesh powder consisting of SteviaSweet 95-60 with Erysweet non-GMO erythritol, a polyol that provides natural low-calorie sweetening and bulk. This proprietary blend of highly purified steviol glycosides delivers a clean flavor that is free from bitter notes and aftertaste commonly found in other stevia products.

Tate & Lyle served up food-truck-inspired fare that delivers on global flavor trends at IFT. Influenced greatly by a new generation of consumers, the menu consists of a label-friendly sweet street taco; a fiber-enriched summer mango gazpacho; a reduced-calorie/reduced-sugar spicy chocolate milk and a gluten-free cinnamon-sugar donut.

TIC Gums debuted new clean label texture and stability solutions for use in dairy alternative beverages, gummy applications and ice cream formulations at IFT. Ticaloid® PRO 181 AG is new technology for formulators seeking to target texture and stability in ready-to-drink, dairy alternative beverages. Ticagel® Natural GC-581 B is an all-natural, non-GMO gelatin replacer for use in gelatin-free gummy candy and nutritional delivery systems. Dairyblend Natural IC CL is a turn-key stabilizer system that eliminates the need for mono-and diglyceride emulsifiers in soft serve and hard pack ice cream applications.

Company News

Glanbia Nutritionals announced that it has just completed the process of combining its three businesses into one nutritional powerhouse. IFT attendees were among the first industry professionals to experience Glanbia Nutritionals as a new integrated business.

Since 2012, Edlong has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarship money to students pursuing a degree in food science with an emphasis on dairy flavors and/or dairy science. Manpreet Kaur Cheema and Simon Itle—two students at the Pennsylvania State University—have been awarded the Edlong Dairy Technologies Scholarship through IFT.

NMI introduced the 2016 Healthy Aging Across Generations, which seeks to provide insights into how today’s consumer confronts their own health and wellness, helping to uncover factors that create health challenges, and reveal some underlying dynamics that may help to provide a glimpse into what lies ahead. This report covers the various dimensions of healthy aging, and the opportunities which exist to help consumers translate their aspirational attitudes into actual behaviors.

Virginia Dare has been producing flavors and extracts for more than 90 years, and debuted a refreshed and evolved brand at the 2016 IFT show in Chicago. Virginia Dare’s new brand was supported by materials including a new logo, website, marketing and sales materials, and trade show booth.

Fiberstar Inc. announced a student innovation contest entailing new and novel ways to use citrus fiber. This contest is introduced during a time when the food industry is exploding with cleaner and simpler versions of food products that appeal to a knowledgeable growing consumer base. “We are thrilled to offer universities and students an opportunity to apply their food science knowledge and creativity to solve real world challenges.” said Fiberstar, Inc. president and CEO, John Haen.

Gelnex has named its new sales and customer service team for the North American market. Alexandre Assis, Gelnex global sales director, will be taking on the leadership of sales and marketing. “Gelnex has seen some changes in North America,” Assis said. “Over the last 10 years our sales and customer support team has made a huge contribution, greatly building the Gelnex brand. In this new step, we are proudly expanding our North American team, drawing from new talent and the Gelnex ranks within our global network.”

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) showcased its extensive portfolio of ingredients and solutions at IFT. Companies such as Harvest Innovations, Eatem Foods, Specialty Commodities Inc. (SCI) and WILD Flavors have joined with ADM, giving customers access to innovative products, extensive technical expertise and quality service in areas ranging from organic specialty ingredients and natural sweeteners to fats and oils and complete flavor systems.

Hydrocolloids – It’s all about the Gel (Food Business News)

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Donna Berry
(May 17, 2106)

Rich and creamy are attributes consumers expect from dairy products, even when formulations feature reductions in fat. Hydrocolloids can assist. They also assist with managing moisture, keeping it bound so there is no liquid layer on the top of yogurt or sour cream, and for ice crystals not to develop in frozen desserts. In beverages, they prevent grittiness by keeping particulates in suspension.

“Hydrocolloids play a variety of roles in various applications, including suspension, protein stabilization, emulsification and texture modification,” said Donna Klockeman, senior principal food scientist, TIC Gums Inc., White Marsh, Md. “How hydrocolloids are utilized ultimately depends on what the texture and stability needs are for the application. Hydrocolloids not only allow for a variety of textures but most hydrocolloids are also excellent sources of soluble fiber.”

Hydrocolloids is a category of ingredients that contributes to the mouthfeel of dairy products by binding water in the system. With milk being about 87% water, hydrocolloids have their job cut out for them.

They are a group of long-chain polymers — polysaccharides and proteins — and are characterized by the ability to form viscous dispersions or gels by binding water. This function is alluded to in the name, where the prefix “hydro” means water and “colloid” means a gelatinous substance.

Hydrocolloids vary in their gelling properties, with their primary use in dairy products being to stabilize and thicken the system, said Amaia Hauet, research and development manager, Ingredia Inc., Wapakoneta, Ohio. Secondary functions include emulsification, aeration, suspension and encapsulation. The functions vary by application and by hydrocolloid.

“Carrageenan is great for chocolate milk applications,” said Ann Tigges, technical services-dairy, Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Minneapolis. “It is the best for suspending cocoa particles, preventing separation and adding mouthfeel in a neutral calcium-rich environment such as milk.”

Locust bean gum and guar gum long have been the go-to hydrocolloids for mainstream ice cream. “These gums are excellent at trapping water molecules and helping to prevent water migration during the constant freezing, thawing and refreezing inherent to the manufacture, distribution and storage of ice cream,” Ms. Tigges said.

Pectin and gelatin are both popular in yogurt. They work well in low-pH environments and provide desirable sheen. For many, nothing beats gelatin’s melt-in-the-mouth attribute, which makes it very popular in yogurt.

“Pectin delivers ‘spoonability,’ a key attribute consumers expect from yogurt,” Ms. Tigges said. “I’ve seen some yogurt manufacturers combining pectin and agar to replace gelatin. The combination mimics the sheen and cut of gelatin, and has a creamier mouthfeel than just pectin alone.”

But that’s two ingredients instead of simply gelatin.

“No single hydrocolloid can replace gelatin’s unique function in yogurt,” said Lara Niemann, marketing director-Americas, Gelita USA, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. “Gelatin is also known for giving cream cheese spread and whipped toppings a stabilized foam.”

It was not too long ago that product developers were phasing gelatin out of dairy formulations because of the desire for kosher certification. Recognizing that it’s nearly impossible to duplicate the unique and desirable functions gelatin brings to dairy products, Gelita now produces kosher gelatin.

“Gelatin is a highly purified protein, which depending on the application, can act as a fat replacer; a gelling, binding and whipping agent; a stabilizer; an emulsifier; and even as a film and foam former,” Ms. Niemann said.

Hydrated gelatin contributes lubricity to a system. Together with the melt-in-the-mouth attribute, gelatin makes a choice fat replacer in dairy foods.

“Gelatin provides an opportunity to replace a large percentage of a dairy product’s fat content, since gelatin binds large amounts of water,” Ms. Niemann said. “It creates a fat-like matrix in emulsions by exhibiting shear-thinning properties and creaminess.”

Due to its foam-building properties, gelatin may be used to replace some of the fat content of foamed milk-based desserts, such as mousse.

“These are multi-phase emulsions of air, oil and water,” Ms. Niemann said. “Gelatin decreases the surface tension of the water, enabling a foam to be generated by mechanical whipping or by the injection of gas. It then stabilizes the foam by gelling. In products such as half-fat butter, reduced-fat cheese and fat-free ice cream, gelatin helps minimize the absence of fat without compromising on taste.”

When it comes to mimicking fat in ice cream, such gums as locust bean, tara and carrageenan may provide the desired full-body richness of milkfat, said Joshua Brooks, commercial director, Gum Technology, Tucson, Ariz., a business unit of Ingredion Inc. He cautions, however, that there are different types of carrageenan and they vary in functionality.

“Some are brittle while others are smoother and react with milk proteins,” Mr. Brooks said. “Choosing the right carrageenan or usage level of carrageenan and locust bean gum or tara gum is crucial in creating a texture that is appealing.

“The formulator must also avoid over stabilizing the ice cream, which could create an undesirable gumminess.”

This is why hydrocolloid blends often are used, as many hydrocolloids work synergistically to achieve texture and stability goals that the individual ingredients cannot achieve on their own. With many clean label initiatives, synergistic blends may allow for a simpler ingredient legend.

Ingredia provides a line of hydrocolloid-based functional blends for ice cream and frozen desserts.

“One of our stabilizing blends based on xanthan gum and whey protein works in both dairy and non-dairy ice creams,” Ms. Hauet said. “This synergistic combination helps control ice crystal growth and gives the final product a smooth, creamy mouthfeel.

“We also offer hydrocolloid blends for reduced- and low-fat ice cream and frozen desserts. It allows for an overrun up to 125% with minimal shrinkage.”

TIC Gums now offers an extended portfolio of high-performance blends for manufacturers seeking to formulate clean label, high-protein, ready-to-drink beverages.

“We leverage our gum acacia technologies to provide stabilization, emulsification and enhanced mouthfeel in high-protein dairy beverages without increasing viscosity,” said Karen Silagyi, product manager at TIC Gums.

“Hydrocolloids can be used at varying usage levels to meet desired formulation requirements,” Ms. Silagyi added. “For example, we offer a system, which depending upon usage level, can make the same yogurt base be either a thick, spoonable yogurt, or a pourable, drinkable yogurt.”

Amanda Wagner, food scientist, Fiberstar, River Falls, Wis., said, “With the food industry trending toward cleaner labels and increased sustainability, product developers are often limited in their choices of hydrocolloids or are unaware of other ingredients that can function as well as or better than their current hydrocolloid formulation.”

Fiberstar markets citrus fiber derived from orange pulp that may deliver similar functionalities as hydrocolloids in dairy applications with the ability to provide a clean nutritional label, said Jennifer Stephens, director of marketing.

Citrus fiber is composed of insoluble and soluble fibers and protein. The unique structure enables it to function like a traditional hydrocolloid. Functionalities include thickening, emulsifying stabilization, reducing syneresis and fat reduction.

“The key to our citrus fiber’s functionality is its surface area, which contributes to the high-water holding capacity and emulsification properties,” Ms. Wagner said. “Certain citrus fibers contain native pectin, which can be activated to produce gelling properties in high-sugar/low-pH food processing conditions.”

Inulin is another fiber with hydrocolloid attributes.

“When used in dairy products, inulin acts as a texture enhancer and a fat replacer, all while mimicking the mouthfeel and creaminess of fat,” Ms. Hauet said. “It is also a soluble fiber that will help increase the fiber content of the final product. Used in high amounts, this ingredient even has a prebiotic effect.”

Synergies, along with added nutritional benefits, are always a bonus, but formulators must always consider the chance of potential negative ingredient interactions. This is particularly true with high-protein and blended protein systems.

“Using a single-source supplier reduces the possibility of negative interactions, over stabilization, or in some cases, the chance of ingredients competing against each other instead of working together,” Mr. Brooks said.

Ms. Tigges concluded, “The creative use of hydrocolloids can provide for an infinite possibility of textures and solutions.”

New functional ingredients offer added protein, clean-label options (Dairy Foods)

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Native milk protein isolate with high protein

Ingredia supports the development of high-protein products with reduced-lactose using its milk protein ProDiet 90, a native milk protein isolate with a high protein amount: ? 90% on dry matter with a low lactose content of 1%. Produced from fresh milk and processed in less than 24 hours after collection, the protein has high microbiological quality, excellent amino acid profile and milky taste. Proteins are extracted by filtration, keeping the protein in its native form directly from milk.

419-738-4060; www.ingredia-functional.com

 

Premixes meet all monitoring program standards

Fortitech Premixes by DSM is a one-stop source for food, beverage and dietary supplement manufacturers looking to fortification to meet the nutritional needs of consumers around the world.  Having pioneered and developed the field of custom nutrient premixes, the company can assist manufacturers in incorporating any nutrient into any application.  With a stringent Allergen Monitoring Program, its premixes meet cGMP, GMO-free, HACCP, organic, kosher and halal standards.

518-327-5155; www.fortitechpremixes.com

 

Natural ingredient solutions

Chr. Hansen’s Cheddar culture technology, Easy-Set A3000, brings together the taste and texture of traditional mesophilic starters and the dependability of DVS. The product delivers premium quality and flavor, convenient formats, while optimizing the company’s profitability for cheese production and conversion.

800-558-0802; www.chr-hansen.com

 

Advanced clean-label texture and stabilization options

TIC Gums has developed blends using the newest gellan technologies. Products developed for ready-to-drink beverage applications target texture, improve stability and provide cost-in-use savings while adhering to label restrictions. Ticaloid PRO 181 AG helps target texture and stability in dairy alternative beverages. This blend satisfies clean-label requirements, improves processing efficiencies and addresses beverage formulation challenges. It also emulsifies and stabilizes oils found in nondairy milk alternatives such as almond and cashew milk, eliminating the need for soy lecithin.

410-273-7300; www.ticgums.com

 

Natural fiber containing native pectin

Citri-Fi from Fiberstar can replace pectin when used in high-brix/low-pH environments such as yogurt fruit preparations. Because Citri-Fi is made using a mechanical and clean process, the insoluble and soluble fiber stays intact. It offers several advantages over pectin, such as no reactivity with calcium, heat stability and ease of use. Citri-Fi can network and bond with proteins to stabilize them during processing and storage and it produces a smooth mouthfeel which enhances the final texture.

715-425-7550; www.fiberstar.net

 

Protein-rich ingredient solution for snacks

Arla Foods Ingredients’ Health to-Go, an innovative protein-rich ingredient solution, can be used to create convenient snack products. The solution is a combination of Nutrilac PB-8420 proteins and Capolac calcium from milk. It is suitable for use in milk-based drinks, juices and snacks. The company has created Protein & Calcium Bites that offer longer-lasting softness. They are rich in dairy proteins that have excellent amino acid and DIAAS profiles.

908-720-1164; www.arlafoodsingredients.com

 

Superior digestive tolerance, clean taste and texture

Tate & Lyle’s Promitor soluble corn fiber is easily incorporated into a variety of dairy applications, significantly boosting fiber without creating a chalky or grainy mouthfeel. Recent clinical studies show that adding it to a food or beverage improves the absorption of calcium, likely because the soluble corn fiber, acting as a prebiotic, is fermented by the microbiota in the digestive tract, which lowers pH and allows an increase in absorption of calcium and other minerals.

847-396-7500; www.tateandlylefibres.com

 

Soluble dietary fiber ingredients

Fibersol from ADM/Matsutani is compatible with all dairy product applications. It is stable under all processing and packaging conditions and will maintain fiber content during culturing or fermenting. Fibersol can significantly improve the flavor of dairy foods by influencing taste. It also improves the flavor of low-solids dairy foods, classical acidic products and dairy foods to which other flavors may be added.

217-451-4377; www.fibersol.com

 

Ingredient, flavor and blending solutions

Prinova can custom design the formulation of ingredients and concentrations of actives to meet any desired end-use specifications and achieve label claims. Along with its broad range of functional ingredients and custom premixes, its extensive expertise is designed to meet the company’s fortification requirements. The company also offers custom multicomponent liquid formulations and both fat- and water-soluble vitamins.

630-868-0300; www.prinovausa.com

 

Dairy proteins offer nutrition and digestibility

BARsoft from Milk Specialties Global is a highly functional line of dairy proteins designed to provide a soft texture, optimal sensory experience and extended shelf life in high-protein and nutrition bars. This soy-free line of ingredients is composed of whey and milk protein isolates to give superior nutrition and digestibility to snack bars. It has excellent pliability and can last on the shelves for up to 12 months with significantly reduced browning and hardening.

952-942-7310; www.milkspecialties.com

 

Ideal complement to bone health 

Dairy marketers can transform milk products into recovery drinks by adding BASF Nutrition & Health’s Tonalin and vitamin D to help consumers meet their fitness goals. CLA is naturally found in dairy products and meat derived from grass-fed animals. More than 18 clinical studies support its effectiveness, while more than 20 studies support the benefits of chocolate milk for post-exercise recovery. The powerful combination of Tonalin and protein appeals to consumers interested in recovery aids before and after exercising.

800-527-9881; www.newtrition.basf.com

 

Offers rapid and reliable fermentations without compromising on taste and texture

The Yo-Mix R Yogurt cultures series from DuPont Nutrition & Health’s DuPont Danisco range has been specifically designed to target and solve the key challenges facing yogurt manufacturers. This includes high demand, variable quality and providing consumers with a premium yogurt eating experience. Product benefits include high yet short texture, ideal for premium quality set yogurt; fast and reliable acidification time to pH<4.75; speed and mildness suitable for tough cooling conditions; and high performing bacteriophage alternative with minimum quality difference.

800-255-6837; www.food.dupont.com

 

Starter cultures in kefir smoothie

The Ingredient House offers its AiBi starter cultures which are used in products with a “healthier” or “free form” claim and still producing great taste. An award-winning kefir smoothie from manufacturer Bio-tiful was produced using freeze-dried AiBi starter cultures. Made with organic British milk, it is naturally low on lactose, high in nutrition and makes an excellent breakfast, snack or dessert. The cultures provide high quality and flavor characteristics of a fermented milk drink.

910-693-0037; www.theingredienthouse.com

 

Ensemble non-pho emulsifier made specifically for dairy

Alphadim 570, an Ensemble Emulsifier from Corbion is part of the company’s non-PHO line of distilled monoglycerides that have been further processed to increase their monoglyceride content. The Alphadim non-PHO line of distilled monoglycerides can be used in a variety of applications, from ice cream and sour cream to whipped toppings and pudding snacks. It is an ideal choice for emulsifying fat, improving food texture, reducing fat and boosting mouth feel. It’s offered in a drop-in solution.

800-669-4092; www.corbion.com/food

 

Probiotic with liquid delivery system

Frutalose PRO, from Sensus America, is a unique combination of chicory root fiber, a clinically proven prebiotic, and Ganeden BC30, a proven probiotic that come together to create a symbiotic ingredient capable of supporting digestive health claims in a range of applications. The components of Frutalose PRO are heat- and shelf-stable, opening up the potential to apply probiotics in previously untapped categories. In addition, the liquid delivery system eliminates the need to manage frozen cultures or powders.

646-452-6140; www.inspiredbyinulin.com

 

Clean-label functional native rice starch

Beneo’s Remypure is its first functional native rice starch that qualifies for natural and clean label status worldwide. Performance characteristics include stability during processing even under conditions such as low pH, high temperature or high shear. It’s suitable for applications that undergo demanding processing conditions like dairy desserts while permitting natural and clean-label designations. Using only heat in a low-moisture environment is a process that allows native rice starch to achieve performance levels comparable to chemically modified food starches without using any chemicals.

973-867-2140; www.beneo.com

 

Series optimizes protein content and other factors

The Precisa 600 starch series from Ingredion features new starches with differentiated functionality, providing manufacturers with solutions to address varying formulation and process needs, including better viscosity control, elasticity and spreadability; optimized firmness for shredding; a slower/faster gelling rate; and improved melting and emulsification. The series enables manufacturers to reach their cost and sensory targets in everything from pizza cheese and shreds to slices and spreads.

866-961-6285; www.ingredion.us

 

Premium brewed liquid tea extracts

Amelia Bay offers premium brewed clean label teas. Its brewed liquid extracts are clean and easy to use versus batch steeping or working with instant tea powders, and can reduce batching times by up to 50%. Its products enable clear, great-tasting, consistent and stable brewed tea.

770-772-6360; www.ameliabay.com

State of the Industry 2016: Bars continue to address diverse lifestyle needs (Snackfood & Wholesale Bakery)

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(Melissa Kvidahl)
State of the Industry 2016: Bars continue to address diverse lifestyle needs

“The market is growing because bars fit perfectly into our lifestyle,” says Dave Caucutt, vice president of sales and technical services, Lawrence Foods Inc., Elk Grove Village, IL. “We are a mobile society eating many of our meals on the run. Millennials have propelled us all to change to become a snacking culture. And bars carry a healthy halo because they are often fortified to provide a balanced meal alternative.”

Market data

It’s not surprising that bars, appealing to consumers seeking on-the-go snacking, meal replacement options and nutrition, are going strong. According to IRI, Chicago, sales of snack and granola bars grew 4.78 percent in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending April 17, 2016, reaching $5.9 billion.

The “all other” snack/granola bar segment—representing products that don’t easily fit into the breakfast/cereal/snack, granola and nutritional/intrinsic value segments—saw the strongest growth, up 101.38 percent in dollar sales for the year. General Mills posted the most-notable gains, up 347.97 percent in dollar sales. The company also saw a 14.83 percent dollar sales gain for its breakfast/cereal/snack bars. General Mills offers multiple brands of bars, includingNature Valley, Lärabar, Fiber One, Annie’s, Cascadian Farm and Epic, with the latter bringing meat-focused products into the mix.

Nature Valley saw growth of 177.64 percent in all other snack/granola bars and 9.71 percent for its Sweet & Salty granola bars line. But the real standout for the brand was in the breakfast/cereal/snack bars segment, where its Roasted Nut Crunch line grew by 485.43 percent in dollar sales.

The granola bars segment saw growth of 2.4 percent in dollar sales to $1.7 billion. In this segment, KIND Healthy Snacks posted 73.85 percent growth in dollar sales to or $95.2 million. In nutritional/intrinsic health, KIND saw growth of 12.50 percent.

But the most-notable growth in nutritional/intrinsic health was from protein-bar specialist, Quest Nutrition LLC, which saw its bars increase 252.93 percent in dollar sales to nearly $162 million.

Looking back

“With consumers becoming increasingly health-conscious, it’s no surprise that several of the top claims are targeted toward this audience,” says Abby Ceule, director of market management brands, Corbion Caravan, Lenexa, KS. “These claims include gluten-free, GMO-free and organic. Additionally, we are seeing bars with high source of protein and fiber call-outs.”

Indeed, healthy labels are the top trend demanded by today’s bar consumer. However, what constitutes “healthy” runs the gamut.

Protein barsremain in demand. Quest Nutrition is a leader in this segment, and its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar, made with milk and whey protein, is a top seller.

Plant proteins are taking center stage at DuPont Nutrition & Health, St. Louis, which offers a line of soy protein isolates and nuggets developed specifically for use in nutritional bars. “In addition to providing the protein consumers desire and the crunch that increases overall liking, these soy protein ingredients help control the bar texture to deliver on the shelf life requirement needed to succeed in the market,” says Greg Paul, Ph.D., marketing director, nutrition bars and beverages, North America, for the company.

Mamma Chia brought diversity to the bar category in 2014 with its introduction of its organic Chia Vitality bars. Chia offers a source of plant-based protein, omega-3s and other nutritional perks.

KIND also saw strong sales performance over the past year. Its new Healthy Grains Popped Bars include amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa and sorghum, and innovatively feature popcorn as an ingredient.

According to Jamie Wilson, director of marketing and culinary innovation at Parker Products Inc., Fort Worth, TX, ancient grains are also gracing bar labels, thanks to their health benefits and their ability to complement in-demand flavors like sriracha, chile, salted caramel or curry. “In keeping with that trend, we have seen a lot of recent success with our agave-glazed quinoa ingredient,” Wilson adds.

That said, the bar category’s biggest clean-label challenge comes in the form of lowering sugar content. “Bars require a binder?something to keep the ingredients together?and that’s generally a sweetener,” says Wilson. “For an application that consumers perceive as a healthier snack option, that’s a problem when the sweetener is unhealthy.”

Sweeteners that can build label appeal include agave syrup, maple syrup, sweet potato juice concentrate, and fruit ingredients, including fruit fibers and purées and juices.

Fiber continues to attract health-conscious shoppers, and General Mills has found success with its Fiber One bars, often with controlled calorie counts and added protein.

Fiberstar, River Falls, WI, offers the Citri-Fi 100 series, a natural fiber derived from citrus pulp. According to the company’s food technologist, Amanda Wagner, Citri-Fi’s native pectin content translates to unique gelling properties, and the line includes fibers in different particle sizes, which can create different textures from pulpy to smooth in the finished product. “This natural fiber can be labeled citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour,” she adds, “which all resonate well with the clean-label consumer base.”

Demands for healthy snack bars are also transforming how we think about diet foods. According to Paul, “The weight-management category has undergone essentially a complete shift away from weight loss to weight wellness, effectively capturing active-lifestyle consumers looking to maintain weight, in addition to former core weight loss consumers.” This has translated, he says, to the increased presence of unique seeds, nuts, grains and fruits, along with plant proteins, in bar offerings.

According to the Almond Board of California, Modesto, CA, bars with almonds accounted for 13 percent of the bar category’s new product introductions in 2014, with almonds leading other nuts in the bar category.

Portion-controlled and bite-sized offerings also factor into weight management. Over the past year, thinkThin introduced Protein Bites and Protein Nut Bites. The company saw significant gains over the 52 weeks ending April 17, per IRI.

Craig Collett, sales and marketing director, Bosch Packaging Technology Inc, New Richmond, WI, sees weight management influencing packaging solutions. “The on-the-go bar trend engulfing the market requires flexible packaging options, such as flow wrappers,” he says, “which are flourishing as the prime packaging style, reaching the number one packaging format for both regular size bars and bite-size products.”

To meet demand, Bosch Packaging Technology offers the Pack Series of horizontal flow wrappers, which range from entry-level models (such as the Pack 101, which accommodates a wide range of product sizes) to fully automated technologies (such as the Pack 401, which can be used as stand-alone equipment or combined with other processing and packaging machines).

Looking forward

“Customized nutrition will continue to be a great opportunity,” says Jennifer Stephens, vice president of marketing, Fiberstar, citing bars made for specific genders, lifestyles, life stages, activities, diets and medical conditions as holding untapped market potential. “The trick within this category is offering a bar positioned to a captive audience that is large enough to justify the product’s existence,” she says. “Otherwise, it is just another nutrition/snack bar crowding the bar grocery aisle.” She notes particular areas of interest include allergen-free offerings, as well as those that can offer sustained energy.

Collett suggests that the future holds more promise for true meal replacements in bar form, as they offer a healthier option over fast food meals, while “providing the right amount of nutrition in an easy-to-carry format.”

Bars of the future may be targeted toward different consumers altogether. “While current bars skew heavily toward adults, from millennials through Gen X through boomers, we feel the next wave will focus on child and senior nutrition,” says Caucutt.

Brian Gaffney, vice president of dehydrated ingredient sales, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, Nashville, NC, also sees much potential in highly nutritious, kid-friendly bars. “Several major brands have rolled out products that fit this profile recently,” he says. “Two things likely drive the trend: First, as snack companies experience growth from the general strength of the market, they are able to pursue greater segmentation. Secondly, bars make sense as a more-healthy, clean-label snack for parents to give their children.”

But, says Paul, perhaps more important than any trend, “innovation will continue to characterize the nutrition bar market. This is an industry with a relatively low barrier to entry, so competitors will come and go with regularity. However, the consumer trends driving the bar market?convenience and nutrition?are here to stay.”