Food Processors Looking at the Whole (Grain) Truth About Breakfast Cereal
Despite what seems to be a perpetual war on carbohydrates, it's hard to escape this enduring tradition.
Cereals have been migrating back to the more healthful formulations their creators espoused — specifically, whole-grain formats and the use of higher protein and fiber ingredients, such as barley and legumes. At the same time, other ingredients have entered breakfast cereals and baked goods that would not have been dreamed of or even possible 120 years ago. While fortification with vitamins and minerals, especially folate, have become standards, probiotic bacteria and omega-3 oils are two important ingredient categories that have remade the breakfast table.
Omega-3 oils have made it into breakfast foods in recent years thanks to encapsulation and the recognition that plant sources (specifically, alpha-linolenic acid, ALA) are more bioavailable than once believed. Multiple cereal, bar and hot cereal manufacturers have added flax seed, an excellent source of ALA, to their line-ups. Chia and hemp seeds, other rich ALA sources, are coming on fast as must-have ingredients.
Nature's Path's (www.naturespath.com), Richmond, British Columbia, created a new line of cereals branded "Qi'a" (pronounced kee-ah) that offers "a blend of chia seeds, buckwheat and hemp seeds as a high-protein alternative both to traditional breakfast cereals and to a high-protein animal-based breakfast."
Kashi Co. (www.kashi.com), La Jolla, Calif. (now a part of Kellogg), continues to promote whole grains by introducing new combinations for traditional applications. Its GoLean line of breakfast foods emphasizes whole grains as a source of protein, not merely a source of complex carbohydrates.
Many consumers automatically link protein exclusively with animal foods and forget virtually all foods contribute to protein needs. In fact, grains and beans provide more protein worldwide than do animal products. The Kashi marketing approach to attracting consumers is to compare the protein content of their breakfast cereals to that of eggs.
"At Kashi, we believe breakfast should offer sustenance and also be something you can enjoy eating," says Jeff Johnson, senior nutritionist for Kashi. "We received a very positive response after introducing GoLean Crisp cereal last year, so we want to continue surprising people with new ways to get as much protein as an egg."
Kashi GoLean cereals contain 9-13g protein per 100g serving, while a large egg has 6g protein per 50g serving. Kashi hot and cold cereals, bars and granola products hit other popular breakfast trend targets by being minimally processed and free of highly refined sugars, artificial additives and preservatives, plus promote corporate responsibility.
Kashi Co. promotes whole grains by introducing new combinations for traditional applications.
An integratory approach
It's hard to pinpoint the ingredients that make up a good breakfast in this day and age without a little legwork first. While many ingredient companies have been engaging clients more directly with product development partnerships and innovation centers, Ingredion Inc. (www.ingredion.com/us), Westchester, Ill. (the new name for the company born of the merger between National Starch Inc. and Corn Products Inc.) provides its manufacturing partners with market and consumer insights "to help them develop on-trend products that deliver on consumer breakfast preferences."
"Our broad portfolio of nutrition, sweetener and texture ingredient solutions — coupled with expertise in the areas of food and nutrition science, sensory, texture and culinology — help get products to market faster," says Patrick O'Brien, marketing manager for the company's bakery division. The key applications the company targets within the breakfast category include cereals, bars, RTE oatmeal and powdered pancake and similar mixes, as well as the ancillary breakfast goodies yogurt, juice and smoothies.
"Utilizing Ingredion's 'Dial-in Texture' approach and ingredient solutions, we can help manufacturers in the breakfast category create new, unique textures to help meet consumer preferences," says O'Brien. "Or, we can help maintain existing texture when replacing other ingredients for nutrition or cost-saving purposes."
Nutritional benefits are key differentiators in selling to increasingly sophisticated, health-conscience consumers, he adds. "Breakfast manufacturers can't ask consumers to sacrifice taste or texture," he notes. The company's portfolio includes prebiotic and soluble fibers, resistant starch, whole grain corn flour and a proprietary mineral source, providing important benefits in the areas of digestive health, bone/joint health, glycemic balance and immunity.
Multiple approaches to health
"The current recommendation from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services suggests replacing saturated fatty acids with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and to keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible," points out Diane Carnell, product category manager-emulsifiers for Caravan Ingredients Inc. (www.caravaningredients.com), Lenexa, Kan. "For the baking industry, this poses problems.
"Traditionally, hard or hydrogenated fats have been used to give the necessary structure to a wide variety of baked items, including breakfast pastries. It's difficult to get the same functionality when starting to remove these [undesired] fats," she says. The company's Trancendim oil provides a solution to this problem. It allows manufacturers to replace traditional shortenings or palm with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils which have been structured with Trancendim.