IFT 2014: Architects of the Future of Food

Aug. 7, 2014
1,120 exhibitors at the June IFT Food Expo all play roles in the evolution of the food & beverage industry.

Food professionals from around the world gathered in June in New Orleans for the Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) 2014 Annual Meeting and Food Expo, which also celebrated IFT’s 75th anniversary. Attracting more than 16,500 registrants from 85 countries, the expo floor featured 1,120 exhibitors. There were more than 100 educational sessions and 1,000 poster sessions that provided information on recent developments and trends in food science.

The show began with keynote speaker Doug Rauch, currently the CEO of Conscious Capitalism, Portland, Ore., and the former CEO of Trader Joe’s, Monrovia, Calif. He spent 31 years with the specialty food retailer and after retiring decided to use his management talents to work on the problems of underserved urban food deserts, food waste and feeding the world sustainably.

Rauch claimed 33-40 percent of the food produced in the world is wasted, much of it never picked from the field for a variety of reasons. He highlighted the challenges facing the current and future food supply and discussed how most of the population has a very fuzzy concept of where food comes from.

He explained that in the U.S., “hunger has a new face — obesity.” The problem in the U.S. is not an empty stomach, rather it’s a shortage of nutrients and getting a healthy, well-balanced meal. He also addressed the issue of food waste. His opinion is that the next big food revolution will be about what we are wasting and how consumers need to change attitudes about purchasing imperfect or blemished foods.

This led to discussion about IFT’s funding of a website and documentary on the future of food and feeding the growing population of the world. The food scientists group on April 16 unveiled "FutureFood 2050," a wide-ranging program to "create a broad dialogue on how science will deliver solutions needed to feed the world’s nine billion people by the year 2050." And it was further promoted at the expo.

It will be a multimedia project, backed by print stories in several of the association's journals as well as a documentary film expected in mid to late 2015. "With the premise that the science of food is an essential ingredient for feeding the world sustainably, FutureFood 2050 will highlight the people and stories leading the way toward a healthier, safer and better nourished planet," the association said in the April announcement.

At the food expo, the session “A Filmmaker’s Perspective: FutureFood 2050 Panel Discussion,” featured website author Josh Schonwald and film director Scott Hamilton Kennedy explaining how both mediums over the coming months will explore the challenges the food industry will face and how the science of food is progressing to aid in feeding and sustaining the world.

Some of the food ingredient suppliers carried the sustainability theme into their trade show booths, often including a dose of cost savings and better-for-you, nutrient-dense formulating. Many showcased their ingredients in New Orleans-inspired prototypes. There seemed to be five recurring themes in the trade show: calorie reduction, fiber fortification, gluten elimination, natural colors and protein fortification.

Some suppliers experimented with emerging alternative protein sources. In the technical session titled “Real pioneers: experience with insect ingredients, processing, products and marketing,” speakers discussed the virtues of adding insects to the Western diet. Pat Crowley, founder of Chapul Inc., Salt Lake City, which makes the Chapul Cricket Bar, said insects are extremely nutritious and, in some cases, more nutritious than animal protein sources.

The speakers all agreed that the greatest obstacle will be getting consumers to accept insects as a source of protein. After all, based on the negative opinion many consumers have with carmine, a red color obtained from cochineal, insect protein does not likely complement the clean-label trend, which was a theme all over the show.

Market research firm Mintel, Chicago, offered daily presentations on “What’s next for clean label,” noting that the “no additives” package claim continues to gain global popularity as does formulating for label simplicity. Non-genetically modified ingredients are an important part of clean label.

Some will lament this is the last IFT show in New Orleans, at least for the foreseeable future. Next year's IFT show will be back in the association's hometown Chicago next July 11-14.

IFT was a coming-out party for Ardent Mills. The country's largest flour milling company, a joint venture between ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling (which itself was a joint venture between Cargill and CHS), was just given final Justice Dept. approval to exist three weeks before the show. The company drove into the show its semitrailer Mobile Innovation Center (MIC) filled with a range of on-trend, New Orleans-inspired applications. The menu included a fried alligator po’boy, which used bread made with the company’s stabilized bran and germ flour from white wheat.

Ingredion Inc. showcased its ingredients in prototypes addressing the top trends driving food industry growth, according to the company’s internal research. They are authenticity, back to basics, better-for-you snacking, global variety and holistic health. The company sampled a spinach gorgonzola Greek yogurt dip made with its clean-label functional native instant starch. The yogurt used in the dip was Greek-style, meaning it was high protein but not made using an authentic straining process. This is possible through the use of skim milk, milk protein concentrate and a special emulsifying texturant system.

Many suppliers showcased products enhanced with dairy proteins, either solo or in combination with plant proteins. For example, Celanese's Food Ingredients Division sampled a no-sugar-added breakfast shake made with low-fat cows milk, nonfat dry milk, rice milk and oat milk and sweetened with its proprietary blend of acesulfame potassium, sucralose and natural flavors – the last a part of its Qorus sweetening system. The result is a beverage with fewer calories, lower total carbohydrates and no added sugars, as compared to similar sugar-sweetened meal replacements.

IOI Loders Croklaan promoted its many palm-based oils as immediate replacements for partially hydrogenated oils and reinforced its use of only sustainable palm oil. SansTrans Donut Fry P-MB is a healthier solution for donut frying oils. FuseRite can partially or fully replace butterfat in baked goods, keeping costs under control and saturated fats below 49 percent.

Bunge Oils also has trans fat solutions, whether the final FDA determination is to eliminate PHOs or to reduce the allowable limit to 0.2g per serving. Replacements include two lines of UltraBlends. One is Low Saturate, No Hydro technology, which has zero trans fat, reduces saturates by more than 40 percent and provides levels of heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. UltraBlends Enzymatic Solutions are made with interesterified soybean oil to be drop-in options for all-purpose shortening, icing shortening, donut frying shortening and bakers margarine.

With protein gaining appreciation, Taco Bell opening for breakfast and McDonald's introducing the Egg White Delight McMuffin, eggs seem to be trending. The American Egg Board extolled the virtues of its namesake product, but for this audience – food formulators – focusing on how eggs can contribute to mouthfeel and texture, gluten-free formulating, extending shelf life, foaming and aeration, controlling crystallization, coagulation for structure and creating gels. They also are a familiar and clean label ingredient.

It’s no wonder Cargill Inc. named its booth “Foods of the Future,” and used this platform to showcase solutions enabling the development of more nutritious foods and beverages and more sustainable supply chains and ingredients. The company introduced soybean oil made from identity-preserved, non-GM soybeans. Cargill also debuted a shelf-stable, sensory-neutral oil blend of canola oil and a marine-based source of EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acids. The ingredient was sampled in a variety of New Orleans-inspired prototypes, including beignets, iced coffee mocha and remoulade.

Omega-3s also were a focal point for DSM which sampled its sustainable sources in a variety of food and beverage products. For salt reduction, the company showcased its toolkit of natural yeast extracts and process flavors for reducing sodium in prepared foods while maximizing taste and texture. And for stevia, DSM is using fermentation to create specific stevia glycosides, focusing mostly on rebaudioside-A and reb-D. Food grade samples should be available later this year, and the company expects to make a generally recognized as safe filing in about a year. Scientists from DSM spoke at a session titled “Innovations in Functional Beverages and Enhanced Waters: More than just Thirst Quenchers.” They discussed new functional ingredient opportunities and trends such as coloration. This includes the growing use of nature-identical color ingredients such as lycopene and beta-carotene.

Similar to DSM, leading stevia supplier PureCircle also is moving on to reb-D, other glycosides and even other components of the plant-based sweetener. The company reports reb-D is quietly moving into the marketplace, and more than 2,100 stevia-sweetened products were launched throughout the world last year, a 73 percent increase from 2012. Product launches are particularly strong in carbonated soft drinks, dairy, baked goods, juices and drink mix concentrates.

Fortitech Premixes by DSM sampled antioxidant gourmet coffee fortified with vitamins A, C and E, as well as B vitamins and vitamin D3. But most interesting were the gourmet marshmallows. Chocolate or raspberry flavored, these beauty-from-within treats were fortified with collagen, vitamin E and aloe vera to support skin health.

Newly Weds Foods is expanding its product line from its traditional batters and breadings to include seasonings from around the world. With its new motto "inspiring new tastes," the company's booth featured a live TV broadcast from one of its culinary kitchens to demonstrate its Kitchencounters program, a "global culinary multi-media connection [that] spans the Newly Weds Foods global culinary centers, including Thailand, Australia, China, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. It allows us instant access to the latest hot taste and food trends where and when they occur" -- and customers access to Newly Weds chefs around the world.

Sethness introduced at the show a non-GMO Class I liquid caramel color. SB121 is manufactured from non-genetically modified cane sucrose, making it suitable in non-GMO applications. The company also showed P600, "the darkest low-sulfite powdered caramel color in the world." The latter is suitable for meats, spice blends, TVP/HVP, cereals, baked goods and cocoa extenders. All the vendor's Class I or plain caramel colors are minimally processed. No ammonium or sulfite compounds are used in their manufacture, and 4-MeI is not formed during their production.

Mizkan is all about savory flavors, but it's pursuing a trend of alcoholic spirit-inspired flavors at present. Its tequila-poached crawfish sandwich certainly hit both themes. So did the bourbon maple, peach and arugula salad, bourbon-braised pork pozole and margarita shrimp aguachile. Company officials said bourbon flavor is a restaurant growth driver. Mizkan has developed a variety of denatured spirits and spirit reductions, including dark and light rums, French brandy, porter ale and Triple Sec. and, for years, it's owned the Angostura Bitters brand.

While it did offer a vegetable gumbo, Kikkoman USA played to its Asian-flavor strength, focusing on umami and sodium reduction. Its ubiquitous soy sauce "is a formulation multitasker," business manager Yusuke Hiraiwa noted. "It enhances flavor, cleans up labels and helps lower sodium." But the product line now encompasses many Asian sauces – including Thai style chili, Sriracha hot sauces and Hoisin -- as well as NFE (a natural flavor enhancer).

Scientists from TIC Gums spoke at a technical session “Gluten-free bread: Understanding the Science and Challenges behind the Replacement of Gluten and Flour.” They explained how simply replacing gluten-based ingredients with non-gluten alternatives typically yields a dense product with undesirable mouthfeel. Incorporating a gum blend helps combat gluten-free issues such as particulate awareness, rapid breakdown and lack of moisture. To that end, back in the booth, the company demonstrated Ticaloid GF313, a blend of xanthan and methylcellulose, in a gluten-free corn muffin.

Penford Food Ingredients, which now includes the business unit Gum Technology, used IFT to show off its newly combined ingredient capabilities. The company debuted a potato-based modified starch that replaces up to 50 percent of solid fat in baked goods, dairy-based desserts and spreads. This bland-tasting ingredient was demonstrated in low-fat, reduced-egg, gluten-free carrot cake pops. The pops also relied on the company’s egg replacement system, which was further demonstrated in vegan meringue that was indistinguishable from a traditional egg white meringue.

Grain Processing Corp. cooked up Cajun creations that showcased the functionality of GPC’s specialty food ingredients. Artisanal flatbreads with a Cajun twist made a fiber claim thanks to TruBran corn bran, a light brown fiber made from U.S. yellow dent corn. Inscosity instant modified starches were in bakery cakes demonstrating the ability to retain moisture and reduce shrinking.

Tate and Lyle was able to hide its Promitor soluble corn fiber in a roasted red pepper gazpacho, paired with a similarly spiked cornbread. Wash that down with a blood orange sangria "mocktail," sweetened with the company's Tasteva stevia-based sweetener. New were PromOat, a beta glucan-rich functional oat ingredient, and Proatein, a protein from oats. Both were developed by a European oat processor acquired by Tate and Lyle a year ago.

Beneo Inc. focused on prebiotic fibers, functional carbohydrates, blood sugar-management ingredients and gluten-free solutions. The company’s specialty rice ingredients were used in gluten-free baked goods. Not only are the rice ingredients a source of whole grain, they are GMO-free, hypoallergenic and rich in antioxidants and phytosterols. Their functional strengths in formulations help overcome the technical challenges of gluten-free bakery products, as they deliver improved textures, from crunchiness and crispness to softness and creaminess, or a fatty mouthfeel in gluten-free bakery fillings. They can also increase shelf-life and prevent moisture migration in baked goods.

ICL Food Specialties invited IFT attendees to experience the company’s broad range of functional ingredient systems in products such as a cool caramel macchiato. This was a chilled café au lait-type drink featuring 5 percent added protein and calcium, along with an extra creamy mouthfeel but with fewer calories than the traditional drink There was also a mac & cheese topped with Cajun bacon. The company’s specialty emulsifiers along with its sea salt allowed for a traditional creamy, smooth sauce with one-third less sodium as compared to standard mac & cheese.

Sensient Flavors inspired product developers with “unexpected twists,” its theme that encompasses consumer desire for more experiential pleasures. One of the unexpected twists was chocolate popcorn ice cream, which was packed with popcorn-infused chocolate flakes and buttered popcorn variegate for a sweet and salty combination. In keeping with the New Orleans theme, two shrimp dishes were served: shrimp with grits and shrimp tacos. They could be washed down with a variety of beverages, including flavored waters -- mango guasacaca or pineapple jalapeno -- made with the company’s new Hispanic-inspired flavor line.

ADM unveiled its new line of soy-based isolates for beverage applications. The soy proteins are designed to partially replace dairy proteins in low and neutral pH applications, resulting in a combined dairy and soy protein beverage with a clean flavor profile at lower cost and a more stable price. In keeping with the New Orleans theme, corporate chefs prepared hush puppies fried in ADM corn oil and made with the company’s cornmeal and white whole wheat flour. For dessert there were chocolate macaroons made with the company’s new reduced-fat cocoa powder and gourmet bittersweet chocolate.

Joint venture ADM Matsutani is moving toward identifying itself by its product name, Fibersol. Invented by Matsutani in Japan and produced at ADM’s Clinton, Iowa, facility since 1999, Fibersol-2 soluble dietary fiber has been shown to help support or maintain intestinal regularity. Added to the product line are Fibersol-2 AG (a digestion-resistant maltodextrin), Fibersol-LQ (soluble corn fiber in corn syrup) and Fibersol-HS (composed of Fibersol-2, honey solids and purified steviol glycosides).

IFT is overwhelmingly an ingredient show, but every year's expo has a significant contingent of suppliers of equipment and other services.

Assisting all those food scientists in the lab is a new rheometer from Brookfield Engineering. The RST touchscreen rheometers, paired with Rheo3000 V.2 software, make quick but comprehensive rheological measurements, whether it’s single point viscosity for QC or complete flow curve analysis for R&D. All the operator has to do is enter the shear stress or shear rate, temperature and test time requirements, and Rheo3000 V.2 completes the data collection and analysis work. Rheo3000 V.2 software can perform a wide variety of tests including: viscoelastic modulus, yield stress, viscosity vs. shear rate profile, thixotropy calculation, creep behavior, recovery after flow, and temperature sensitivity.

Buehler Aeroglide introduced the Ceres hygienic dryer, especially for ready-to-eat cereal products. It boats maximized efficiency, reduced cleaning times and energy efficiency. Design innovations came from suggestions from RTE cereal manufacturers.

The bottom-line benefits of product recovery was the theme at Mouvex and the Pump Solutions Group of Dover Co. Product recovery is the high utilization (or yield) of products or ingredients substantially eliminating waste - and thereby increasing profits - that would otherwise remain in suction or discharge process lines during changeovers or at the end of production runs. PSG's new pumps, including Mouvex eccentric disc pumps, can provide 80-90 percent product recovery rates in many food & beverage applications.

Kemin Industries revealed custom research that shows the majority of grocery shoppers read ingredient labels at least sometimes before making meat purchases, and they accept preservatives as necessary to keep ready-to-eat meat and poultry products safe from foodborne pathogens. Kemin's food safety platform, including BactoCease liquid buffered propionic acid, ensures the safety of meat and poultry products while addressing consumer concerns.

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