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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
From protein to elderberry, suppliers formulated today’s hottest ingredients into innovative foods and drinks at IFT 2019.
Part of what makes the Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo so thrilling each year is watching ingredient suppliers demonstrate what’s possible in terms of formulating with their ingredients. This year’s IFT show in June was no different. We spoke with two companies-Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM; Chicago, IL) and Prinova (Carol Stream, IL)-who displayed new and creative product prototypes that perfectly fit with some of today’s hottest trends.
Plant Protein Everywhere
ADM flexed its expertise and its broad portfolio to demonstrate how plant proteins can be incorporated in everything from a delicious shawarma bite to frozen dessert. At the show, the company demonstrated the following plant-based concepts: a plant-based shawarma bite, a vegan frozen dessert, a “banana bread bite” for brain health, a “kombucha bite” for gut health, kimchi veggie chips, and cacio e pepe veggie chips.
Ana Ferrell, vice president of marketing, North America, ADM, said that alternative proteins are “top of mind” for the company these days as the firm uses its expertise to guide formulators to new ways of incorporating plant proteins-something the company demonstrated with its samples at IFT. “It’s how best to meet this flexitarian lifestyle that we’re seeing that is really taking over across all categories,” Ferrell said.
She continued: “I would say the biggest area of opportunity that we see, and we are very well poised in that sense, is that many companies have to overcome taste-related challenges when working with alternative proteins. As a company, we bring it all together because from a flavor and essentials expertise to food bases in our culinary part of the business, we can solve for pretty much any taste challenge, in any application form, and then of course also for texture,” including by blending different protein sources for optimal results. She also pointed out that the companies that ADM has acquired over time have resulted in a large portfolio of ingredients and expertise in solving for protein challenges.
ADM’s IFT samples drew from a number of plant protein sources, including soy protein isolates, concentrates, and crisps; chickpea powder, as well as other pulses and pulse flours; and a range of nut butters (almond, cashew, etc.). Nut butters work especially well in dairy, said Ferrell. “We are seeing that in dairy replacement, nut butters are really a great way to address the protein intake.” At IFT, the company’s coffee and caramel non-dairy frozen dessert featured cashew butter. Nut butters work across a wide variety of products, the company says, including drinkable yogurts, spreads, dips, and more.
Ferrell said that ADM will continue offering itself as a solutions provider. “We’ve really taken an approach this year of determining what are some of the trending developer challenges? What are those really big areas where we know there are some real challenges, and how can we help solve them?” She said a lot of attention continues to be paid in the areas of plant based, gluten free, sugar reduction, and cleaner labels.
“You’re going to see a lot of that positioning as we continue to evolve the portfolio and bring more capabilities,” she said. “It’s going to be less about ingredients and more about how we help companies solve for formulation challenges so they can be successful with consumers. We’re connecting with customers in a much different way now, and that way, we innovate together.”
Hot Concepts, Hot Ingredients
Prinova is also increasingly seeing customers turn to the company for advice, and the company is well equipped to provide a broad range of solutions, it says. At IFT, the company showcased prototypes that hit on a number of popular consumer demands and ingredients.
Energy products are in high demand, and at IFT, Prinova sampled a “Sustained Energy Beverage” in orange pineapple mango. One of the key ingredients was Bioenergy Life Science’s (Minneapolis) Bioenergy Ribose ingredient (D-ribose), along with B vitamins. At IFT, Jeremiah Yartym, senior formulation scientist, said, “D-ribose is doing the majority of the work. It sustains energy by being a sugar that takes longer to break down.”
In the energy category, Yartym said, “Everyone is always looking for a caffeine replacer, for non-stimulant energy beverages.” Finding replacers is tougher than it might seem, he said, “because caffeine itself is a vasodilator. It increases the blood flow and increases the size of your capillaries and arteries to help the blood flow to your body. There aren’t many other food ingredients that can do that.”
The company also showcased samples highlighting trending herbal extracts, such as a “Relaxation Beverage Elderberry White Tea,” as well as nutricosmetic gummies (“Beauty Bear Gummies Grapefruit Rose").
Brain health was also a big focus for the company at the show. “A lot of people are asking for cognitive-health ingredients right now,” said Zach Savino, marketing communications specialist, Prinova Group, at IFT. “It’s such a new category, and it’s expanding so quickly that I don’t think people necessarily know what ingredients they should be using in those products.” At the show, Prinova previewed its brand-new, patent-pending, clinically studied brain-health ingredient called NeuroBloom, containing Centella asiatica, Panax ginseng, alpha-lipoic acid, and selenium.
Both Savino and Yartym talked about how Prinova can help companies formulate with some of these ultra-popular ingredients, without ending up with just a “me too” product.
“We’ve seen more product development requests come in the more Prinova has diversified as a company,” said Savino. “We started off as just an ingredient broker, then a distributor, then we added a flavor house, and then we added our precision blending capabilities. Once we got that message out to people and they saw how we can really help take our product from a concept all the way to a finished good for them, I’d say they’re using the product development aspect way more than they used to. It helps us get entrenched in their business so that we can learn who they are as a company and help guide them forward.”
And as attention-getting as collagen, protein, and herbal extracts are these days, Yartym also advised formulators to remember those “tried and true” ingredients with proven science behind them. “You’re always going to have those core ingredients that work for those core items, and then we’re always looking out for other ingredients and other flavors…It’s almost going back 'old school,' going back to the basics of finding new ways to use some of your typical vitamins and minerals in a different light. You see magnesium in a relaxation beverage. Magnesium is a cheaper ingredient, and it’s effective in those types of beverages…I think that’s an interesting [development] that we’ve seen, not only using the hot ingredients out there but going back to the old standard basic of vitamins and minerals and using them in a different way.”