“Globally, consumers are expecting more from food products than basic nutrition,” he continues. “Consumers are increasingly looking for products providing an additional health benefit, without having to compromise on taste and convenience.”
Many ingredient manufacturers supplying concentrated plant ingredients are putting all their eggs into the health basket. San Joaquin Valley Concentrates Inc. (www.sjvconc.com), Fresno, Calif., a provider of grape and grape seed extracts and powders, underwrites research into the efficacy of polyphenolic compounds found in grapes.
Blue California Ingredients (www.bluecal-ingredients.com), Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., which has an expansive line of naturally derived, bioactive fruit and vegetable ingredients, focuses on purity with its kosher and organic offerings. Israeli company Frutarom Inc. (www.frutarom.com) has become a global presence specializing in discovering new benefits of exotic plant-derived ingredients.
Some current trends in the beverage market are stick packs with real fruit and vegetable powders, smoothie mixes with multiple berry and fruit blends and vegetable and fruit mixes with protein, fiber, tea and other naturally healthy components. Where will these ingredients land in the future?
“The sky’s the limit with these ingredients,” declares Matt Phillips, president and COO of Cyvex Nutrition Inc. (www.cyvex.com), Irvine, Calif. The company provides a wide range of ultra-pure concentrated fruit, vegetable and botanical powders, extracts and nutraceutical ingredients. “We’ll see them in (more) children’s products to deliver servings of fruits and vegetables — in dairy products, ice cream, popsicles, etc.”
According to Phillips, many food and beverage companies now are looking at fruit and vegetable ingredients to deliver ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values. “Powdered drink companies, sports nutrition companies and others all are working on ORAC products,” he says.
“We are starting to see more ‘condition-specific’ marketing, for example targeting a blueberry product toward supporting healthy vision or a healthy, sharp mind,” says Colleen Zammer, director of sales for Momence, Ill.-based FutureCeuticals Inc. (www.futureceuticals.com), a supplier of dried fruits and vegetables. “There certainly continues to be plenty of research in the works to better promote condition-specific claims, as the more general ‘good-for-you’ approach is getting weak.”
Consumer interest in certified organic ingredients and natural ingredients continues to grow and will impact the fruit and vegetable ingredient category as well.
Finally, the flavor quality of the raw fruit and vegetable products going into ingredient production should see advances through such efforts as metabolic engineering, post-harvest treatments, storage and distribution, plant breeding aspects and quality assessment. All that’s according to Grant Wyllie of ChromOil Consultants, Australia, in <I>Fruit And Vegetable Flavour: Recent Advances and Future Prospects</I> (Woodhead Publishing, 2008 – see http://www.woodheadpublishing.com/EN/book.aspx?bookID=1253).
Note to Plant Ops
Fruit and vegetable powders and extracts provide a stable form of the product until it is ready to be used in the process. Single-strength concentrations of fruit and vegetables require heat processing and careful storage before use. Powders do not require refrigeration and generally retain their color, flavor and nutritional profile over the shelf-life of the product.
“But many of the challenges applying to powder products also apply to fruit and vegetable powders and extracts,” reminds Andrew Lynch of Kerry Ingredients. “The type and composition of the starting material, concentration and dehydration process can influence nutritive quality, color, flavor, microbiological load and solubility/dispersability in a beverage.”
Antioxidants and other critical nutrients are sensitive to oxygen as well as heat and light. Processor should consider “pH, temperature, processes — for example hot-fill versus cold-fill — and packaging barrier properties as well as label opacity … so you are delivering whatever it is you may claim over the course of the shelf life of the product,” adds Colleen Zammer of FutureCeuticals.
And because of significant quality differences in apparently identical products, processors should consider third-party lab testing for the most frequently used ingredients in order to assure maximum potency, purity and authenticity.