Sauces and Dressings Retooled for Cleaner Labels

Innovative flavors drive category growth for condiments, pasta sauce and cooking sauces, but reformulating for a cleaner ingredient deck is also the order of the day.

By David Phillips, Technical Editor

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“The organic movement is still gaining ground in the general marketplace, and the salad dressing industry is creating products to suit this consumer desire,” says Maureen Akins, technology manager with TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md.

For product developers formulating organic dressings, TIC Gums offers TICorganic Saladizer 100, a 100 percent certified organic gum blend designed to stabilize salad dressings and marinades. Akins says the product helps imparts cling and thickens and emulsifies the system. Additionally, Saladizer 100 helps to texturize the dressing so the desired mouthfeel can be achieved, she says.

Hydrocolloids can also serve functions in sauces. “They can help with thickening, emulsification and textural attributes to help our customers achieve their product development goals,” Akins says. “In particular, synergistic blends of guar and xanthan – our Action Gum series – can provide added viscosity, suspension and textural benefits in a cost-effective manner. Emulsifiers such as gum arabic can provide necessary oil-in-water emulsion stability while maintaining a cleaner label appearance.”

Current trends in pasta sauces often involve consumer convenience; an example is prepackaged meal kits that include pasta and a sauce. These sauces require special formulation attention, Akins points out. Manufacturers may initially freeze the ingredients to ensure successful distribution. Once at the distribution sites, these meals can be thawed out and refrigerated before delivery to the final destination for consumers to purchase and prepare in their homes.

“Maintaining product quality through this type of freeze-thaw cycling requires the use of hydrocolloids to manage the water present in each of the components. In particular, emulsion stability, viscosity and texture must be maintained to ensure a successful delivery of the product to the consumer. The addition of hydrocolloids helps to provide consistency to the product, both visually and from an eating perspective,” Akins says.

Ingredients such as locust bean gum, guar and xanthan are commonly used to provide these necessary functionalities. And TIC has products specifically designed to stabilize and enhance a variety of sauce-type applications by providing emulsification, thickening and suspension characteristics while also adding cling.

The Ticaloid Saucier product is especially beneficial to stabilize sauces with a low pH that require emulsification, such as an Alfredo sauce or a butter-based sauce.

One concern that often keeps consumers away from a particular salad dressing is sugar content.

“It is not a secret that sauces and dressings are loaded with sugar,” says Thom King, president and CEO of Steviva Ingredients, Portland, Ore. “Consumer demand as well as proposed government mandates on added sugar reporting on labels are driving manufacturers toward clean-label sugar reduction.

“We provide several clients with clean label sugar alternatives that can clean up labels and reduce added sugars by up to 90 percent,” King says.

These products include Erysweet plus with stevia, an erythritol-stevia blend available in a 100 mesh that dissolves into process immediately and delivers bright flavor profiles in a sauce or dressing application. The company also offer Nectevia, a stevia-fortified agave nectar that can serve as plug-in replacement for DE42 HFCS while cutting added sugars in half.

Perhaps invigorating the sauce and dressing categories will be as simple as adding Sriracha to a barbeque sauce, or formulating a dressing with lime juice, but tomorrow’s sauces will look and taste different from those of today.

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