By Benjamin Ferrer
02 Nov 2022 --- Faced with the task of reformulating to keep pace with ever-evolving appetites, it remains essential for food producers to maintain functionality when switching out outdated “nasties.”
At the top of mind for suppliers and brands, industry at large is now having to make the critical change from harmful colorants in line with shifting regulatory policies, while manufacturers of savory products are now looking to amp up the umami base profile of their flavors using all-natural, minimally processed raw materials.
FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to key ingredient suppliers about their latest R&D highlights that are closing the gap between the artificial additives-free agenda and recipes that look, smell and taste just how consumers expect.
Cleaner white pigments
Most producers are aware that time-held sentiment that “you are what you eat” continues to hold influence among today’s most pronounced purchasing drivers.
With the newly enforced ban on titanium dioxide (TiO2) in Europe and growing consumer concerns about health harms, food producers are seeking TiO2 replacements to give their products an appealing white color in a more natural and safe profile.
One example is Blue California’s patent-pending alternatives, presented as natural options to replace titanium dioxide (E171) with its “brilliant whitening power.”
“The whitening agents are ideal in many applications, including chewing gum, tablets, confectioneries, dairy, plant-based meat alternatives, protein foods, beverages, condiments, sauces and bakery,” David Tetzlaf, director of marketing at Blue California, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Brands can achieve a whiter solution in foods with Blue California’s non-GMO food-grade whitening agents. They are natural, safe, vegan and formulation-friendly. Under heat and pressure, our whitening alternatives are pH-stable.”
Blue California’s product portfolio for nature-based preservation has been expanding rapidly this past year, he continues.
“So far, we have launched several ingredients produced via fermentation or enzymatic bioconversion with our biotech innovation partner, Conagen, to address the natural preservation market, which includes Rosavel rosmarinic acid and Taxifolin BC-DHQ.”
“We expanded our portfolio with p-coumaric acid and hydroxytyrosol,” Tetzlaf adds. “We also have botanically extracted ferulic acid in our portfolio.”
“These compounds are potent antioxidants naturally found in nature, such as in fruits, vegetables and grains. They can be a great alternative to synthetic preservatives like BHA, BHT and synthetic nitrates.”
France recently led the charge in approving a new bill with targets to gradually cut down the use of nitrates in cured meats. Taste and nutrition giant Kerry previously evidenced nitrates are increasingly viewed as “no-no” ingredients.
Earlier this year, researchers from the American Chemical Society developed a color-changing film that consumers can stick onto foods and quickly analyze nitrite levels by snapping a picture with a smartphone.
Meanwhile, Dutch meat brand Vaess eliminated nitrite from its bacon products with a brine compound, while Japanese researchers discovered that resveratrol from the country’s knotweed holds the potential to replace nitrate preservatives.
Craving natural umami hits
Clearly evidenced on the market, the demand for clean label umami raw materials and sweeteners is increasingly highlighted.
“Meanwhile, some natural extracts or fermented raw materials – such as eryrobitol – are garnering more attention,” says Li Pei, general manager of the Protein Nutrition and Flavoring technical center at Angel Yeast.
Eric Ao, general manager of Angel Yeast Europe Division, shares that the company has recently increased the production scale and upgraded the fermentation technology of its high nucleotide yeast extract products in the Xiaoting and Binzhou factories to meet the growing clean label demand in umami flavors.
Among Angel Yeast's newly launched clean-label products is its umami-rich yeast extract, debuted under the Angeoboost KU series.
“Moreover, we have launched a yeast protein, AngeoPro F80, that contains more than 75% of protein,” Ao adds. “As a sustainable source of microbial protein, it has a comprehensive nutrition, minimizes environmental impact, requires limited land use for cultivation and is less affected by harvest and seasonality that plant-based protein production is subjected to.”
“Yeast extract is recognized as a natural substitute for artificial umami agents that meet the needs of ‘MSG-free’,” says Ao. “Besides, we are launching compound flavor peptide products with a better umami taste.”
In addition to yeast extract, umami substances are also obtained from plant-derived natural raw materials such as soybean and wheat, so as to provide a cleaner umami alternative for food seasonings, he notes.
Among Angel Yeast’s newly launched clean label products is its umami-rich yeast extract, debuted under the Angeoboost KU series (Credit: Angel Yeast).
According to Innova Market Insights, healthier sauces crafted with organic veggies and spices, choices mixed with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as turmeric, sauces blended with fruit puree and wine is spurring NPD across North America.
The market researcher highlights that positionings growing in popularity during the April 2021 to March 2022 period in North America include: “organic, natural, indulgent and premium, no added sugar, plant-based, low/no/reduced fat, low/no/reduced sodium and sugar-free.”
The expansion of natural ingredients’ range of functionalities speaks to the continued diversification of the clean label sector, and it is apparent this theme will not be slowing down.