The Battle for the Cereal Bowl

Key to creating innovative value added products

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All the right ingredients
A lot goes into selecting the right ingredients for breakfast cereal formulations. "Proper ingredient selection requires knowledge of the finished product attributes and manufacturing process," says Cristina Munteanu, senior technical services specialist at Corn Products International, Westchester, Ill.

"Stability during processing and storage is key in delivering health and wellness benefits. Functional ingredients that do not impact the shape, appearance and uniformity of the cereals, while providing desired crunchiness and crispiness as well as good taste and visual appeal, are ideal."

Corn Products offers ingredients that enhance breakfast cereals and breakfast bars. "NutraFlora is a soluble prebiotic fiber containing a minimum of 95 percent short-chain fructooligosaccharides, or scFOS," she explains. "NutraFlora can be added at any point during the manufacturing process without detracting from the organoleptic characteristics of the product. It supports digestive function, increases calcium absorption and supports a healthy immune system. It requires low inclusion rates for health benefits, making it a great choice for inclusion in a variety of products, including breakfast cereals and bars."

Another option is BioAgave, "an agave-derived source of inulin that supports digestive health and provides an easy way to incorporate added fiber into foods, beverages and supplements," she says. "Because BioAgave is plant-based and extracted using a highly natural process, it is a great choice for manufacturers of organic and natural products, including breakfast products."

Raising the (cereal) bar
There are similar challenges in creating breakfast bars. "For bars, hardening over time in soft bars is a challenge," says Aubrey Gregg, food technologist at Decatur, Ill.-based Tate & Lyle. "When processing formed bars, the viscosity of the syrup is also important. If it is too viscous, the bar will likely become too compact which contributes to hardening; if it is not viscous enough, the bar will be too weak and will easily fall apart.

"Replacing ingredients in bars when reducing sugar can be challenging, as well, because it is a balancing act to get the appropriate texture desired. Adjusting the water slightly in this instance can help."

As in the dry cereal categories, cleaner, simpler labels are big in bars. "In partnering with manufacturers on reformulations and new product development, we find they are focusing on delivering products with fewer ingredients and simpler ingredient decks, and products that can be considered as natural by consumers," she says.

"For bars, ingredients like Tate & Lyle's Promitor Soluble Corn Fiber are great because consumers understand the label. It is not chemical sounding, and it is great for adding fiber and bulk while reducing calories and sugar. In fact, research we conducted earlier this year found that 71 percent of consumers are likely to purchase a food or drink product made with soluble corn fiber."

"Sta-Lite Polydextrose is a very cost effective fiber and bulking agent that is also low in sugar and calories, and Splenda sucralose is a great ingredient that can be used to bring back that sweetness when taking sugar solids or other sweetening ingredients out. It is zero calorie and safe for diabetics."

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