Although hot weather is not my cup of tea, nothing could keep me from attending the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2012 Annual Meeting and Food Expo June 26-28 in Las Vegas. This year, my only regret was that I couldn’t spend time at every booth.
Tasting the creative, healthy and delicious prototype food and beverages created by the supplier community is my favorite part of the show, and keeps me coming back for more. I’m always amazed how they come up with prototypes that are in sync with consumer trends and desires. They are so well thought-out, they could be on retail shelves just as they are.
Kid-friendly food & beverage products took center stage at Cargill (www.cargill.com). With 25 percent less sodium than a traditional quesadilla (thanks to SodiumSelect, a new sodium reduction system), fewer calories and fats and more whole grains, fiber and protein, Chicken Quesadillas were so tasty I had to do a roundabout to sample them a second time.
Everything is better in color, so we checked out the newest innovations at D.D. Williamson/colorMaker (www.ddwcolor.com). They included certified organic annatto powder; oil dispersible caramel color; low 4-MEI caramel color and Acid-proof Class One "Plain" caramel color. The process cheese shapes for children contained naturally derived color — a great treat for kids of all ages.
Fortitech Inc. (www.fortitech.com) focused on increased energy, improved cardio health and weight control with several custom-formulated premixes. For weight management, the premix blend contained niacin, pantothenic acid, chromium, L-carnitine, CLA, green tea extract, calcium and potassium. An energy premix included vitamins B12 and B6, CoQ10, pantothenic acid, niacin, folic acid, biotin, taurine, D-glucoronolactone and D-ribose. Since I was fatigued, I really enjoyed taking advantage of the Cranberry Flavored Power Cap, a neat gizmo that fits over a bottle of water and releases whatever premix you want into the liquid. Gave me lots of energy. It’s the next age in beverage product development for the retail market.
At Wild Flavors (www.wildflavors.com), seasonal prototypes, such as Mint Lemonade sweetened with stevia, were in abundance, many of them using natural mint flavors and ingredients made possible from its recent acquisition of A.M. Todd. Consumers love the mini concept, so Wild’s Mini-Sandwich Trio really hit the trend both in size and flavors. The mini sandwich threesome included: sundried tomato and lemon marinated chicken with parmesan and garlic aioli on a Mediterranean roll; smoked paprika and stout turkey breast with apple honey mustard on pumpernickel roll; and shredded pork with Georgia peach BBQ sauce and cider molasses glazed onions on a poppy seed bun.
Although known primarily for Asian cuisine, Kikkoman Sales USA Inc. (www.kikkomanusa.com/foodmanufacturers) featured three American-made products at IFT with a delicious meatball prototype for each. These products regulate sodium intake and enhance flavor. Kikkoman Natural Flavor Enhancer (NFE-P), which amplifies umami goodness in savory applications and replaces MSG and HVP while providing a clean label, was used in turkey meatballs. Less Sodium PTN Soy Sauce, which contains 45 percent less sodium than regular soy sauce, was highlighted in beef meatballs. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce is naturally brewed with four ingredients: water, soybeans, rice and salt. Paired with gluten-free breadcrumbs it made for tasty gluten-free turkey meatballs.
Corn Products and National Starch celebrated their new name — Ingredion (www.ingredion.com/us). We stopped at the Natural/Clean Label counter to partake of the addictive Cheesecake Dessert, made with the new Novation Indulge 3340 texture system. It was topped with an exotic coconut lucuma fruit topping, made with Novation Prima 600 functional native starch.
Chef John Czukor thrilled us during an almonds and aperitifs flavor pairing at the Almond Board of California (www.almondboard.com/FoodProfessionals) booth with Milk Chocolate Almond Clusters — smoky roasted almonds with a light caramelly milk chocoate, with Jack Daniels Whiskey. Hints of the Jack Daniels’ sweet butterscotch notes pair perfectly with the distinct, buttery flavor of California almonds, creating a balanced sweetness that isn’t overpowering. The sharpness of the alcohol is mitigated by the chocolate’s soft creaminess and neutralized by smooth roasted almond.
Key snacking trends include kid-friendly, nutritious snacks and bite-sized, portion-controlled snacks for adults. Grain Processing Corp. (www.grainprocessing.com) outdid itself with a kid-friendly pizza snack (perfect for school lunches), featuring TruBran corn bran, a natural, insoluble dietary fiber with a light creamy color that boosts fiber levels without sacrificing taste. I know these are perfect for kids, but they were a hit with the "kid" in us all.
Thinking outside the conventional teacup, Virginia Dare (www.virginiadare.com) brewed dark chocolate flavored black tea, featuring TT99 Natural Black Tea Concentrate, which eliminates the need for tea solids in RTD tea beverages, and Natural Dark Chocolate Flavor. It’s a delicious, refreshing, yet unexpected combination sure to appeal to both coffee and tea lovers.