Food Prototypes That Deserve Shelf Space

July 21, 2009
Many samples created just for the IFT Show could be supermarket or foodservice stars.

A tough economy didn’t prevent ingredient suppliers from coming up with some great prototypes at the 2009 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo, held June 6-9 in Anaheim, Calif. These products taste so good they should be in the supermarket with very little tweaking. This year we found 20 innovative options. Our apologies to those we missed because of limited time to wander. 

Date & Almond Breakfast Bar

I couldn’t keep my hands off the Triple Chocolate Brownie in the booth of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Decatur, Ill. It combined the company’s Ambrosia chocolate chunks and DeZaan cocoa powder topped with chocolate fudge icing for true indulgence. But it was the Date & Almond Breakfast Bar that knocked my socks off. It contained VegeFull Cooked Navy Bean Powder, VegProlite wheat protein isolate to increase vegetable protein and NovaLipid soybean oil. I could definitely get hooked on these. ADM also prototyped Sweet ‘n’ Crunchy Sesame Mix, a sweet and salty snack, featuring Sweet ‘n’ Neat dry honey powder, 70 percent honey that is converted to a free-flowing powder through a patented drying process, and delivers the same flavor, color and sweetness in products where process or product constraints prevent the use of liquid honey.

Cargill Inc., Wayzata, Minn., had a whopping eight food and beverage prototypes to demonstrate how technical and flavoring challenges associated with formulating new products can deliver distinct consumer benefits (heart health, energy, sweetness). I particularly liked Light Blueberry Yogurt, which combined all three benefits. Sweetened with Truvia rebiana, Cargill’s zero-calorie stevia leaf sweetener, the yogurt provides a health halo effect from the antioxidant-rich blueberries. One serving (170g) contains 14g of sugar compared to 30g for a typical sugar low-fat yogurt. Also healthy and scrumptious were the Cherry Walnut Clusters with CoroWise. They combine ripe cherry, sweet, creamy vanilla flavors, and CoroWise plant sterol esters, clinically shown to lower LDL cholesterol and backed by an FDA health claim.

I’m always looking for products that curb satiety, and found a great one at Parsippany, N.J.-based DSM’s booth. The Blueberry Vanilla Crave Control Bar contains 6g of Fabuless DE powder, a natural ingredient clinically proven to create satiety and reduce calorie intake throughout the day. Before it had a chance to work, I scarfed down a Peanut Butter Dream Bar, which contains 1,000g of Tensvida milk protein peptide to help maintain healthy blood pressure. One bar per day can show results in as little as two weeks.

Mushroom Alfredo Sauce

According to Packaged Facts, gluten-free product sales have grown at an average annual rate of 28 percent since 2004, and reached $1.56 billion in 2008, due to increased diagnoses of celiac disease and larger numbers of people going gluten-free for perceived health benefits. But gluten-free in the bakery sector certainly has its challenges – particularly texture and shelf life. Bridgewater, N.J.-based National Starch Food Innovation’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a longer shelf-life) were smooth, moist and chewy – with no hint of grittiness and crumbliness. National Starch’s culinologist Agnes Jones also served up two delectable Alfredo sauces made with Precisa Cream 50 to demonstrate how a dramatically fat-reduced sauce can still have appealing taste and texture. The  was served over tricolor tortellini, and the chipotle manchego sauce was paired with black bean goat cheese ravioli.

Chef John Csukor, culinary expert for the Almond Board of California, Modesto, Calif., created a delectable California Almond Crab Salad, which resulted in long lines during the show. A classic northeastern Thai salad presented as a snacking lettuce wrap enlivened with California almonds -- it would delight any restaurant patron or could be a great option for a frozen food product. For dessert, Almond Kulfi, an ice cream-like Indian dessert with slivers of California almonds and saffron threads, gave attendees a new taste experience and idea for a healthy and unique product.

It was love at first bite for the Gluten Free Canape, Chicken Walnut Salad made with 71 percent whole/multigrain, gluten free bread from ConAgra Mills, Omaha, Neb. Featured was ConAgra’s Gluten Free All-Purpose Multigrain flour. And for the latest in on-trend ethnic cuisines, Chapati Bread, made with ConAgra’s Mumbai Gold Fresh Chakki Atta, Chicken Tikka Masala and Sustagrain Flour, made us feel we were dining in India, at least for a few treasured minutes. 

California Almond Crab Salad

P.L. Thomas, Morristown, N.J., transported attendees to Asia with a menu that included Traditional Sushi Rolls – surimi with Tomat-O-Red natural red color with lycopene, wrapped with Kombucha seasoned rice and sweetened with stevia; High Energy Drizzles – and wasabi drizzled with kombucha, lavender, Rhodiola Rosea, carrageenan and soy sauce. Mixed greens with a sensational Antioxidant Dressing (pomegranate, acai, camu camu, rosemary Inolens, and kombucha) caught my interest. What a great idea for a value-added salad dressing. And for dessert, what could be better than a rich 100 percent organic San Francisco Irish Shortbread from Golden Gate Confections, complete with antioxidants.
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Virginia Dare’s Pastry Chef Victor Dell’Aquila showcased delicious Black Currant Type Flavored Scones and trendy Mandarin Orange Flavored scones with a rich buttery texture and true-to-fruit taste. They were a perfect complement to the refreshing flavored tea lattes, floral flavored iced teas and tea-based smoothies at the booth made from tea leaves sourced from around the world -- black, Darjeeling, green, herbal, lemon, mint, jasmine, white, and oolong teas in liquid and dry forms.

Frutarom USA, North Bergen, N.J., along with Flavor Specialties Inc. (FSI), focused on enhanced beverages with natural flavors and botanical extracts with an extended shelf life. Using organic flavors and sweetened with stevia, No-Crash energy shots benefited from a pomegranate-açai blend. But my favorite was a Beauty Drink containing Collactive, a natural, anti-wrinkle ingredient perfect for a beauty from within beverage concept. 

Beauty Drink containing Collactive

It was great to give my wild side free reign at the booth of Wild Flavors Inc., Erlanger, Ky. I sampled an appetite-suppressing, dark berry tea Satiety Sucker, containing 2g fiber, 33mg green tea catechins (3mg EGCG) and 100mg chromium. Not being able to pass up a cookie, my option was a good one -- Heart Healthy Cookies, which contain Vegapure phytosterols as well as green tea catechins for a healthy heart, and Wild’s Cocoa Almond Flavor for taste. Now that my heart was healthier, it was time for brain health. Clarity Caramels, which feature a light lemon mint flavor and ginko biloba, choline, phosphatidyl serine and L-Turosine, helped boost my mental acuity. So why can’t I buy them in the supermarket?

A recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Americans get about 21 percent of their daily calorie intake from snack foods and beverages. Fruity, crunchy and satisfying whey-fortified Yogurt Bark from Hilmar, Calif.-based Hilmar Ingredients makes unique use of whey protein – in crisps and in a fortified yogurt confection-base, which delivers 11g of high quality protein in a 44g serving. To expand its healthy body benefits, the bark uses real fruit, provides more calcium and vitamin D than a glass of milk and is a good source of antioxidants including vitamins A and E.

U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif., presented standing-room-only tastings of fabulous Blueberry Whoopie pie, a sandwich-type pastry of two blueberry-studded cookies filled with a luscious, blueberry-studded fluffy center. A range of blueberry formats can be used for the cookies, including fresh, frozen, dehydrated, canned and liquid, so product designers can choose the most convenient for them. Waiting in line, one could read a handout about the history and background of the now-trendy , originating in the Amish country of Pennsylvania and New England. Pure edible nostalgia, Whoopie pie has been invading everything from the food page of the New York Times to the local cupcake shop looking for a variation on its themes.

Beverage prototypes from Blue Pacific Flavors, City of Industry, Calif., showcased new flavors based on its hortRealfruit technology platform. These yummy prototypes included a vitamin C drink containing New Zealand Lemon Zest C-200, a blueberry yogurt drink featuring a new blueberry varietal, and a beverage made with new Karaka Black, a varietal similar to a blackberry. 

Whoopie Pie

Friesland Foods Domo USA, Chicago, demonstrated applications using GRAS-certified Vivinal GOS – a dairy-derived prebiotic ingredient, which can be used in infant formulas, beverages, bars and snacks. Prebiotic Orange Juice, enhanced with Vivinal GOS, benefits both adults and children by regulating digestive health, improving calcium absorption and stimulating immunity function. Heat- and acid-stable, Vivinal GOS is suited for use in acidic and fruit-based systems (no clouding), and the ingredient statement reads orange juice and galacto-oligasachharides from milk.

Suitable for a variety of applications, Kikkoman Sales U.S.A., San Francisco, demonstrated three exotic curry sauces: Tikka Masala Curry Sauce (a mild blend of tomatoes and authentic Indian spices); Thai Red Curry Sauce (kaffir lime leaves, garlic, and lemongrass, Thai red chilies and coconut milk); and Thai Yellow Curry Sauce (garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, coriander, and authentic Thai chilies).

Judson McLester, corporate chef for Wixon Inc., St. Francis, Wis., designed a number of ethnic-inspired brunch items, including scrambled eggs made with Fiesta jalapeno seasoning, crunchy pine nuts, black beans and red jalapeño peppers. Crumbled chicken chorizo sausage was made with Wix-Fresh, a flavor modifier that improves meat products’ natural color and flavor. The dish was prepared with KCLean Salt, Wixon’s all-natural salt substitute that delivers all the properties of regular table salt with half the sodium. KCLean Salt also was used to season Wixon’s Southwest Breakfast and Turkey Maple breakfast sausage links, reducing sodium content by 25 percent while matching salt’s taste, texture and functionality.
PureCircle, Florham Park, N.J., almost ran out of Cranberry Almond Cereal Bars, fruit and nut cereal bars featuring reb-A, which reduces the added sugar by 75 percent. The bars contained rolled oats, almonds, cranberry and, best of all, only 120 calories.

Nutricosmetic Licorice, a sweet sensation that works from the inside out to help you look your best, from Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y., contains collagen, vitamin E, aloe vera, CoQ10, inulin and lycopene. Also at Fortitech’s booth was a tasty, indulgent, yet functional prototype -- Immunity Boosting Ice Cream, fortified with vitamins A, E, C, B1, B2 and B6, as well as biotin, folic acid, selenium, zinc, CoQ10 and lycopene.

Soup & Salad Savory Side Bars, featuring caramelized onion, garlic butter herb or black pepper parmesan flavors, were the neat prototype from David Michael & Co., Philadelphia. Similar to biscotti, Side Bars are designed to crumble with only a slight amount of effort and remain dry and crisp in texture. They redefine the normally sweet biscotti into a savory option creating a new market for them.

In these tough economic times, consumers crave comfort foods, and Rosemont, Ill.-based Dairy Management Inc.’s Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese takes comfort food to a new level. Made with 50 percent reduced-fat pepper jack cheese, this delicious entrée trims the fat without sacrificing flavor or performance. Since walking the floor is akin to a workout, I revived with Razz-A-Tan Frozen Fitness Smoothie. Formulated for women, it provides carbohydrates to refuel muscles and whey protein to help muscle repair and recovery.

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