Another near-record crowd -- more than 23,000 people – attended or at least registered for the Institute of Food Technologists' IFT 2015 Annual Meeting & Food Expo, held July 11-14 in Chicago's McCormick Place.
Attendees came from 84 countries to attend the mostly ingredients-oriented show (although processing equipment suppliers are a significant presence).
A number of trends played out at the show. While "natural" and "organic" starred at previous food expos, the trend toward a broader cleaning up of labels was apparent in many of the exhibits. And the end result of cleaner labels may be another topic at the show: a better reputation for food science and "Big Food."
Ironically running somewhat counter to those thoughts, "Futurist" Mike Walsh, the keynote speaker, said the most successful food producers and manufacturers in the next decade will be the ones who harness the rapid advances in science and technology to meet the demands of the first fully digital generation as they become adults.
"The most disruptive group of future food consumers, I believe, are people who are currently celebrating their eighth birthday." Walsh said. "If you can understand how an eight-year-old thinks, you’re a long way toward understanding a transformative change in consumer behavior.”
Walsh singled out that age group because they were born in 2007—the same year the iPhone was introduced. They are the first generation to be connected from birth, he noted, so they are growing up with a much different outlook on shopping, cooking and eating than other generations. They will expect products that are customized, readily available and look good enough to be photographed and shared on social media.
China and Taiwan have made great advances in food safety, according to a panel discussion that included representatives of the China Food and Drug Administration, Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology and International Life Sciences Institute in Taiwan.
This year's Food Expo Innovation Awards went to:
- Aseptia Technologies for its AseptiWave Modular Advanced Thermal Processing System, which uses microwave-assisted thermal processing to deliver product quality for aseptically packaged foods and beverages.
- Corbion for Ultra Fresh Premium Advantage Enzyme Blend, which extends the shelf life, freshness, taste and flavor of bread while enabling the reduction of some ingredients, such as added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and yeast.
- Ecolab for its DrySan Duo Two-Step, No-Rinse Cleaner & Sanitizer. Designed for dry and low-moisture processing environments, the product reduces cleaning time by eliminating the use of rinse water between cleaning and sanitizing.
- Parabel for Lentein plant protein, which is derived from water lentils. The highly digestible protein has an amino acid profile comparable to whey protein and is claimed to be higher in essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids than any other plant protein. It contains 65-70 percent protein, omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids and antioxidants.
More than 1,225 companies were represented in some 2,600 booths. We couldn't get around to all of them, but here are highlights from the three dozen or so that we did visit:
Grain Millers highlighted its conventional organic, non-genetically modified oats, corn, wheat barley, rye, triticale and flax seeds. The company manufactures a full range of grains in the form of whole and cut grains, flakes, flours, meals, brans, fibers and blends. It has seven processing plants in North America and international offices in Mexico and China. It also sells a variety of specialized ingredients.
Loders Croklaan continued to highlight its replacements for partially hydrogenated oils, which are due to be phased out by mid-2018. The newest solution is a trans fat-free formulation of its widely used Durkex 500 product, Durkex 500 NT.
Real egg ingredients that afford functionality were on view at the American Egg Board. The egg can emulsify, bind, stabilize, aerate and coagulate, plus more than 20 other functions. Egg ingredients can also be listed as "eggs" on packaging labels. Samples of product concepts made with eggs demonstrated their great taste, versatility and nutritional aspects.
There were two halves to the Sensient booth. The ingredients unit showed a wide variety of new tastes, from new alcohol flavors (red wine reduction, brandy flavor, IPA and stout beer types and Kentucky bourbon and margarita types) to chili pepper varietals from India to Umami Natural, a clean-label blend of natural ingredients "designed to bring harmony and balance to savory food products." The colors side of the house continued its tip toward natural colors with Pure-S natural colors, which promise vibrant colors from plant-based, natural color sources without flavor off-notes.
TIC Gums' ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage texture and stabilization solutions focused on low pH and high-protein applications. Health and wellness trends penetrate the RTD beverage category, but these drinks must have textural attributes and a clean label, which contributes to formulation complexity. Ticaloid Pro 571 SET, incorporated in a cinnamon oat beverage at the show, provided the stability needed in such high-protein beverages without being too thick. Developers seeking a clean label, non-GMO or organic option can choose Ticaloid Pro 148 OG, which suspends high-protein systems, enhances mouth coating and creates a more indulgent beverage. Dairyblend Acidified Beverage 120 provides a uniform color while reducing the awareness of particulates. This cost-effective system was demonstrated with samples of a raspberry yogurt beverage throughout the show. For clean label or non-GMO formulations, TIC Pretested Apple Pectin AM 800 impacts mouth coating, enhances slipperiness and reduces the awareness of particulates.
The Fortitech business unit was front and center for DSM. The maker of custom nutrient premixes showed a market-ready powdered beverage using PowerCap technology (which when twisted drops in vitamins A, C and E), an RTD beauty-from-within beverage featuring FloraGlo lutein and other product prototypes for bone/joint health, endurance, kids’ health, satiety, heart health and healthy aging.
Aronia is a recent addition to Milne Fruit Products. The exotic berry, also known in this country as chokeberry, has high phytochemical and nutrient values. There were 450 new products introduced to the market with aronia as an ingredient in 2013 and about 325 in 2014. The majority of these are beverages but also include baby food, cereals bars and candies. Milne, which is a vertically integrated grower and manufacturer, offers aronia as IQF frozen, purees, MicroDried and powders.
New to IFT, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients creates sweet potato products such as juice and dehydrated ingredients (flour and granules) that are sourced and processed in North Carolina. The company touted the benefits of its clean-label sweet potato ingredients and application prototypes, and exhibited a menu of healthy samples, including a 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice blend, a nutrition bar featuring a dehydrated sweet potato crumble; marinated sliders and condiments, such as a ketchup formulated with sweet potato juice concentrate; and Eli’s Cheesecake topped with a vegan caramel sauce, which all convey how sweet potato ingredients can replace artificial sweeteners and unpopular ingredients. The firm also opened a new processing plant in September.
Bay State Milling introduced BeneGrain sprouted flour, milled from hard red spring wheat, which helps improves volume and flavor balance through a carefully controlled germination process. Readily available in whole-wheat flour and steel-cut varieties, the flour can features cuts and cracks for inclusions and customized blends. BeneGrain sprouted brown rice flour was developed for use in a range of gluten-free applications. Both are available in conventional and certified organic forms.
Kikkoman's new gluten-free tamari soy sauce is a natural flavor enhancer with rich umami notes for Asian and mainstream flavor systems. Traditionally brewed under strict GFCO protocols without the conventional wheat used in regular soy sauce, it's preservative-free for a clean label and is available in liquid and granulated versions.
In the past decade, blueberries have experienced extraordinary growth with per capita consumption rising each year, according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. A record number of new products featuring blueberries enter the market each month, as consumers have become aware of blueberries' health benefits. Growers and processors have kept pace with demand, and now processed blueberries in frozen, liquid, dried and other formats are plentiful.
Teaming the expertise of its recently acquired Wild Flavors and Specialty Commodities, ADM says it now has food and flavor solutions for just about every product category and market segment. Its various technical teams focused on ancient grains, dehydrated fruits, seeds, Clarisoy isolated soy protein, Textura inclusions, formulations for better-for-you products, edible oils that can replace partially hydrogenated oils and ways to reduce sugar in products with ingredients. For the last, VivaSweet sucralose is new, a zero-calorie sweetener that blends well with other sweeteners for use in beverages, bakery applications and dairy products, and its isolated soy protein ingredients that can enrich the protein content of beverages. Suitable for use in virtually any food or beverage, VivaSweet blends well with other sweeteners and can be used for a variety of beverage, baking and dairy applications, among others.
Ingredion focused on three food trends in its booth: "Simple foods, simple ingredients" (non-GMO sweeteners and starches, clean label, pulse flours, potato starch and gums); "Healthy eating, healthy ingredients" (featuring fibers and prebiotics to support digestive health, sugar reduction, weight and energy management solutions and added protein with pulse proteins); and "New foods, new ingredients" (cooking demonstrations showcasing ingredients to appeal to target demographics and integrating global trends, fusion, comfort and convenience). In addition to the longstanding Ingredion portfolio, fava (faba) beans are a relatively new ingredient that added gluten-free protein to many of the company's prototypes.
Denatured spirits long have been specialties of Mizkan. Moonshine and Porter Ale were the most recent additions to that line. Porter ale adds a dark flavor to finished products ranging from tangy and savory to sweet. It works well in marinades, dressings, sauces, soups, demi-glazes, food bases and prepackaged meals. Moonshine is an un-aged white whiskey that contributes its own distinctive flavor to similar finished products.
Dolcia Prima has been the star of this year's marketing efforts by Tate & Lyle. The low-calorie "sugar" (allulose) sweetened soft-serve ice cream and craft root beer along with other company ingredients such as Tasteva stevia, Krystar crystalline fructose; and Promitor soluble corn fiber added fiber to those treats.
GNT has focused on natural colors from fruit, vegetable and plant concentrates. Its Exberry line imparted bright and vibrant color shades to a nunber of foods and beverages at the show, including confectionery, beverages, dairy products or pastries.
The chicken skewers at Grain Processing Corp. were juicier thanks to the addition of Pure-Gel modified starch (which also increased yield 125 percent). Despite being through freeze/thaw cycles, the muffins maintained their quality with Inscosity instant modified starch.
Corbion launched new, natural ingredients for meat and poultry that ensure food safety and enhance shelf life, yield, taste, texture and appearance. Plus, for manufacturers seeking to remove partially hydrogenated oils, Corbion showed its Ensemble line of non-PHO emulsifiers.
Bunge's IFT menu was crafted with ancient grains (including red and white millet, white sorghum and white quinoa), saturate sparing shortening and Phytobake vegetable-based plastic shortening, which replaces traditional shortening saturates with phytosterols.
As more and more consumers want to know where their food comes from, Cargill Inc. is launching what it says is the first traceable high-oleic canola oil supply chain. Beginning Oct. 1, the company will map all aspects of its North American high-oleic canola supply chain through its Knowing Your Roots: from farm to table program. The project will walk customers and consumers through the entire supply chain, from seed development and farming the canola, through oil processing and packaging, on to the foodservice operations and food ingredient manufacturing using the product and finally to consumers. Cargill produces Clear Valley canola oils and shortenings as well as IngreVita EPA/DHA omega-3 oil.
Natural energy-management options from Beneo include Palatinose, which provides sustained body cell energy derived from beet sugar. Suitable for food and energy drink applications, Palatinose is a low-glycemic sugar with different physiological characteristics than conventional sugar to promote enhanced fat oxidation during physical activity. Samples of a breakfast cookie combined the sweetness of Palatinose with the fiber of Orafti inulin. Gluten-free muffins containing Beneo's rice starch, rice flour and prebiotic fiber oligofructose retain moistness and freshness and are also a good source of fiber. Market samples of Nth Degree’s low glycemic index drink use Palatinose as the low glycemic carbohydrate power in its formula.
McIlhenny Co.'s Tabasco pepper sauce is available in liquid, intermediate moisture and dry formulations. The fermented sauce demonstrated its pizzaz in chilli, a savory Bloody Mary and an intriguing dessert at IFT. The bright, bold distinctive sauce comes in 12 formulations, such as Buffalo-Style, Green Jalapeno and Habanero. There's also a Spray Dry flavor with the unique Tabasco Original Red Sauce flavor profile in an easy-to-use, free-flowing, light-orange-to-red powder.
Citri-Fi 125 from Fiberstar Inc. is its latest clean-label citrus fiber functional ingredient derived from orange peel using physical processing. Developed to maintain or improve taste, texture and mouthfeel, it has a high water holding capacity and a higher viscosity than Citri-100 in some applications. Non-allergenic, non-GMO and gluten-free, 125 is a free-flowing beige powder for bakery, dressing, sauces, dairy and meat applications.
Bell Flavors and Fragrances took show-goers overseas with Southeast Asian flavors in the form of Vietnamese Kho Bao Tacos, featuring Bell’s Bo Kho Spice flavor (warm spices), a lychee-flavored cupcake (a sweet tropical flavor with juicy and citrusy notes reminiscent of a grapefruit), a sweet potato-flavored cupcake (Japanese sweet potatoes are roasted over hot rocks and drizzled in a sweet honey icing) and a Hatteok, a Korean street pastry filled with red bean paste enhanced by Bell’s Red Bean Flavor. Red bean paste is usually made from adzuki beans boiled and mashed with a sweetener and is commonly used in mooncakes, pastries and as an ice cream flavor. Bell also served three drink concepts supported by the company's new trend program, Spark: a White Peach tea, a Chai Cardamom tea and a Devil’s Morning Breath Bloody Mary.
Futurals from Roha Food Colors are brilliant, stable shades of coloring made from concentrates of fruits, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and algae using physical processes. Futurals are extracted from edible materials found in nature. The company makes Natracol and Idacol natural and artificial food colors, as well as extracts, preparations, concentrates and fruit juices.
New identity-preserved organic and non-GMO ingredients at SK Food International include whole, cracked, ground and blended whole and sprouted grains, as well as its ancient grains such as teff and emmer, amaranth and quinoa. The company provides niche markets with specialty ingredients that are gluten-free, have omega-3s, are whole grain and trans-fat free. The company also produces seeds, soybeans, pulses, expeller oils and flours/flakes and meals.
Welch’s Global Ingredients Group debuted FruitWorx, concord grapes and other fruits that are concentrated and shelf stable for 17 months. Initially targeted for snack-food and baked-goods manufacturers, the inclusions contain the polyphenols and other bioactives found in the skin of the fruit, which typically is discarded in conventional processing.
Ardent Mills put its sprouted whole wheat and organic flours front and center at its Mobile Innovation Center/booth. Also highlighted were two additions to its Ultragrain line of whole wheat flour: High-Performance Ultragrain, with half the gluten and better hydration, and Protein Rich Ultragrain.
Blue Diamond Growers' global ingredients division believes healthier eating, not gluten-free composition, is driving adoption of its new line of almond flour, with each quarter cup containing 6g protein, 3.5g fiber and 75mg of calcium. Bakers can choose from three options: fine blanched, extra fine blanched and extra fine natural.
Solazyme Inc. is all about algae grown through fermentation. Processing it as an oil replacer, protein-rich flour or other ingredient is enabling Solazyme to help food processors improve their products’ health profile and deal with availability issues for eggs and other conventional ingredients. Example: swapping out eggs in a challah bread formulation for AlgaVia algal flour eliminates saturated fat and cholesterol, reduces fat content 63 percent and cuts calorie count 20 percent.
Glanbia Nutritionals Inc. highlighted the three newest additions to its egg-replacement line. With Avian Influenza reducing egg availability for the foreseeable future and driving up prices, OptiSol 3200, 3400 and 3900 provide more options for manufacturers of a range of baked goods.
ICL Food Specialties, which has long focused on baking ingredients, will be stretching its portfolio in the coming months with a line of dairy flavors and ingredients.
Ganeden, which has successfully added its probiotic BC30 to a number of branded products, unveiled the creation of Frutalose Pro, developed with Sensus America. The liquid prebiotic is chicory root fiber syrup blended with BC30 to create a low-sugar, low-calorie, clinically proven symbiotic designed to maximize health benefits to the consumer, particularly in the areas of protein utilization and digestive health.