The use of soluble gas stabilization technology on food – A review

Website Link (Article by Esmaeilian et. al. 2021)

Highlights

  • Consumer demand for minimally processed foods is rising.
  • Thermal and non-thermal methods tend to reduce food quality for extending shelf life.
  • Soluble gas stabilization technology improves conventional food treatments efficacy.
  • Soluble gas stabilization combined with conventional food treatments is reviewed.

Abstract

Background

Increasing the shelf life of perishable food products contributes to lower food waste and the possibility of widening distribution outreach in the food value chain.

Soluble gas stabilization (SGS) technology is a pre-step process of dissolving carbon dioxide (CO2) into the product before packaging. This technology shows promising results on the lab-scale to limit microbial growth and other deteriorating mechanisms in food products.

Scope and approach

This review aims to gather available research results on the effects of combining SGS technology or dissolved CO2 with thermal and non-thermal processing technologies. The effects are structured according to the microbiological shelf life and safety as well as food quality parameters such as texture, color, drip losslipid oxidation, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) degradation.

This paper reviews the SGS effects alone and in combination with conventional food treatments on the parameters mentioned above.

Key findings and conclusions

Improving thermal and non-thermal technologies efficacy meets the demand for better food quality while being more economically feasible. Combining dissolved CO2 with these treatments, as hurdle technology, considerably enhances the bacteriostatic effect of the treatments, mostly without compromising the product quality.

However, it is highly dependent on the product kind, treatment method, experiment protocol, and composition and concentration of the product microbiota.

Moreover, the extent of positive synergistic effects could be promoted by addressing specific problems such as gas layer formation during sous vide treatment.

This paper provides a better understanding of the SGS effectiveness, performing beside conventional food processing technologies, for the full-scale implementation of the technology.

Consumers demand more choice and innovation in low and no alcohol drinks

Website Link (Article by Rachel Arthur)

Despite the growth of the low and no alcohol category, only a third of consumers say they are satisfied with current products on the market, according to a new survey. So what can be done to improve them?

Research carried out by flavour and fragrance company Givaudan across 6,000 European consumers shows that 60% of alcohol drinkers in Europe are reducing their consumption.

The key drivers behind this ‘mindful drinking’ trend include improving general wellbeing (38%) saving money (33%) and improving physical fitness (31%).

Consumers seek out low/no alcohol products across three key occasions: low-key moments of the day (often at home, like reading outdoors or taking a bath); moments of casual conversation (such as over food, like a dinner party); and upbeat times shared with others (a night out with friends).

And yet despite this demand and the size of the opportunity, only a third of respondents in the survey said they were satisfied with current products on the market, suggesting greater innovation in the space is desperately needed. Specific issues were found with the taste of products (35% identified this as an area for improvement) and lack of depth (29%), while 24% of respondents said products weren’t easily available.

Meet the occasion

The most important thing to bear in mind when seeking to improve products is not to expect a one-size-fits-all answer, warns Igor Parshin, Givaudan’s Regional Category Manager for Beverages.

The company’s survey makes it evident the category is catering for a wide range of consumers, desires and occasions – so it follows that innovations should be targeted towards sub-groups accordingly. 

Types of consumer and drinking occasion

Givaudan’s research groups mindful drinkers into 5 categories with different attitudes towards moderation:

  • ‘wellness warriors’ (seeking good health)
  • ‘balanced hedonists’ (seeking fun)
  • ‘self-control strivers’ (seeking control)
  • ‘cautious conformer’ (seeking value and belonging)
  • ‘pragmatic moderates’ (avoiding alcohol)

“It very much depends upon the consumer profile and the occasion, with a different focus in terms of ingredients, value, and taste directions required for each,”​ he told us.

“What is clear is that one size doesn’t fit all consumers or occasions, and this creates great opportunities for drinks manufacturers to develop alternatives that are targeted at special moments or specific consumer profiles.

“For example, top notes such as citrus create zingy excitement, berry notes are associated with fun, sociability and indulgence and elements such as hops and botanical extracts can add complexity, sophistication and authenticity to the taste.

“Mouthfeel and visual appeal are also important and creating the right look and drinking experience is key to creating a more satisfying and mindful moment for consumers.”

Innovations also need to go beyond the liquid itself, he continues.

“This is also quite a new category, and our research has also shown that creating the right experience and ritual is important for each drink and moment. 

“We look at whether products are more suitable for home consumption or a bar or restaurant as well as serving suggestions for consumers and what to mix with a drink, to create different experiences. 

“This is another key contributor to the overall experience of the drink and its ultimate success.”

Listen to what consumers want

Over in the beer category, Theo Wijsman, Product Application Expert Beverage, DSM Food Specialties agrees that it’s about focusing in on specific needs and desires of consumers.

With beer, the main health and wellness concern focuses on the effect beer consumption has on the waistline.

Another consumer trend within the no and low beer category he suggests brands tap into is the popularity of low and free-from gluten beers – according to its research, just over half of beer drinkers worldwide said they found a gluten-free claim appealing.

In response, DSM has been looking at how to formulate good tasting alcohol-free beers without gluten – specific protease enzymes can be used to help break down gluten chains in beers made with grains such as wheat, rye and barley. “The enzyme has no impact on the beer taste, foam or quality, enabling brewers to create gluten-free products without compromising on consumer experience.”

He also identifies the ideas of sustainable low and no calorie consumers as those gaining traction with consumers, particularly those that use locally available raw materials. “Using adjunct brewing solutions like Brewers Compass can provide the enzymes that are usually developed by malting barley and are needed to complement the enzymes naturally present in the crop. This reduces the need for imported malt and enables the use of a wide variety of locally available raw materials, supporting the local circular economy while also reducing costs and enabling greater flexibility in recipe formulation.”

What will tomorrow’s consumer be looking for?

Health and wellness will continue to drive the category over the next two years, predicts Parshin of Givaudan, while the concepts of creativity and experience will become more important.

“Consumers are increasingly seeking delicious drinks that do good for mind and body; 38% of consumers questioned in our research report choosing lo- and no-alcohol options to help improve their health and well-being. 

“This was the top answer in response to this question and we believe this will continue to be one of the main drivers behind consumers choosing low- and no- options in years ahead.

Low- and no-alcohol beer represents the biggest opportunity in low- and no-alcohol drinks (5% of the total beer market in 2020). In 2020 it is estimated at a total value of €5.7bn ($6.63bn) in Western Europe and is forecasted to grow to €8.1bn ($9.42bn) by 2025.

However, other emerging categories including low- and no-alcohol spirits, liqueurs, and aperitifs are catching up.

“With 30% of consumers saying they have been attempting to get more creative in the kitchen over the last 18 months a key trend is consumers looking to mix their own drinks at home. 

Home cocktails have become very popular, and consumers are looking for the option to mix drinks with new flavour combinations, giving them more control over the ingredients and an activity to focus on. 

“This trend toward wanting to create a unique and enjoyable drink at home will be a key factor in shaping the products that are created in future.

“Finally, getting the right experience, taste and format to complement life’s important moments – whether that is relaxing in the evening after work, or going out to a party, or a moment of connection with friends and family – is a big factor in consumer choice. As our research shows, each occasion calls for a different blend of tastes. As the way we socialise and choose to relax continues to evolve, new drinks will be created to complement these.” 

Wijsman of DSM says consumers will pay more attention to ingredients as time goes along – the company’s research shows 40% of consumers want to pay more attention to beer ingredients.

“Alongside this, ready-to-drink products that feature better-for-you claims are expected to accelerate in popularity, as consumers embrace ‘transformative’ beverages with new, exciting tastes. Hard seltzers, for example, which are low in calories and alcohol compared to spirits, provide an appealing option for today’s ‘sober curious’ consumers and have seen a wave of new product launches.” 

Collection – the foundation for flexible packaging’s circular economy

Website Link (Article by Packagingeurope)

Collecting flexible packaging is key for a circular economy because it sources the feedstock for future sustainable products and CEFLEX, an industry-led project, thinks minor adjustments to Europe’s existing waste systems can help send more of these soft plastics where they need to go.

Around 26 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Europe each year with just under a third of that collected for recycling – it’s even less for flexible packaging where around 17% is transformed into a new raw material.

Most flexible packaging in Europe is collected through the residual general waste stream, but only some of it is captured in separate collection schemes,” said Michael Minch-Dixon, who works on collection at the Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) project, a collaboration of over 170 European companies, associations and organizations representing the entire value chain of flexible packaging.

We estimate that about 5.6 million tonnes per year of consumer flexible packaging is placed on the market. This includes plastic, paper and aluminum. Approximately 60% of this is mono material packaging to be sorted into recycling streams. These significant volumes of material need to be collected for sorting as we move to the circular economy – and collection is the key point where it moves from the consumer into a formal waste collection system” says Michael.

In a recent position statement, CEFLEX stakeholders agreed that 100% of flexible packaging must be targeted for collection and sorting, including on-the-go packaging. ‘Separate collection of flexible packaging at source is preferred or alternatively combined with other packaging, including rigid plastics, metal and beverage cartons’ states the position.

Waste needs to be made available for sorting in a way that maximizes recycling and material returned to the economy. Separately collected material tends to be easier to sort, cheaper to recycle and helps maximize quality” adds Minch-Dixon. “We need to make this easy, convenient and effective for consumers and sorters with a recognizable and harmonized approach across Europe.” Michael continues to explain there are also higher participation rates from society when there is kerbside collection, rather than a drop-off system.

Another element that should be harmonized according to CEFLEX is that paper and plastic flexible packaging is not collected together. “Whilst these two materials can, and are, sorted together, experience shows that it’s not easy and the contamination levels of both the paper and plastic bales are higher where sorting plants processes these together,” Michael says. 

A relatively ‘quick win’ to boost circularity?

Separate collection can and is happening – and  it doesn’t have to cost the Earth, as the systems are broadly already in place,” states Michael. According to CEFLEX, consumer flexible packaging is being separately collected in at least 18 EU countries and post sorting of municipal solid waste is extending the quantity of material targeted for sorting in key countries.

An entire spectrum of collection strategies, like deposit schemes for bottles for example, deployed across Europe exist and provide opportunities to collect more, better. But Michael believes scaling up separate collection would see Europe “make significant strides towards circularity” of flexible packaging with only minor adjustments to existing infrastructure and investment.

In Belgium, 95% of all household packaging was collected in 2020 through Fost Plus. Their ‘New Blue Bag’ of PMD mixed recyclables collected an additional 90,000 tonnes of extra packaging annually that, until recently, still ended up in the residual waste. An average of 8 kilograms of additional PMD is now collected per person.

Even when flexible packaging is not separately collected meaningful progress can be made. “In countries like Spain and The Netherlands there are examples of wind sifters and other sorting equipment being used to extract plastic packaging from the waste stream going into incinerators. This enables the incinerator to process greater volumes of material and also an opportunity for the packaging to re-enter the circular economy. Material can then go into a sorting plant and be baled into relevant fractions,” he outlines.

We have the understanding of the technologies, and they are operating at scale, so we just have to replicate best practice,” said Michael. “What we need to do is work on the business case for circularity on a national basis because each country has a different collection strategy.”

Putting the pieces into practice

CEFLEX suggests that collection systems have good potential to evolve – relatively quickly and easily compared to other end of life systems – to give far more access to raw materials for sorting and recycling.  For example, CEFLEX’s recommendations would not require a new fleet of trucks to start doing additional rounds or introducing dedicated containers and end collecting flexibles and paper together.

Separate collection scheme costs vary, but recent analysis by Suez commissioned by CEFLEX looked at real world data and put the cost of collection between €100–250 per tonne and a CO2e footprint of between 30–50kg CO2 per tonne in northern European countries.  

The main economic challenge facing widespread adoption of separate collection is found further up the value chain, where sorting and recycling facilities need the right infrastructure to incentivize the right collection of flexible packaging.

CEFLEX hopes their economic analysis and position paper can generate greater investor confidence in the right circular solutions. “The economics for recycling of flexible packaging is, by and large, not there yet. For example, if you want to sort out a non-LDPE (low-density polyethylene) flexible packaging and create a mixed plastic bale, you’re going to have to pay at least €200 a tonne,” Michael said. “But economic opportunities and environmental benefits are within reach; and a range of political and market forces are giving added momentum to the circular economy of flexible packaging.”

One systemic piece of the puzzle is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). “Recycling flexible packaging needs the support of EPR schemes to bridge the difference between returning materials to the circular economy and what people are currently willing to pay for these products. Evolving the EPR system to incentivize better design as well as drive better sorting. Sorted bales currently have a wide range of values from +100 euro for very high-quality bales of municipally collected waste to -200€ for mixed plastics,” outlines Minch-Dixon.

But the bottom line is: if it isn’t collected, then we cannot make progress throughout the system. As we move to circularity and more ambitious recycling targets, there’s an additional incentive to put more thought into the collection, sorting and recycling of flexible packaging.”

Out of these three steps, we can and should be making light work of progress through separate collection to capture resources in the best way possible,” says Michael.  

‘Potatoes with purpose’: First carbon neutral spud produced for UK market

Website Link (Article by Flora Southey)

Grown using sustainable farming practices and packaged in plastic-free bags, the carbon neutral spuds will be the first of many products to tackle the food industry’s ‘huge impact’ on climate change, hopes Puffin Produce CEO Huw Thomas.

Grown by Puffin Produce in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Root Zero potatoes have achieved carbon neutral certification.

According to Puffin Produce, the decision to go climate neutral was prompted by a desire to reduce the negative impacts of agri-food production on climate change.

“The food system contributes up to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions which are causing the planet to heat up faster than ever before. We have to act now – so we’re on a mission to become carbon neutral and farm in a way that protects and regenerates our land, plants and wildlife,”​ said Huw Thomas, CEO of Puffin Produce.

“This isn’t easy. We’ve engaged the best scientific advice and partnered with organisations who are helping us to measure, reduce and certify our impact. 

A collaborative approach to carbon neutrality

Puffin Produce measures its environmental impact on-farm with the Cool Farm Tool. Specifically, the tool measures its on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and soil carbon sequestration.

The producer has also worked with management consultancy 2Keel to calculate its carbon footprint, help select carbon offset projects, and design carbon removal initiatives.

“We believe in complete transparency and the only real way to measure our true impact when we count carbon is to count all of it,” ​according to the Root Zero brand.

“We have therefore measured every single thing that contributes to our carbon footprint – from the lights in our offices and factory, to the transport used to take Root Zero potatoes to the supermarkets, even down to the way you cook your spuds at home.” ​ Puffin Produce is addressing GHG emissions within its own operations and its wider value chain – covering scope 1,2 and 3 emissions.

The total carbon footprint of its business in 2019-2020 was 24,612 tonnes CO₂e. The carbon emissions from these calculations equates to 0.532kg CO₂e for every kg of potatoes sold.

Reducing CO₂e emissions

Root Zero is minimising GHG emissions from its production process by improving its farming, production, and transport practices.

In production, for example, the company is growing new varieties of potato that do not require storage at low temperatures.

Concerning packaging, Root Zero is certified 100% plastic-free. The paper used in its packaging is FSC certified, meaning it is made from 100% renewable materials. Innovations in water-based inks and adhesive technology make the paper bag completely recyclable. It is also home-compostable – when added to a garden compost heap it will decompose in around 200-300 days.

In farming, Root Zero is using more fuel-efficient tractors and electric cars, with the aim of transitioning to 100% green electricity from 2023.

Further, the business also plans to generate its own green energy by installing solar panels at its production site and wind turbines on its farms. Biodiversity is key pillar in Puffin Produce’s sustainability framework. The company plants cover crops to build up carbon and feed the soil with nutrients, sequester carbon, provide food and habitat for wildlife and attract essential pollinators, all the while helping to prevent soil erosion.

The company surrounds its fields by hedgerows, which similarly benefit wildlife and pollinators.“Climate change is affecting everything we do, putting soil, wildlife and our ability to grow at risk. We’re developing new techniques and learning from climate change experts to increase our management of the land and ensure our natural environment is strong and resilient,”​ said Thomas.

“Root Zero is about growing responsibly and respecting nature, farming in a way that minimises or captures carbon, nurtures healthy soils and protects our local biodiversity. Our hope is that what we learn from Root Zero can offer a more sustainable future for agriculture for Pembrokeshire and beyond.”

Offsetting carbon via international projects

While Root Zero’s priority is to reduce its emissions as much as possible, it has also selected projects to offset its ‘unavoidable’ GHG emissions.

For every 1,000t of Root Zero potatoes it sells, 586t of CO₂e is offset via three international projects.

In Nicaragua, Root Zero is helping fund a bamboo afforestation project, in India, the brand is helping to provide a safe supply of drinking water, and in Rwanda Root Zero is giving families access to clean cooking stoves that are more energy efficient than open fire cooking methods.

Looking to the future, Root Zero is committed to net zero emissions by 2050. In the meantime, the company has set its own interim targets.

By 2030, the company aims to reduce the carbon intensity of its potatoes by 51%, and to reduce operational emissions by 46%.

Trending plant proteins

Website Link (Article by Jeff Gelski)

Surging, emerging and flourishing all could describe the plant protein category. Pea protein continues to increase in popularity and may keep surging for the rest of this decade. Other protein sources, like lupin bean, are emerging, and plant protein sales in general are flourishing. Selecting the appropriate protein source for baked foods applications may depend on price, nutrition and flavor. Soy protein is an example of a cost-effective option, and almond protein’s flavor may please consumers.

US retail sales of plant-based foods grew 27% in 2020, bringing the market value to $7 billion, according to data from the Plant Based Foods Association, San Francisco, and The Good Food Institute, Washington. Fifty-seven percent of US households said they purchased plant-based foods in 2020, which was up from 53% in 2019. In comparison, the total US retail food market increased 15% in 2020 as COVID-19 shuttered restaurants and consumers stocked up on food. A report from The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash., released this year revealed 48% of consumers are looking for products labeled as plant-based.

A survey from Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., found 67% of respondents in 2020 said added protein was important when buying a food or beverage, which was up from 57% in 2017.

Sixty-five percent of US consumers in the study stated that they are looking for a good source of plant protein, so there definitely has been a shift in consumer perception of plant-based ingredients and proteins,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, marketing manager, bakery and confectionery categories for Ingredion. “In the same study, 64% of consumers said they are willing to pay more for foods made with plant-based ingredients, and 68% attribute more value to high protein claims.”

Expect sales of pea protein, with its non-GMO and non-allergenic traits, to increase. Future Market Insights, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, forecast the global pea protein market will reach $3.2 billion in 2021 and then climb to $12.31 billion by the end of 2031 thanks to a compound annual growth rate of 14%. Future Market Insights forecast the US market for pea protein to account for nearly 82% of the North American market by 2031.

Pea protein is sourced from yellow pea seed varieties specially selected to minimize off-notes, said McKenna Mills, senior technical services specialist for bakery for Cargill, Minneapolis. The peas then are processed without the use of hexanes to bring out the best possible flavor. Cargill and Puris, a pea-based ingredient company that contracts with farmers, operate a joint venture that offers different pea proteins for different application needs.

For example, some Puris pea protein SKUs (stock-keeping units) are better suited to crackers where it’s important to prevent staling and moisture migration,” Ms. Mills said. “Other SKUs work better in breads where controlling dough viscosity is a bigger priority. Puris even offers pea protein crisps, a great way to introduce a unique texture experience into a bar or snacking application.”

Globally, overall food and beverage product launches that promote pea protein have doubled in the last five years, said Stephanie Mattucci, associate director, global food science for Mintel. Year-to-date pea protein has been promoted in about 1% of overall global new product food and beverage launches, which compares to less than 0.5% five years ago, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD).

Now pea protein has certainly become the darling of the plant-based movement, but it wasn’t an overnight success,” Ms. Mattucci said Aug. 25 in the Trends and Innovation virtual webinar presented by Food Business News, a sister publication of Milling & Baking News.

A sweeter lupin

CK Ingredients, Oakville, Ont., is working to grow awareness and use of lupin beans.

CK has been devoted to growing this market for six years now,” said Michael Chernyak, president. “Innovation takes time to launch and needs to be adaptable to be a solution to consumers’ problems that are hard to articulate in the early days. Finally, we are getting to a point where we can articulate consumers’ desires for front-of-pack claims — verbiage like plant-based protein, ‘high in protein,’ ‘high in fiber,’ ‘keto,’ ‘low-net carb,’ ‘diabetic-friendly,’ ‘low-glycemic index,’ ‘sustainable,’ and ‘superfood.’

It’s a very complete food,” he said. “We don’t stand up next to pea and rice protein concentrates and isolates, as they are strictly protein stories, while we’re much more than that.”

Potential applications for lupin beans include baked foods, bakery mixes, snacks, crackers and pasta as well as plant-based dairy alternatives, plant-based meat alternatives, smoothie mixes, oatmeal, granola and nutrition snack bars.

We believe that lupin bean will co-exist with pea protein and other plant protein sources — that they will be used in combination, to assist food developers in meeting nutritional/formulation targets,” Mr. Chernyak said.

Soy, wheat leading sources

While pea protein has increased in use, it still trails other plant protein sources. About 3% of global new food and beverage product launches contained soy protein in 2020, and more than 2% featured wheat protein, according to Mintel GNPD data.

Soy protein has good supply chain availability and is cost-effective, said Ms. Mills of Cargill.

It’s also highly functional,” she said. “Soy flour is used in baked goods, especially sweet baked goods like snack cakes, for partial replacement of eggs as a cost-saving measure. It can also improve the elasticity of doughs, help control the viscosity of batters and enhance the crumb structure of breads. In donuts and other fried products, soy protein can help reduce fat absorption. It’s also used in some gluten-free bakery applications where it adds body and viscosity to batters.”

Manildra USA, Leawood, Kan., offers GemPro wheat proteins, each one with a unique functional benefit, said Brook Carson, vice president of product development.

For example, GemPro HPG is used to enhance texture by providing a firm and chewy bite,” she said. “GemPro Plus is ideal for replacing eggs in cakes because it provides enough structure to support volume but also resilience.”

Adding GemPro Prime-W helps to achieve a soft and chewy bite in cookies. Gem Pro Ultra’s solubility works well for soft baked cookies. GemPro 4400 gives formulators a slightly more rigid cookie. In muffins, GemPro Plus boosts resilience and GemPro 3300 promotes aeration.

By considering the rheology in production and the texture of the finished product, you can select the best GemPro ingredient to meet your protein goals,” Ms. Carson said. “Wheat protein has a unique viscoelastic quality, contributing to the ability to give strength and a nice, chewy bite to bakery and snacks. However, when we take full advantage of this unique quality, we can enhance texture in more ways than ever before.”

The case for quinoa flour

Both Ardent Mills LLC, Denver, and Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., are working with quinoa flour and pulse flour.

Ardent Mills completed the acquisition of Hinrichs Trading Co., a chickpea sourcing, cleaning and packaging business based in Pullman, Wash., earlier this year. Chickpeas, along with yellow peas, lentils and beans, are pulses. Ardent Mills sources quinoa from Colorado. Chickpeas contain essential amino acids, including lysine and arginine, but they are deficient in the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine, which can be complemented by adding cereals to the diet, said Angela Ichwan, senior director of research and development for the Annex by Ardent Mills, a business of Ardent Mills. Chickpea protein works in protein blends because it has a subtle flavor that does not overpower the taste profile of the finished product, she added.

Both quinoa flour and pulse flour perform well in a variety of applications, including gluten-free or traditional baked foods, batters and breadings, pasta and more, said Erin Nese, technologist, commercial innovation acceleration for Ingredion. The company’s Homecraft pulse flours range from 10% to 30% protein on a dry basis. Homecraft Quinoa 112 flour is 12% to 13% protein on a dry basis.

Quinoa and pulse flours provide more protein, fiber and micronutrients compared to traditional gluten-free flours such as rice or tapioca.

Using Homecraft pulse flours can improve gluten-free crumb color and browning in baked goods, deliver a crispy texture in snack applications, and provide good product volume and shelf life stability in gluten-free sweet goods,” Ms. Nese said. “Using Homecraft Quinoa 112 flour can improve freeze/thaw stability of gluten-free bread, help with dough handling and moisture retention in gluten-free pizza crust, and can replace up to 100% of bulk flour in a gluten-free cookie.”

The flavor of almonds

Almond protein powder provides taste and texture benefits along with high-fiber and low-fat content, said Laura Gerhard, vice president of Blue Diamond Global Ingredients Division, Sacramento, Calif. It helps create a mild and balanced flavor profile that complements virtually any application.

Also, the powder is milled to an ultra-fine granulation, allowing for a smooth mouthfeel,” she said. “The combination of these attributes makes it possible for formulators to use almond protein powder as a base for protein-enriched bakery products that have great taste, ideal texture and a simpler label.

In cookies and brownies, almond protein powder provides a neutral background to build a desired flavor profile, and it has high water-absorption properties that allow for chewier textures, she said.

Almond protein powder may be incorporated into gluten-free flour mixes as well.

Other plants to consider

A variety of plants are showing up in items from Rich Products Corp., Buffalo, NY. Plant-based pizza crusts and flatbreads combine wheat with vegetables like cauliflower, sweet potato and zucchini, said Julie Altobello, senior marketing manager of health and authenticity. Each vegetable has its own flavor profile.

We also have a sweet potato brioche and cauliflower roll dough, which add another element of yum to sandwiches,” she said.

More consumers are recognizing plant-based foods can be a part of their diets.

They don’t have to be vegan, vegetarian or follow a restrictive diet to eat plant-based,” Ms. Altobello said. “Plant-based can be just as flavorful and indulgent as animal-based products. It’s about making the foods consumers love even better by using ingredients they feel good about eating.” 

Stability and stabilization of omega-3 oils: A review

Website Link (Article by Wang et. al. 2021)

Highlights

  • Traditional technologies provide significant stabilization approaches to omega-3 oils
  • Blending, randomization and enzyme-catalyzed conversion have been used to produce omega-3 phenolipids
  • Omega-3 phenolic antioxidant produced from structural modifications can be promoted as nutraceuticals
  • Emulsion and encapsulation, especially those involving micro/nano-technologies should be promoted to protect omega-3 oils.

Background

Omega-3 oils are rich sources of essential fatty acids and play a key role in biological functions in the body and sensory attributes in food systems. The high content of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids leads to high vulnerability of omega-3 oils to oxidation, and thus causes deterioration of their nutritional values and biological functions. Stabilization technologies continue to be important research topics for both academia and industry.

Scope and approach

We have reviewed traditional and newly-developed stabilization technologies applied to omega-3 oils with proven efficacy in preventing or inhibiting lipid oxidation. These methods were developed to target one or more factors that determine oxidative stability of omega-3 oils.

Key findings and conclusions

The effective traditional stabilization technologies, including the removal of oxygen and catalysts, and the addition of antioxidants should be further studied for their safety, synergistic effect and as affected by packaging material.

Newly-developed stabilization technologies, such as blending, randomization and enzyme-catalyzed conversion to omega-3 phenolic antioxidants provide new approach not only to stabilize omega-3 oils, but some also provide new omega-3 oil based antioxidants as nutraceutical products.

The conversion rate and position specificity of structural modifications and incorporation of antioxidants as well as safety of newly prepared compounds for human consumption require future attention.

Emulsion and encapsulation technologies, especially those involved in micro/nano-technologies should also be promoted to protect omega-3 oils due to the convenience of release control, improved stability and bioavailability, but high processing efficiency and low cost are required for large scale production.

The five post-pandemic consumer trends that are impacting the bakery space

Website Link (Article by Gill Hyslop)

COVID-10 has changed the way the world works and in particular, brought forth a seismic change in consumer habits and preferences. This, says Puratos, has implications for all players in the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors.

Drawing on insights from the company’s Taste Tomorrow platform – which monitors advanced digital technologies and semantic artificial intelligence techniques, online surveys in 44 countries and conversations with foodies across the globe – the ingredients specialist has revealed the key trends that will help stakeholders navigate the ‘new’ consumer landscape.

“Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has had significant consequences on our industry, but it’s not the only factor that’s shaping conversations and behaviours,”​ said Nanno Palte, group marketing intelligence manager at Puratos.

“Coronavirus becoming a thing of the past, as it will do, doesn’t mean the trends we’re sharing this week will also be consigned quickly to history.”

The trends that are impacting the way the bakery sector operates:

Hyper-personal tailoring

Consumers’ pursuit towards healthier eating will continue into the foreseeable future.

According to Puratos, ‘power ingredients’ – those that not only impact health, but enhance taste, too – are on the rise, as is familiarity with dietary fibre and its impact on digestion. Today, nearly four in five consumers understand the all-encompassing role gut health has on their immunity, with 75% agreeing it also has a positive effect on mental wellbeing. As many as 87% of consumers in Asia Pacific nod to fibre as the most sought after ingredient.

This understanding is pushing consumers to increasingly demand hyper-personalised offerings, with 63% saying they specifically look for products that are tailored to their individual lifestyle.Bread provides the perfect vehicle for this purpose, easily enhanced with added fibre, superfoods or nutrients without complicating the process or meaning consumers have to compromise on taste and texture. In fact, Puratos’ Taste Tomorrow found that nearly thirds of respondents appreciate a bread adapted to their personal nutritional needs.

A rising number of consumers are also recognising cocoa’s role in reducing anxiety, along with its wealth of nutrients. With a greater focus on mental wellbeing, this provides a “clear opportunity to write a new chapter in the role of bread, patisserie and chocolate in society,”​ said Sophie Blum, Puratos’ chief marketing office.

The plant-based consumer

Today, consumers are more mindful of what they consume and how it affects their own health and that of the planet, with the majority wanting to know where their food comes from and how it is made.

Changing priorities, thanks to the pandemic, alongside a wider access to information and thus educated choices, are driving these habits and no baker can afford to not take notice.

The world’s biggest food trend, according to the Ipsos data, is the plant-based movement, with more than 50% of consumers now adopting a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian lifestyle.

For the first time, environmental and health concerns are equally weighted in consumers’ eyes, with 56% of respondents agreeing plant-based food is healthier than animal-based – and increase of 47% since 2018. Six in 10 also agree it has a positive impact on the environment – a rise of one third since 2018.

Again, the bakery space is well position to capitalise on these trends.

Appealing to the senses

Taste remains the top priority for today’s consumers, but appearance is rapidly gaining in the stakes, initially spurred on by the pandemic, but expected to last. Lockdown and social distancing prompted the virtual experience and there are very few consumers around the globe – particularly younger generations – who haven’t upped their face time on social media. Now, almost 60% of consumers say they ‘eat with their eyes’ – a great motivator when it comes to a purchase.

The pandemic also triggered a need for comfort and nostalgia, with three in four consumers opting for tastes from their childhood or the classics. However, with at home baking trending to such an extent that supermarket shelves were often left deprived of key baking ingredients, consumers were forced to experiment with different ingredients and try new foods. This has peaked their interest and 60% say they will continue to explore flavours from other parts of the world, which “presents another exciting opportunity for agile and creative bakers,” ​said Nanno.

Ultimate convenience

What began as an evolution, has become a revolution when it comes to convenience. After years of steady – but pedantic – growth, online shopping has exploded and everyone is clicking away. In fact, Taste Tomorrow reports weekly online grocery shopping has doubled in just three years, and 17% of consumers now order take-out meals online at least once a week.

Initially forced to ‘step-ball-change’ during lockdown and adapt their once F2F (face to face) business model to an online, at-home delivery system, players of all sizes in the bakery space are having to maintain their digital presence to be successful. Consumers also expect better communication both instore and online to stay well informed and be confident in their purchasing decisions.

Next level ‘phygital’ experience

That said, the physical act of pushing a trolley around a brick-and-motar structure still remains a priority for the majority of consumers, and 77% abhor the thought of shopping morphing entirely into a virtual experience.

As such, Taste Tomorrow experts have identified the need for a ‘phygital’ experience, which combines the advantages of both on- and offline channels.

The world is certainly ready for the next level in consumer convenience and has the necessary tech to seamlessly introduce it – artificial  intelligence and smart technology, for example, are geared for more personalised recommendations, helping consumers to make better food choices in-store and online.

Japanese knotweed may lower cancer risk of processed meat, find researchers

Website Link (Article by Flora Southey)

Replacing carcinogenic compound nitrite in processed meat with an extract taken from Japanese knotweed could reduce cancer risk, according to an EU co-funded research project.

Whether eating red meat, and in particular processed meat, is associated with cancer risk is a hotly debated topic.

Some argue that meat and meat products provide essential nutrients to the human diet, and as a result, may contribute to reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.

While others, including the World Cancer Research Fund, argue that significant evidence exists linking processed meat consumption with cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogenic to humans.

It has been suggested that N-nitroso compounds (NOCs) are partly responsible for the link between red meat consumption and cancer risk – notably colorectal cancer (CRC).

As food additive sodium nitrite (E250) is commonly used in processed meat products, a team of researchers is examining the potential for botanical extract replacements to reduce sodium nitrate consumption.

Replacing E250 with botanical alternatives

“The ongoing worries about highly processed red meat have often focused on the role of nitrite, and its links with cancer. The PHYTOME project tackled the issue by creating processed red meat products that replace additives with plant-based alternatives,” ​said Gunter Kuhnle, study co-author and Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Reading.

One such botanical alternative being tested under the EU co-funded PHYTOME project comes from Japanese knotweed.

The perennial weed is native to Japan, China and Korea. Although feared by homeowners for its ability to invade gardens and buildings, Japanese knotweed contains a chemical that has the potential to replace nitrite preservative in cured meats, such as bacon and sausages. In processed meat, nitrite preservative is used to control the growth of pathogenic bacteria, to prevent rancidity, and to create the characteristic pink colour of cured meats.

In the study, the researchers evaluated the effect of consumption of processed red meat containing reduced levels of nitrate that had been enriched with phytochemicals, such as Japanese knotweed extract.

Split into two groups, 63 study participants in the Netherlands consumed processed meats containing standard nitrate levels or reduced nitrite levels. The processed meats consumed in both groups contained selections of natural antioxidants and bioactive molecules delivered by plant extracts.

The amount of apparent total N-nitroso compound (ATNC) was then tested participants’ faecal water.

Promising results

Findings revealed a ‘significant’ reduction in faecal ATNC levels – a surrogate marker of endogenously formed NOCs – as compared to the consumption of conventional processed red meat products.

“Our latest findings show that using natural additives in processed red meat reduces the creation of compounds in the body that are linked to cancer,”​ explained Kuhnle.

And surprisingly, the researcher continued, the natural additives seemed to have some protective effects even when the red meat contained nitrite.

“This suggests that natural additives could be used to reduce some of the potentially harmful effects of nitrite, even in foods where it is not possible to take our nitrite preservatives altogether.”

Source:​ Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
‘Replacement of nitrite in meat products by natural bioactive compounds results in reduced exposure to N-nitroso compounds: The Phytome Project”
(van Breda et al. 2021)

Can some sugars actually be healthy? FDA asks, industry responds

Website Link (Article by Ingredientsnetwork)

In 2019, the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) allowed allulose to be exempt from the added and total sugar labelling requirement thanks to the way it is metabolised in the body. Could other non-traditional sugars be eligible for such an exemption?

The 2019 announcement marked the first time the FDA allowed a sugar to be exempt from the US on-pack sugar labelling requirement and was a reflection of its “flexible and science-based approach to food product labelling”, it said.

The latest data suggests that allulose is different from other sugars in that it is not metabolized by the human body in the same way as table sugar. It has fewer calories, produces only negligible increases in blood glucose or insulin levels, and does not promote dental decay,” said Mayne, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, adding that allulose would still count towards the caloric value of the food on the label and must still be declared as an ingredient.

The FDA then launched a request for comments in October last year, inviting food industry stakeholders to share feedback on whether other non-traditional sugars, such as tagatose, allose and isomaltulose, should be treated differently for labelling purposes.

We are interested in learning more about the kinds of sugars that are metabolized differently than traditional sugars and that are used in foods, any distinct physiological effects in the body caused by those sugars, and how we should treat those sugars for purposes of food labelling,” it said.

We take a look at some of the comments and suggestions received by the food safety authority.

Rare sugars are not metabolised like sucrose

Virginia-headquartered Bonumose has filed a citizen’s petition requesting the FDA to exempt tagatose from a sugar declaration on the grounds it is a carbohydrate that meets the definition of a dietary fibre, and it said on-pack nutrition information should reflect this.

We suggest that FDA consider whether the carbohydrate would more appropriately labelled as dietary fibre,” it said.

Sweetener supplier Tate & Lyle argued that it would be misleading to include rare sugars, such as allulose, tagatose and isomaltulose in the added sugar declaration, as consumers would assume these sugars have the same impact as traditional sugars such as sucrose, namely increasing blood glucose and insulin levels and contributing to dental caries.

The Food Lawyers: ‘Out of place in the sugar declaration’

Los Angeles-based The Food Lawyers also said rare sugars, such as allulose, tagatose and allose, were “out of place” in the total sugar and added sugar declarations because they are metabolised so differently from sugar.

It urged the FDA to establish a new category of sugars called ‘rare sugars’ and suggested criteria for inclusion in this category: sugars that impart at least 50% of the sweetness of sucrose; that provide 2.0 kcal per g or less; that result in a pH of 6.0 or more of dental plaque after consumption; and that elicit a zero or low glycaemic and insulinemic response.

We feel the above approach creates a ‘win-win’ atmosphere wherein industry will be motivated to substitute rare sugars for traditional and familiar sugars, and the public will receive both the immediate benefit of an increased number of food product choices utilizing Rare Sugars as well as the longer-term health benefits offered by Rare Sugars because they are metabolized differently than traditional sugars.”

However, The Food Lawyers noted that, although isomaltulose is metabolized differently in the body and the mouth compared to traditional sugars, it is completely hydrolyzed within the small intestine and provides a full 4 kcal per gram.

[This renders] it less useful from a public health perspective regarding obesity than other members of its class,” it added.

Unilever: No need for a new nutrient category

General Mills was in favour of creating a separate voluntary declaration for a rare carbohydrate, in addition to the mandatory ingredient list declaration. It said this would allow for greater transparency to consumers and help educate consumers on the physiological benefits of this class of ingredients.

Unilever, however, did not support creating a new category for the sweeteners.

There is no need to further complicate the Nutrition Facts label by creating a new nutrient category for sugars metabolized differently than traditional sugars,” it told the FDA. “Sugars such as allulose and tagatose are considered ketohexoses and as such, we see no need to create a new ‘saccharide’ line on the Nutrition Facts label to accommodate these sugars – they fit within ‘Total Carbohydrates’ on the Nutrition Facts label.”

Hershey & Bonumose identify other rare sugars of interest

The Hershey Company suggested some additional non-traditional sugars that may have the same effects as allulose and thus be of interest to food manufacturers. These include the monosaccharides sorbose, ribose, allose, and L-arabinose, and the disaccharides trehalose and kojibiose, it said.

Although the quality and quantity of evidence with respect to some of these ingredients is limited, we urge the Agency to develop guidance on non-traditional sugars as a category that is broad enough to allow for and, indeed, incentivize continued work in identifying and developing these ingredients for commercial use,” wrote Hershey.

Bonumose noted that its technology could ALSO be used to produce other rare sugars, such as D-allose, D-altrose, D-gulose, D-idose and D-talose that are not yet commercially available.

How Indoor Farming Reduces Food Waste

Website Link (Article by Ashlen Wilder)

When The Spoon last wrote about Crop One in 2018, the company had just announced that they were building the largest indoor hydroponic farm in the world. The farm, based in Dubai, is set to be 300,000 square feet, three stories high, and capable of producing up to 6,000 pounds of food a day.

This week, I spoke with Deane Falcone, the CSO of Crop One, to catch up on how things are going. He said Dubai is set to open sometime early next year in 2022. Crop One has been steadily growing its team during the past few years and brought on a new CEO, Craig Ratajczyk.

In our conversation, Falcone explained to me how Crop One’s protocol and technology produce extremely clean plants that result in very little waste. Here is a transcript of part of our conversation:

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Ashlen: Can you discuss how indoor crop production reduces food waste?

Deane: Sure. You know, there are numerous metrics for just indoor production, but I’ll focus on things that are I think, unique to us at Crop One. So the first thing is that it’s going back to that plant first concept. What we’re really trying to do at the end of the day is grow a very, very high-quality plant. When you grow high-quality plants, I mean all the leaves that I get on the plants are on a, you know, spinach or kale or lettuce, you want all those leaves to be high quality. And so that’s what we really aim for. So that’s the beginning of the process. 

In other words, there’s not a leaf or there are far, far fewer leaves that might be discarded, because they’re not at the right development stage. They might have some yellowing or something like that. And so all the systems contribute to that high quality. So at the very beginning that of the process, what you’re wasting, so to speak, is reduced. So that’s an important concept to keep in mind. 

The other really important concept is the cleanliness factor. So we talk about this a lot, you know, we grow in sealed rooms, it’s filtered air, grown on purified water, we have pretty elaborate water purification systems. And so what that gives us is a plant that’s very, very clean. And you may or may not know from previous discussions with us, but no one touches the plants. If they are touched by hand when they’re transplanted or they’re harvested, it’s people being wound up wearing gloves, so only a gloved hand touches the plant. Not even water touches the surface of the plant that you eat. So I’m going into that because that results in again, a clean environment, filtered air, etc, etc. 

That gives us what we refer to as a very low microbial load on the surface of plant that has very little fungi and bacteria on the surface and plants, the surface of leaves. But we’ve had this tested, we set up the labs and stuff like that. And so the reason why that’s important is that these are not disease-causing pathogenic microbes but it turns out that when you as soon as you harvest the plant, as soon as you harvest that leaf, the fungi and bacteria, which again is a natural part of the environment, that’s what causes the breakdown of food, so we start seeing food decay is because of these.

The presence of fungal spores and whatnot that that break down the product. And so that’s a really big determinant as to the shelf life. So our shelf life is it’s at least three weeks the refrigerator So it is largely because of that. Now of course, it’s the freshness aspect that is, apart from getting close to a population center so that the delivery to the final consumer is very short. But it’s very fresh, but really the thing that gives us that long shelf life is the cleanliness of the product. Again, it just stays in very good shape over a long period of time.

The packing occurs in a cold room onsight so the delivery time to the cold room as you know, is a few minutes away right in the same building, that it’s packed. It’s been kept in refrigerated temperatures the whole time. 

So there’s really no waste except for the occasional you know, there might be a piece of stem or something that we don’t want in the product and so that simply won’t be passed. For all of those reasons the food waste is really, really low. Again it starts on “the field”, that is in the growth rooms. The plants are very high quality so there’s little waste there. A little sorting waste, and then it stays low throughout the entire process.

This is a really important issue as I’m sure you know, because the statistic I’ve quoted for years now is ⅓ or about 33% of all food produced is wasted, particularly agricultural crops. Just a few days ago in fact, I read another article that it can go as high as 40%. So 33 to 40% of food produced is wasted which is astonishingly high. 

Ashlen: Thank you for breaking all of that down. You might have mentioned this already, but I’m guessing seeing everything is pesticide-free as well?

Deane: Absolutely. And just so you know, our new CEO is always asking why do we only say pesticide-free? What about herbicides? What about the fungicides? He’s an ag person by the way. He comes from the ag approach. He has a very good perspective on what really has gone on for outdoor agriculture. So nothing touches those leaves and nothing is in the water either as far as chemicals, only mineral nutrients to the plants.

Ashlen: Have you ever had a problem in the past with pests entering the facilities or is that pretty easy to manage on your end?

Deane: Yes. So we’ve been in operation for over six years now, What I mean by the operation is the whole process of growing the plants harvesting, packing, and selling. The honest truth is you have to have good protocols so everything’s kind of double door. And we’re actually in a warehouse. So insects can get into the warehouse. If you aren’t careful with the double door system, that is. Don’t open the inner door when the outer doors are open, it’s really as simple as that. If you don’t adhere to that pretty soon you can get in second position. And exactly as you say, you know, without the use of pesticide that’s a lot of nice material for the insects to take. So they’ll take it over pretty rapidly but I have to say in the last, maybe pushing four years, but certainly the last three and a half years, we have not had a single insect infestation. It’s really, you know, well-trained people. People put their gloves on, we clean the shoes. The insects by the way are oftentimes almost microscopic, they’re very, small and so they can adhere to your clothes. And they just like to eat plants. It’s just very common and so we really have to keep an eye on that. But again the last three to four years, we haven’t had any insect outbreaks. So that’s literally the main thing keeping those doors shut.

Ashlen: Can you speak about the nutrition component of food that’s been grown outdoors versus something that would be grown indoors? 

Deane: So this is a huge interest to us. We’ve evaluated, everything we grow. The nutrition is at least as good, as what we’re trying to see is where we can make it better. And so, there might be ways of just, for example, manipulating what’s the mineral nutrient to the water. So for example, plants need a fair amount of calcium. How much calcium is actually taken up in a queue. related to these, and so we’re really starting to look at that. To see if we can enhance it because the biggest kind of change in perspective indoor growth is that everything is controlled automatically. It’s everything that’s dissolved in the water. 

So for example iron, in traditional agriculture, all those components are in the fertilizer or in the soil. In our case, we add them, right so they’re adding very precise levels. And of course, you could add to much, which you don’t want to have, you could have negative plant growth if you go too high with certain levels of other trace minerals. Such as copper; plants require a little bit of copper. Of course, they require a little bit of iron. You can’t go too high in those, and so on. But others like potassium and calcium, for certain species, we can actually increase their abundance of leaves by simply increasing their level in the water. So there’s there’s a lot of opportunities there we’re just at the beginning of increased nutritional content.

So if you think about outdoor grows, it turns out that the metabolites, the mineral nutrients, the vitamins that plants produce, and plants are great at producing an abundance of them. You know, they’re loaded. Almost all breeding plants are loaded with vitamin C, for example. The fact of the matter is those levels. Those levels oscillate very widely outdoors because it’s influenced by the environment. If you have a couple of days of heavy rain or a period of drought, warm days, all that kind of variability, that results in variability of this kind of nutritional aspects of vitamins and minerals and nutrients.

We can actually start to think about saying, oh we have Spinach or whatever leafy green that has x amount of a vitamin or X amount of iron, calcium, or potassium, that sort of thing. So that’s a pretty exciting thing, isn’t it? It’s something that you really can’t say with outdoor growth because again, the environments always changing. At least metabolites change pretty widely in those conditions.

Ashlen: Do you see indoor hydroponic farming as part of the future of food?

Deane: Absolutely. It’s absolutely part of the future. Yes. That I can expand on that if you wish. The first major thing that the industry has to do including us is scaling. And that’s exactly what our farms will show. It is a pretty large operation and produces quite a significant output of the crop. So that actually hasn’t been done to appreciable levels yet and in truth, completely controlled indoor farms, there’s plenty of greenhouses out there that are getting quite massive in producing a lot but they just don’t have that level of precise control nor do they have the density that indoor farming can provide. 

Stacked shelves, vertically stacked shelves. They give you a very high output and we’re not the only company doing that of course. Once that becomes established, then it’s just a matter of time for these things to propagate. There’s a lot of companies jumping into the industry because they see the value, right? It’s pretty obvious now.

Our product is particularly clean, we work really hard to use highly purified water to grow the plants and all that sort of thing. And we really see the advantages, as I mentioned before on shelf life, things like that. So it’s really only the beginning. The honest truth is we didn’t know that the shelf life would be so extended just by making a clean product. So as these kinds of realizations come forth, you can really see the industry expanding because it’s going to be a very viable way of providing food in a reliable and continuous way.

Ashlen: Those are all the questions I have for now. Unless there’s anything else you want to share.

Deane: The only other thing to bring up I guess is very important. Everyone knows about the water use efficiency that indoor ag provides. If you look at the West Coast of the US, we’re seeing the beginnings of real severe shortages of water. As I’m sure you know, most freshwater is actually used for irrigation with agricultural crops. So we’re at the earliest stages in this industry and then in this way of growing food, but it’s important because unfortunately, climate change is real and climate change is here. It’s good that we have these alternative means to at least get the maximum water use efficiency that’s possible, and that’s pretty much going to be true for most indoor farms. Mostly, in our case, all the water that you use in the system goes through the plant. It’s transpired through the plant so very little is wasted in that sense.

Ashlen: Thank you for bringing that up, that’s really important. Great. Thank you for taking the time to speak.