Near-Record Crowd at 2007 IFT Expo

A near-record crowd sampled ingredients healthy and exotic.

By Diane Toops and Dave Fusaro

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With 23,296 attendees, this year's IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo was the second largest IFT show in its 67 years, surpassed only by the 1999 show (also held in Chicago) by a mere 1,000 registrants. There were 986 exhibiting companies, who outdid themselves providing delicious solutions for attendees.

Best-selling author Jason Jennings kicked off the meeting this year with an energetic keynote address on the four secrets of leadership. In a nutshell, the world's best-performing leaders:

  1. Have a cause that has nothing to do with money;
  2. Have mastered the art of letting go, which makes them better able to deal with change;
  3. Get everyone in their organization to think and act like an owner;
  4. Are stewards of workers, customers, capital and resources.

Health and wellness was the theme of the show, in fact some 40 technical sessions addressed that issue. Hot ingredients this year included omega-3 oils, fiber, vitamins, trans fat-free oils, salt substitutes and probiotics. Exotic fruits acai, goji and pomegranate were in abundance, along with a new player, lucuma, showcased by Van Drunen Farms (www.vandrunenfarms.com), Momence, Ill. Native to South America, lucuma has a pumpkin-like pulp and color with a maple-like flavor and is rich in beta carotene and niacin.

IFT is not all about ingredients. Tetra Pak displayed packaging solutions in its booth.
IFT is not all about ingredients. Tetra Pak displayed packaging solutions in its booth.

Also on the flavor front, if you never heard of buchu, baobab or bissap, those are new flavors to watch in the next few years, according to the Innova Database Taste the Trend report. Meanwhile, a scan of yogurt and dairy drinks launched between January 2005 and December 2006 found traditional flavors still dominate new product activity: fruit flavors (5,552) and dairy flavors (1,670).

Food safety was a hot topic in many technical sessions and products. To recognize the critical role suppliers play in ensuring food quality and safety, Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) sponsored a visiting grower delegation to the show. Growers from Illinois, Minnesota and North Dakota listened to a food industry overview and learned more about products developed by ADM using their food crops.

"Food safety is of greater concern today than perhaps ever before, and suppliers play a critical role in keeping our food safe," says Mark Metivier, director of sales at ADM Specialty Food Ingredients. "ADM knows our suppliers and values our relationship with them. Because of our strong, vertically integrated position, we're able to unite suppliers with food manufacturers to provide consumers with consistently safe and high-quality food ingredients."

Walking the floor

It wasn't football on display at the NFL booth. Instead, attendees were treated to a belly dancer by the innovation and new product development company National Food Laboratory. The entertainment highlighted Chef Teresa Landros' Casbah-By-the-Bay spice, containing turmeric, coriander (courtesy of McCormick) and sea salts. For bone health, the Moroccan Mobiliti-Tea was green tea with vitamin D, calcium, boron, organic agave and organic honey.

"Texture changes everything" is the apparent theme this year for National Starch Food Innovation. "We believe it's the most undervalued attribute of a food," said Anthony DeLio, vice president and general manager. Marshall Fong, National's director of marketing, cited market research that indicates the use of texture descriptors -- such as thick, creamy, smooth -- is on the rise, now being called out on 12 percent of products, up from 8 percent in 2003.

To address those concerns, National Starch announced a worldwide alliance with Avebe Group. The Dutch company's potato starches will fill a gap in the National Starch portfolio. Plus, National will begin building a Texture Center of Excellence in its Bridgewater, N.J., headquarters to devote more effort and research to the subject.

With beer on tap just before quitting time, United Soybean Board's booth was popular late in the day.
With beer on tap just before quitting time, United Soybean Board's booth was popular late in the day.

Kraft Food Ingredients unveiled several flavors at the show. Pasteurized Premium Cured Cheddar Blend is a high-performance cheese blend that yields an authentic, balanced, aged cheddar profile. It blends well with sauces, soups, side dishes and entrees. Fire Roasted Flavor imparts the taste of "old-world, wood-fired oven cooking." And an Organic Grill Flavor delivers an authentic-tasting charbroiled flavor -- in an organic form.

The cranberry already ranks high in antioxidant and antiadhesion benefits, says Ocean Spray Ingredient Technology Group. New research suggests cranberry components offer benefits in the prevention of dental and gum diseases. With demand for this sweetened, dried fruit increasing, the company now offers a lower-sugar/high-fiber cranberry and diced and double-diced pieces.

GTC Nutrition wants to assist processors in "building a bone-healthy brand." Its NutraFlora prebiotic fiber -- recently added to the National Organic Standards Board's list of organic ingredients -- is the subject of a "get hip to hone health" marketing campaign, targeting both returning school children and adults.

Edlong Dairy Flavors unveiled three new items. CremeLong is a heavy cream replacer meant to help processors offset rising dairy costs; it has less half the fat content of heavy cream. Ed-Vantage is a line of non-diacetyl dairy flavors; they give the mouthfeel, aroma and buttery flavor that are characteristic of diacetyl-containing dairy flavors but without added diacetyl, which is coming under increasing scrutiny. Natural Savory Salt Potentiator is what the name implies: a water- and oil-dispersible, Kosher-certified flavor that boosts the perception of saltiness in low- and no-sodium products.

InterHealth Nutrceuticals staged a press conference featuring Harry Preuss, a researcher at Georgetown University Medical Center and author of The Natural Fat-Loss Pharmacy, to promote its weight-management ingredients. ChromeMate is a niacin-bound form of chromium, and Super CitraMax is extracted from the South Asian fruit Garcinia cambogia.

Dow Chemical Co. announced that earlier in July it bought Wolff Walsrode of Germany to create Dow Wolff Cellulosics. Wolff's Walocell carboxy methocellulose rounds out a Dow gums portfolio that had methocellulose and some hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC).

TIC Gums served up yummy Fire-roasted Tomato Soup containing both its new Caragum 200 (a starch replacer) and an organic version of Nutriloid 7000 gum (increases soluble dietary fiber).

Danisco (www.danisco.com) wowed them with Banana Sorbet Mousse with a cocoa swirl, a creamy sorbet, containing Cremodan Mousse 30 Emulsifier and Stabilizer Systems with slow melting properties.

Watson Inc. brightened up the floor with Got Bling, edible silver and gold glitter made possible by mica-based pearlescent pigments. It can be applied to the surface of chocolate, pan-coated gum drops, gum, frostings and candy. Just think of the possibilities in baking and confectionery.

Between its oils and milling divisions, Bunge North America had plenty of sample jars lined up in its IFT display.
Between its oils and milling divisions, Bunge North America had plenty of sample jars lined up in its IFT display.

Fortitech Inc. showed off its very unique function application Weight Management Popcorn. The premix blend contains niacin, pantothenic acid, chromium, L-carnitine, CLA, green tea extract, calcium and potassium to help stave off hunger, add energy and improve cardio.

New technology made it possible for Oregon Freeze Dry Inc. provide Freeze-dried Ice Cream, bite size pieces that can be used in cereals or snack mixes since they do not require freezing. Flavors include vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.

Kerry Ingredients U.S. introduced its hot extrusion Real Fruit and Vegetable Crisps technology. Products feature 30 percent fruit and vegetable solids and allow for fruit and vegetable content claims. On display were blueberry, celery, spinach, squash, strawberry and tomato in different shapes (perfect for customization).

Custom Melts, a patent-pending technology from Sargento Foods Inc., allows manufacturers and foodservice providers to quickly make a sauce for refrigerated and frozen products from Custom Melts, refrigerated solid cubes, slices, shreds and dices of cheese in more than a dozen flavor varieties, including Garlic-Herb, Sharp Cheddar, Alfredo, Pepper Jack, Creamy Pesto and Country Gravy. Custom Melts control melt temperatures and have excellent cling. Just add to a hot dish and it turns into a scrumptious sauce in minutes. They can be customized for processors and would be perfect in meal kits or side dishes.

Innophos Inc. generated lots of interest at the show with demonstrations of its VersaCal Clear calcium. The product is a highly soluble calcium designed for enhancing clear beverages. Its also a good source of phosphorous.

Less is more

Reducing salt seems to be the mantra for many food companies. Assisting them in this endeavor was Cargill's SaltWise sodium reduction systems. They can reduce sodium levels 25-50 percent while delivering the punch of salt.

Similarly, Ajinomoto Food Ingredients highlighted its savory seasoning Koji-Aji. A powdered ingredient, it provides the sensation of kokumi, a Japanese concept combining enhanced flavor impact, balance texture and increased mouthfeel. DSM Nutritional Products launched Sensarite, which can boost saltiness or reduce bitterness and off-notes in bakery and dairy applications.

Morton Salt developed Morton Lite Salt, a 50/50 blend of salt and potassium chloride for sodium reduction and potassium fortification. You couldn't eat just one potato chip at the booth of Jungbunzlauer Inc. Even though the company used Sub4Salt, a blend of mineral salts that reduce sodium content by up to 50 percent, the salt flavor of the chips made them a crowd favorite.

Sugar reduction also was on the minds of attendees. Univar USA launched BakeSweet, a new line of category-centric sweetener blends to reduce sugar in cakes, cookies, bakery mixes, fillings and icings.

New Nutrinova Inc. are GumSweet for sugar-free gums and TwoSweet for carbonated beverages, fruit drinks and beverage mixes. Nutrinova found in clinical trials that a 50-50 blend of its Sunnett ace-K and sucralose can be used to totally or partially replace sugar in flavored yogurt applications. And Splenda sucralose in granular form was debuted by Tate and Lyle.

Fishing for omega-3

Omega-3 oils will be in more food products next year. Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. confides Les Truffes au Chocolat Inc. is including Meg-3 in its O Trois line of chocolate bars and chocolate fingers. Each bar contains 100 mg of EPA/DHA from fish oil.

Cognis Nutrition and Health launched Omevital 1812 TG Gold, omega-3 oil with long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA, developed for dairy products, spreads and other fat-based applications.

Even Hormel is getting into the act. Hormel Health Technology LLC and the Specialty Products Division of Hormel Foods launched Eterna odorless omega-3 fish oils, which eliminate all traces of fishy taste, odor and impurities. And The Wright Group celebrated its 50th anniversary with a newly developed microencapsulated, High DHA Omega e, utilizing its proprietary SuperCoat microencapsulation technology.

Meanwhile, Kemin Food Ingredients developed Fortium RPT40, a liquid antioxidant for hard-to-stabilize matrices such as fish oils and other applications containing omega-3s. It's a combination of rosemary extract, tocopherols and ascorbyl palmitate.

Mars Inc. created a new scientific division called Mars Botanical, based in Rockville, Md., to focus on research and product development involving flavanols -- naturally occurring plant compounds or phytonutrients found in cocoa, tea, wine, nuts and certain fruits and vegetables. "The field of micronutrients is still in its infancy and we believe the study of natural plant compounds such as flavanols holds tremendous promise for the future," said Bruce Suezaki, general manager.

Oh, and since we've explained the belly dancers and baobab of our headline, we ought to account for the bed. Davisco Foods International amused attendees with a couple snoozing in bed throughout the show. They were demonstrating the attributes of Butter Pecan Flavored Southern Snooze milk beverage, which contained BioPure-Alphalactalbumin, a purified whey protein fraction rich in tryptophan, an amino acid associated with improved sleep and morning alertness.

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