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Innovation and Taste Going Strong at 2008 IFT Expo

July 31, 2008
The heat and humidity of the Big Easy could not wilt the innovation of the annual food technology show.
Attendance was down to 15,000 (from 23,296 in 2007), but many members expressed great emotional attachment to New Orleans at this IFT Show.

The Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting & Food Expo returned to New Orleans June 29-July 2 for the first time since beating Hurricane Katrina by just a month in 2005.

Beauty from within, healthy bones and healthy hearts were the primary messages we heard at a quieter IFT Food Expo this year. Omega-3 fortification, fiber fortification and antioxidants in superfruits were at the forefront again. The conversation was about escalating prices of both ingredients and food and how it will become more difficult to innovate in a slowing economy.

In addition to the usual IFT programming surrounding the show, there were three charitable events planned to help the struggling city and its citizens. Kerry Ingredients planned to put show-going volunteers to work Saturday before the expo started in New Orleans neighborhoods that still need work rebuilding, but that event was canceled. A spokesperson said apparently not enough people were arriving in the Crescent City early enough to take part. Instead, Kerry made a monetary contribution to the organization involved: Beacon of Hope.

ABF Ingredients and its subsidiary companies – AB Enzymes, Abitec, Ohly, PGP International and Protient – held a dinner cruise on the Creole Queen riverboat. A silent auction and raffle raised $12,000 split between Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, a New Orleans home-building charity, and Cecily’s Fund, which helps educate Zambia’s children orphaned by AIDS.

The IFT association had its own program the day before and the day after the show. Volunteers worked with America’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana to sort, repack and deliver surplus and donated food to needy residents.

IFT officials termed the show a success, despite attendance of just over 15,000 (down from the 2007 Chicago show’s crowd of 23,296, the second biggest IFT Show ever) and 951 exhibiting companies. Chicago, which is the venue every third year, always draws heavier crowds than New Orleans, Orlando, Fla., or Anaheim, Calif., which also regularly host the show.

Technical sessions included: organic and natural certifications, food safety, essential fatty acids, newer sources of fiber, consumer research, the safety of imported foods and ingredients and functional foods (reports on all those subjects are available on the IFT web site).

The two days preceding the food expo, IFT held its International Food Nanoscience Conference. This emerging field has great potential to influence all stages of the food supply chain. Scientists and other experts discussed current research, the ethical and societal implications and examples of nanotechnology already in use.

All the right ingredients

Putting aside the association meetings, technical conferences and after-hours activities, the core of the annual event is the Food Expo, at which many of those 951 exhibiting companies introduce new products, with heavy emphasis on the ingredient side of the house.

Leavening agent Levona (now renamed Levona Opus) was introduced to the ICL Performance Products portfolio in 2006. At this year’s show, Levona Brio debuted. Although primarily a leavening agent, its replacement of sodium acid pyrophosphate with calcium pyrophosphate helps food processors reformulate products with “low sodium” and “good source of calcium” claims.

When InterHealth Nutraceuticals Inc. started coming to the IFT shows, nutraceutical ingredients were eyed with skepticism by some consumers, according to Jay Martin, director of marketing. “Now that those kinds of ingredients are showing up in Coke and Pepsi products, consumer acceptance is growing, and that only opens the door for more,” he said. InterHealth is seeing more applications of its two key products. SuperCitrimax, an extract of the fruit Garcinia cambogia, helps curb appetite and reduce caloric intake. ChromeMate, a patented form of biologically active chromium nicotinate, helps insulin metabolize fat, turn protein into muscle and convert sugar into energy. Chromium-activated insulin increases the amount of blood sugar available for energy production nearly twenty-fold.

Still flying the “Texture changes everything” banner, National Starch Food Innovation showed textural differences — from a delicate crunch to a crispy snap — in baked potato chips and crackers. The different texture profiles are the result of its starches and other ingredients, as well as research and development at its new (opened in June) Texture Center of Excellence. As for brand-new-for-the-show ingredients, National Starch debuted its first natural/organic emulsifier, Q-Naturale, suitable for sparkling and still beverages, waters and juices. It was developed with supplier Desert King from quillaja, an organic, sustainable crop. Officials say it should be more price- and supply-stable than gum Arabic.

Also opening a Texture Innovation Center — just the week before the show — was TIC Gums, near its Belcamp, Md., headquarters (more on that in our upcoming September feature on texture). At the show, TIC’s focus was on Pretested Saladizer Max, an emulsifier that can replace more expensive propylene glycol alginate in dressings, marinades and many applications without any discernible difference in mouthfeel.

With a new corporate chef in the kitchen, Kraft Food Ingredients’ booth was lively.

Kraft Food Ingredients unveiled Savory Edge, a beef enhancer that delivers juicy meat, even rare notes in any beef application. It’s an allergen-free, natural flavor built on a multi-phase reaction process of oil, water, air and other “enablers.” The addition to KFIC’s Flavors of Cooking line also can offset warmed-over and “livery-grassy” notes in lower grades of beef.

Just in time for the show, Tate & Lyle added soluble corn fiber to its Promitor branded dietary fiber line. The new version was featured in numerous applications: a fruit shot, a smoked chipotle hummus and even soft-serve ice cream. Promitor’s original resistant starch was the base for a black bean chip. Several items were sweetened with the company’s groundbreaking Splenda brand of sucralose.

Since sucralose is no longer protected by a patent, a number of other suppliers also offered it in their booths, including: Niutang Chemical, a Chinese company with U.S. base in Brea, Calif., and two suppliers in the Chinese pavilion.

LDL (bad) cholesterol is a major risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Specialty Products’ Eterna tasteless, odorless omega-3 fish oil is rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and its high oxidative stability leads to a longer shelf live. Successful applications include whole wheat bread, oatmeal raisin cookies and bars, yogurt, retorted products and drinks.

There was a significant China pavilion at this year’s show, as there has been for several years. The representative from the Sub-Council of Light Industry said there is no anxiety over Chinese ingredients.

Speaking of omega-3s, Farbest Brands, Montvale, N.J., and BioGin Biochemicals of Chengdu, China formed an alliance to market BioGin’s range of omega-3 fatty acid products. Made from blends of fish and flax seed oil, the products are available in both oil forms and encapsulated powders, in North America. In its booth, Farbest showed non-GMO pea protein, which is easily digested and suitable for protein-enriched products from infant formulas to sports nutrition. A meal in itself, Farbest’s Pecan Praline Nutrition Bar featured FarMax 785 Pea Protein Isolate, 290 Calcium Caseinate, Nutrition Bar Vitamin & Mineral Premix, Xylitol and Polydextrose.

To offset escalating ingredient costs, St. Louis-based Solae Co. markets Supro Max structured proteins, which can be combined with lower-cost meat and poultry to enhance the taste of new products. Solae proved it with Mini Barbecue Vegetarian Beef Sandwiches in a tangy BBQ sauce on a mini roll.

Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., Chilton, Wis., passed out delicious Organic Tapioca Caramels, formulated with BriesSweet Tapioca Syrup as a 1:1 substitute for corn syrup. They contain organic sugar, organic cream and organic vanilla. The natural sweetener is available in conventional form as well.

Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine, Iowa, showcased a baked snack made with TrueBran corn bran and made from 100 percent yellow corn, which enhances the fiber in snacks, cereals, baked goods, nutrition bars and other fiber-fortified foods.

The Itasca, Ill.-based ADM/Matsutani Fibersol-2 team brought some of this year’s popular retail products to IFT to showcase its ingredients, including Soyjoy nutrition bars and Welch’s 100% Grape Juice with Fiber. Both contain Fibersol-2, a soluble dietary fiber made from ground whole soybeans, which is readily dispersible and tasteless. Suitable for beverages, including sports drinks and fortified waters, processed foods, baked goods, dairy products, dietetic foods, fiber supplements, and functional foods, Fibersol-2 has impressive characteristics, including acid and heat stability, low viscosity, clear solution, high solubility, easily digestible for any age and it’s a prebiotic.

GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., made it simple for attendees walking around all day to keep their bones strong and digestive systems in shape with Bone Health Chocolate Syrup. The syrup is enriched with Aquamin calcified mineral source and NutraFlora prebiotic fiber, which supports bone, digestive and immune health, and Digestive Health Caramel Syrup enriched with NutraFlora prebiotic fiber and BioAgave agave active fiber.

Osteoporosis affects 75 million people in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Leon Schurgers, senior researcher at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, was at the booth of Morristown, N.J.-based PL Thomas to explain the latest research on the benefits of vitamin K-2 as Menaquinone-7, essential for good bone and cardiovascular health. Most children and adults are vitamin K (which stands for “koagulation’) deficient, as Western diets only provide enough for coagulation. Thus substantial fractions of the K-dependent protein osteocalcin, which utilizes calcium in the bone, and Maxtrix GLA-protein, an inhibitor of vascular calcification, are not activated. This is especially true for children, who have high levels of inactive osteocalcin — the protein necessary for bone growth. Without enough K vitamins, calcium settles in the arteries where it cannot be utilized in the bone tissue.

ConAgra Food Ingredients, Omaha, Neb., provided a line of next-generation whole-grain ingredients to improve nutritional profiles. They include: ConAgra Mills Ancient Grains (whole grain); ConAgra Mills Multigrain Flours (multigrain whole grains); ConAgra Mills Coarse 8-Grain and Seed Inclusion with Flax; and ConAgra Mills Flour with Ancient Grains (55 percent multigrain whole grains and 45 percent premium enriched white flour). Ancient Grains flours are milled from amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff, and they contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals than regular flour.

Cargill’s booth was as big as its ingredients portfolio. Food and beverage prototypes on display included gluten-free cupcakes, a kid-friendly breakfast cookie with enhanced nutrition and reduced sodium salsa, all highlighting different capabilities of the company. Barliv barley betafiber was worked unnoticeably into a juice beverage; a probiotic juice smoothie was laced with inulin; a low-calorie tea was fortified with 4g protein; and low-fat milk contained CoroWise plant sterols.

Refreshing and light with a hint of ginger, lemongrass has been the flavor du jour this year. Vegetable Juices Inc. developed a special cutting process which creates a whole puree that melts in your mouth. Three types are available — frozen with no preservatives, refrigerated with citric acid, vinegar and salt for salad dressings and soft-frozen for ice cream.

Redmond, Wash.-based Univar USA created the Rouge Refresher, water with a twist. With one twist, it becomes a sugar-free red tea drink with natural pomegranate flavor, and it’s fortified with vitamin C and a highly soluble form of calcium.

Spokane, Wash.-based Commercial Creamery, which celebrated its 100th anniversary, debuted a shelf-stable line of flavored Chunkettes and Crumbettes cheeses. They are available in Cheddar Jalapeno, Italian, Feta Cheese and Cheddar (nice idea for salad or entrée toppers).

The expo is not entirely about ingredients. There is a growing representation of equipment companies, with the emphasis on laboratory and analytical applications.

Ometric Corp., Columbia, S.C., uses spectroscopy technology from the University of South Carolina to measure fat, protein, moisture, sugar, alcohol content and other nutrients in food — in-line and in real time, not off-line in samples. With its attendant software, the result is the potential for realtime process control.

We loved the Beer Ice Cream at the Racine, Wis.-based Butter Buds Food Ingredients booth. Made with dried Beer Extract, the ice cream really tasted like liquid beer.

David Michael & Co., Philadelphia, kept attendees coming back for more Double Bourbon and Cola, featuring Bourbon vanilla ice cream with a twist of Bourbon whisky and cola-flavored ice water.

City of Industry, Cal.-based Blue Pacific Flavors & Fragrances, in association with HortResearch served up HortRealFruit Golden Kiwi Granita Beverage, Jazz Apple Granita Beverage, Mangosteen Dragon Fruit Juice Drink and Pink Grapefruit with White Tea.

Louisville, Ky.-based D.D. Williamson developed a new naturally derived blue colorant. Available in either liquid or powder form, it enables food developers to obtain a shelf-stable natural blue hue at a lower pH than conventional anthocyanin colorants. Attendees had an opportunity to try hard candies containing annatto extract, turmeric and red cabbage colorants.

Always innovative Tabasco Brands/McIlhenny Co., Avery Island, La., served up the coolest Tabasco Spiked Carrot Cake Ice Cream.

Symrise in April acquired Chr. Hansen’s Flavors and Seasonings Division, a leading supplier to the dairy, meat and snack industries. Integration should be completed in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to Blake Anderson, president of Symrise’s Flavor Division North America, Teterboro, N.J. 

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