The consumer trend toward natural ingredients has prompted many food manufacturers to source non-artificial ingredients.
Manufacturers who rely on fiber to enhance their products may find themselves in a sticky situation if they want to declare a clean label. In our 2012 article about bakery trends, one of our sources mentioned a new kind of texturizer called Citri-Fi. This functional fiber ingredient is derived from the pulp of oranges. It's non-GMO, gluten-free, and non-allergenic. Did we mention it's also made in the United States too? In a word, we think this ingredient is rather innovative.
When Fiberstar, the company that makes Citri-Fi, invited us to learn more about the fiber ingredient we couldn't help but say yes.
In early November, Fiberstar hosted nearly 100 of its distributors for an innovation conference held in Girona, Spain. For three days, distributors were treated to a global array of product innovations all using Citri-Fi as one of its ingredients.
Several members of the food trade press, including me, were invited to the conference to not only learn about the ingredient, but also to award the coveted prize for most innovative use of Citri-Fi.
Taken from the fiber-rich pulp of an orange, the product can be used alongside or as a replacement to hydrocolloid gum. The possibilities for this fiber ingredient seem endless: it improves texture; reduces moisture and ice crystal formation; retains natural juices while cooking meat products; reduces cholesterol from partial replacement of eggs; and reduces calories, fat, trans fat and saturated fat. Because it is derived from orange pulp, it has the added benefit of being considered a clean label ingredient as well.
Trying to isolate which of the products had the most innovative use of the ingredient proved to be a fascinating experience. Every product offered improved health benefits and efficiencies – both hallmarks of ingredient innovation.
Examples of how the product was used included:
- in a kids-cake to increase fiber, reduce saturated fat and calories and double shelf-life
- to bind find and oils for a chocolate and peanut butter product
- reduced oil uptake and replaced eggs in bakery doughnut
- improved market capabilities for a protein vitamin milk shake
- increased water-holding capacity in bread dough
After carefully considering each product and its use of the ingredient, our judging committee awarded the top prize to the kids-cake, but not without marveling at how innovative food manufacturers have become using a little ingredient that most people take for granted.