With Cajun flavor enjoying a revival in the retail sector, New Orleans was a timely, albeit sizzling, venue for the 2005 Institute of Food Technologists’ IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo in July.
The annual expo brings out a variety of food industry suppliers, including equipment manufacturers, software houses and service providers. But it remains predominantly an ingredient showcase.
Wellness ingredients appeared to be the focus this year, but bold flavors also sizzled. Hispanic, Latin American and Asian influences appeared in unique and innovative ways. Chipotle, ginger, grilled flavors and dark chocolate jazzed up many of the offerings.
In order to showcase their ingredients, most of the exhibitors cook foods on site, and some also create packaged food products, many of which are good enough for grocery shelves, in my opinion. Every year, I’m impressed by the effort many ingredient vendors go to in creating prototype products just to show off their ingredients. Following are my picks for the tastiest and most innovative products at the show. Our apologies to those we couldn’t include because of space.Fitness frenzy
Zero trans fat labeling is the industry’s greatest current challenge. Mild cheddar-flavored Zero Trans Fat Cheddar Snack Crackers, served by Edlong Dairy Flavors (www.edlong.com
), Elk Grove Village, Ill., prove that zero trans fat savory delights are possible. And although it’s only a local delight, Spicy Beer-Battered Alligator with Remoulade Sauce was a divine homage to New Orleans cuisine. Yes, alligator does taste like chicken.
|Wild Flavors' Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette blended sweet cocoa with balsamic vinegar for a surprisingly yummy zing.
Wild Flavors (www.wildflavors.com
), Erlanger, Ky., showcased a panoply of healthy ingredient prototypes, including Tropical Heart-Health Beverage (pineapple, orange, passion fruit, peach and acerola) brimming with “cardio-licious” antioxidants, phytosterol esters, Co-Q10, apple polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. With Americans spending $12 billion on cosmeceutical products last year, Wild has lots of potential in Mango Ginger Cosmeceutical Spritzer. The drink contained vitamins A, C and E, which protects against UV radiation, reduces premature aging and neutralizes free radicals. It also had ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, ginger oil, rosemary and aloe vera. Or, to calm the nerves, try chill with Relaxing Creamy Cucumber Soup with herbal ingredients. My favorite prototype, however, was Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette, a combination of unexpected flavors – sweet cocoa blended with balsamic vinegar – that gives salad greens a spectacular flavor boost.
Snack foods continue to gain share for on-the-go Americans. We loved Rosemont, Ill.-based Dairy Management Inc.’s bite-sized Protein Enriched Savory Cheese Snack. This whey protein concentrate and WPCrisp (textured whey protein isolate) -containing Cheddar-flavored snack is crunchy and buttery tasting. Although the media recently declared low-carb dead, consumers continue to modify their carbs, and whey can replace some of the carbs in food formulations. We also enjoyed a refreshing Mango-Flavored Isotonic Protein Beverage with 25 percent less sugar than a typical carbonated soft drink. Many isotonic drinks offer electrolytes for muscle recovery, but very few deliver protein. Incidentally, if you need some new product inspiration, DMI’s new website www.innovatewithdairy.com
contains “Innovation Station,” which provides information, resources and tools for new product development.
), Schenectady, N.Y., incorporated its custom nutrient premixes in multicolored and multi-flavored (raspberry, lemon, grape and cherry) Fortified Freeze Pops. This cool application, containing vitamins A, E and C, is a great idea for processors and adds an antioxidant profile to an otherwise nutrient-empty kid food. Parents would enjoy Fortitech’s prototype Fortified Chocolate Pudding containing vitamins A, B, and D.
It took Archer Daniels Midland (www.admworld.com
) chefs Brian Yager and Eric White a year and a half to develop Nola Gumbo, a sensational tasting main course made with NutriSoy Next soy meat analog, NovaXan xanthan gum, Sweet ‘N Neat molasses powder and Enova brand oil. Even consumers who normally don’t buy soy products would salivate over this creation from the Decatur, Ill., company.
Land O'Lakes Dairy Proteins (www.landolakesfid.com
), St. Paul, Minn., exhibited Textured Whey Protein Crispies Brownies. “The crispies featured in the brownie contain 50 percent protein,” says Mike Kothbauer, sales and marketing manager, dairy proteins. “They’re designed for incorporation into foods to increase the protein content.” The crispies can be used as an ingredient in baking mixes, sports nutrition bars, candy bars, granola and trail mixes, or salad toppings.
Cone-coxions were bite-sized crispy almond waffle cones made with almond meal and skins, coated with dark chocolate, and then sprinkled with diced almonds. Concocted by a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they won the 2005 Almond Innovations Contest, sponsored by the Modesto-based Almond Board of California (www.almondboard.com
). Almonds are a nutrient powerhouse, an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium plus protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and monounsaturated fat – all without cholesterol.
Watson Inc., West Haven, Conn., served up a tasty Fruit Nut Granola Bar – made of a premix formulated to provide one fruit exchange, one protein exchange, one wholegrain exchange and one milk exchange, as per the American Diabetes Assn. Food Exchange system. Add to that a comprehensive Watson Premix of vitamins and minerals to add a strong nutritional profile, and you have healthy snack.
Grilled flavors and Asian food were combined in Steamed Wontons Stuffed with Thai Spiced Roasted Pork by Red Arrow Products Co. (www.redarrowusa.com
), Manitowoc, Wis. Incorporating the company’s new Low Trans Fatty Acid Grillin’ Flavors (1.5 percent trans fat as compared to more than 25 percent trans fat in traditional grilled flavors) and made with non-hydrogenated oils, this was a flavorful authentic Asian prototype ready for foodservice or the frozen aisle.
Lipid Nutrition (www.lipidnutrition.com
), a division of Loders Croklaan, Channahon, Ill., provided Drinkable Yogurt with Clarinol CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and Marinol Sugar Cookies. “It is really quite easy to incorporate Clarinol CLA, especially in the green tea-lemon drinkable yogurt application,” explains Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager–North America. “The triglyceride form of Clarinol CLA (Clarinol G-80 oil or Clarinol Powder) has a clean taste; as such, it does not affect the flavor profile of the end-product.” I was fascinated with the Marinol Cookie – omega-3s with good taste.
|Kerry’s Chicken Tikka Pizza pleased palates with a natural — if slightly Americanized — East Indian BBQ flavor profile.
Choco-potle Chicken Thigh Strips from Kerry Savory Ingredients, part of Kerry Ingredients (www.kerrygroup.com
), Beloit, Wis., incorporate new Battinade marinate/batter technology, which eliminates the marinating step in a frying process, and is also an excellent flavor carrier. This tasty combination of dark chocolate (Hershey’s cocoa nibs, according to chef Danny Bruns) and dark chicken meat, spiced up with a bit of chipotle pepper in the molé tradition of southern Mexico, provides great layering of Mexican flavors. It’s a time-saving, bottom-line solution for poultry product manufacturers. For an innovative take on pizza, Kerry’s Chicken Tikka Pizza with a natural-seasoned East Indian BBQ flavor profile, adapted for the American palate, really hit the spot.
I must confess that even with the searing temperatures in New Orleans, I snuck back several times for a bowl of delicious Red Curry Soup with Coconut Foam, developed by chef Daniel Coffin at National Starch Food Innovation (www.nstarch.com
), Bridgewater, N.J. Its exceptional texture and clean label are possible because of National’s Performance flour. National Starch highlighted its Wholesome/Clean Label, Health/Wellness, Texture and Targeted Delivery Innovation springboards with the soup and high-fiber multigrain artisanal bread made with Hi-maize, the 5-in-1 fiber, a tasty and healthy accompaniment to the soup.
Sargento Foods Inc. (www.sargentofoodingredients.com
), Plymouth, Wis., introduced its new corporate chef Guy Beardsmore. Most recently with Whitbread PLC Restaurants, the UK’s leading hospitality company, Beardsmore fed us scrumptious Panini sandwiches containing red pepper, aioli and Sargento’s Bistro Blends cheeses. He also shares an exclusive culinary tip. Add Sargento’s new Bistro Blends to tomato soup for a souper supper. Incidentally, Sargento also offers convenient new Crumbled Blue Cheese portion-control packets perfect for bagged salads and foodservice providers.
Kraft Food Ingredients (www.kraftfoodingredients.com
), Memphis, Tenn., introduced its line of Kosher-certified Pan Drippings Flavors: beef and chicken. Chicken Pan Drippings were incorporated in a nifty taste combination: Holiday-Style Turkey Cranberry Rangoon appetizers. The Kraft team spent six to eight weeks brainstorming to come up with prototypes for IFT. Among them was Carmelized Apple Cream Tart with Grape-Nuts Streusel, a neat combination of cream cheese, Grape Nuts Cereal and Nilla Wafer Crumbs (all Kraft brands).Fiber fortification
In an effort to maintain their health, Empty Nest Baby Boomers (ages 50-59) are increasingly in the market for high-fiber foods and calcium, according to proprietary research compiled by Minneapolis-based Cargill (www.cargillhft.com
) and the Natural Marketing Institute. Cargill’s Café served high-soluble fiber prototypes containing Oliggo-Fiber inulin, including instant chocolate pudding and iDeserve water for joint and bone health. Aside from increasing soluble dietary fiber and having prebiotic benefits, Oliggo-Fiber inulin also is a fat mimetic and it can replace carbs, modulate flavor, extend shelf-life and enhance calcium absorption. Cargill didn’t forget tweens (ages 8-12). Based on insights from a national study with tweens conducted by Just Kid Inc., it developed Lagoon Lime-ation Reduced Calorie Fruit Drink, with Special FX natural nutritive sweetener, a beverage sure to appeal to tweens and teens watching calories and Chocolate Soy Milk with Oliggo-fiber inulin, for developers of healthier products for school cafeterias.
Colloides Naturels Inc. (www.cniworld.com
), Bridgewater, N.J., showcased Healthy Temptations, a soft cookie that provides 3 g of dietary fiber made from Fibregum, a prebiotic fiber that reduces the total glycemic Index of food products.Short takes
Philadelphia’s David Michael & Co. (www.dmflavors.com
) served up Philly Style Cheesesteak made from chicken – yes chicken-- but flavored with its beef, steak and cheese flavors, a twist on Philadelphia’s favorite sandwich. One could cool down with one of several exotic tropical prototype drinks including “Hot” Mamey Orange (mamey is related to the mangosteen) and Lulo Lime (Lulo’s taste has been compared to pineapple-lemon). ConAgra Foods Inc. (www.conagrafoods.com
) Omaha, Neb., spent at least eight years and several million dollars developing its Ultragrain White Whole Wheat, and it’s now in a number of retail products hitting the shelves
Local hero McIlhenny Co. (www.tabasco.com
), Avery Island, La., kicked up chocolate ice cream with bits of chocolate-coated peanuts, chocolate-coated marshmallows, chocolate-covered raisins … and a dash of Tabasco Habanero Sauce. D.D. Williamson LLC (www.caramel.com
), Louisville, Ky., purchased the natural color division of Artemis International Inc., and celebrated by serving Berry Bites, made with elderberry natural color. Comax Flavors (www.comaxflavors.com
), Melville, N.Y., cooled attendees with a refreshing, semi-frozen Chocolate Fudge Caramel beverage delight. Celebrity chef Wylie Du Fresne of famed restaurant WD-50 uses gellan gum, provided by Atlanta-based C.P. Kelco (www.cpkelco.com
), in his fried mayonnaise and eggless lemon curd.