Some of the most interesting and innovative are listed below. Our apologies to those we couldn't include because of space.
Trans fat-free remains a key issue; and premium breads increasingly are the choice of baby boomers looking for upscale taste, texture and healthy ingredients, such as enriched wheat flour. Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. (www.cargill.com) baked up trans fat-free Dessert Breads in mango peach and peach apricot. They tasted indulgent and are good to go for busy consumers. Cargill also showcased a trans fat-free doughnut using TransEnd shortening that would be a great option in foodservice.
If you love biscotti, but worry it will break your front teeth, St. Louis-based ICL Performance Products (www.icl-perfproductslp.com) developed softer-texture biscotti with tasty frosting. The key ingredient was Levona leavening agent for controlled release, a source of calcium and zero sodium. With a wonderful flavor, a texture between a crispy cookie and crunchy biscotti, we were addicted.
Archer Daniels Midland (www.admworld,com), Decatur, Ill., developed a Chocolate Microwaveable Muffin Mix, which stays soft and tender because of the even distribution of heat while being microwaved (for 30 seconds). Made with ADM's Kansas Diamond white whole-wheat flour and SmartBind wheat gluten, it's 25 percent lower in fat and allows for a natural label. The muffins are a cinch for school program lunches because no eggs are needed and there is no aftertaste of whole grain (surely appreciated by the 44 million kids aged 7-12).
Memphis, Tenn.-based Kraft Food Ingredients' (www.kraftfoodingredients.com) Fire Roasted Flavor imparted an authentic taste of wood-fired oven cooking in several prototypes. It was impossible to choose which we liked best: Fire Roasted Chicken Cannelloni with Alfredo Cream Sauce or Pan Seared CharRoast Sirloin with Parmesan Crisps. Then again, Kraft's Jalapeno Cheese Truffle dusted with Smoky Paprika was hard to resist.
Color was key at D.D. Williamson (www.ddwilliamson.com), Louisville, Ky., which served up yummy bite-sized cheesecakes. The natural color piping on the frosting included annatto extract (yellow), elderberry (red) and red cabbage (blue). Williamson's natural palette includes turmeric, paprika, red beet and anthocyanins, along with a certified organic caramel color.
Solae (www.solae.com), St. Louis, would like customers to wake up to the possibilities of its Blueberry Crisp Breakfast Bar containing 12g of protein for sustained energy. In focus groups, Solae found breakfast eaters are convinced of the nutrition and health benefits of eating breakfast, but time constraints are the key barrier. Untapped market opportunities also exist for mid-morning snacks, since some consumers snack several times a day as part of their overall routine and others have a "hunger break" between breakfast and lunch.
Kerry's Mastertaste division (www.mastertaste.com), Teterboro, N.J., offered Mixed Berry Yogurt and Juice beverage. Lightly carbonated for a fizzy feel on the tongue, it was made with real fruit juice and yogurt and enhanced with antioxidants to help reduce cholesterol while aiding digestion and boosting the immune system.
Alsip, Ill.-based Griffith Laboratories (www.griffithlaboratories.com) featured the flavors of Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece and Lebanon, serving up Kefta "Sliders," or Moroccan mini-burgers. Meanwhile, Innova (www.innovaflavors.com), Oak Brook, Ill., a Griffith Labs company, delighted attendees with Chicken Shawarma (which literally means "turning" on a rotisserie), a Middle-Eastern delight with a Yogurt Shawarma Sauce.
McIlhenny Co. (www.tabascoingredients.com), Avery Island, La., brought comfort to a new level with Tabasco Bread Pudding Ice Cream, custard-flavored ice cream with a Habanero kick, bread pudding pieces and a touch of cinnamon served with a whiskey sweet sauce.
Handheld snacks for adults don't always please, but Smoked Chicken and Brie Strudel, developed by Rosemont, Ill.-based Dairy Management Inc. (www.innovatewithdairy.com) is an upscale, sophisticated and delicious option for discerning palates. It can be microwaved or put in a toaster oven for a treat you might call a fancy, adult "hot pockets."
Smart Food Solutions from Purac America Inc. (www.purac.com), Lincolnshire, Ill., included Tuscan Meatballs, tasty chicken and turkey meatballs incorporating Purasol Powder S, sodium lactate powder, blended in the seasoning for a superb taste, extended shelf life, enhanced flavor and (most important) food safety.
Philadelphia-based David Michael (www.dmflavors.com) served up Pork Meatballs in Bourbon Bar-B-Que Sauce, featuring soy sauce, Bourbon, brown sugar and chipotle flavors paired with its Premier Process Vanilla Extract. To cool the palate, we washed it down with Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie Dessert Beverage, not quite ice cream but more than a milkshake.
Cran-Almond Treasures, developed by students at Pennsylvania State University, captured the top prize in the 2007 Almond Innovations Contest (sponsored by the Almond Board of California) for members of the Food Technologists Student Assn. With health-conscious adults in mind, Treasures are flavorful, almond flour-based cookies studded with almonds and dried cranberries and dipped halfway in dark chocolate. Each cookie contains 105 calories, with no trans fat or cholesterol.