Americans tend to talk the talk when it comes to eating healthy, but thanks to today’s new fiber-filled products, consumers can actually walk the walk.



Americans talk the talk when it comes to health and nutrition, but can they walk the talk? Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s managing editor, Marina Mayer, spoke with several experts to find out how fiber has transcended over the years from a may-need to a must-have ingredient, how certain R&D facilities are bulking up to meet these changes and why some Americans aren’t just cut out for fiber.


1. How are new product trends of fiber different now than they were five years ago? Please suggest some unique uses for fiber.


Bill Bonner, vice president of R&D and technical sales, 21st Century Grain Processing, Kansas City, Mo. --

The flavor and texture profiles are more compatible in consumer products. Cluster or piece-formed products can stand alone and be coated with fat-based compounds (chocolate, yogurt, etc.). These types of pieces are complimentary to many multi-component food systems. 


Mike Veal, vice president of marketing, ConAgra Mills, Omaha, Neb. --

As whole grains continue to become more popular, consumers are also becoming increasingly interested in their inherent fiber benefits. A number of recent product introductions exemplify how fiber from whole grains can be delivered in new and interesting ways…. For baked goods, we’re seeing fiber from whole grains added to cookies and snacks, giving indulgent items a better-for-you halo.


Brock Lundberg, vice president of technology, Fiberstar, Inc., Willmar, Minn. --

Today’s trends are to improve health and nutrition while making a great tasting finished product. Making products that are more nutritious has been a trend for a very long time.  However, today manufacturers are looking to make great tasting products that are not only nutritious but also are innovative in their approach to satisfy a particular customer need. 

For instance, an example of an innovative product could be making a reduced calorie healthy product that tastes great and also has a satiety affect for the customer that relieves hunger for a certain period of time. Although taste is still the priority in order for consumers to purchase a product, being able to deliver a great tasting healthier product to the consumer than just reduced fat is where we feel the trends are in the marketplace. 


Stephanie Lynch, global market manager, food and nutrition, Dow Wolff Cellulosics based in Bomlitz, Germany --

Well I think the trend for fiber is still very strong. Fiber is well recognized as something that’s healthy and that we don’t get enough of it in our diets, so people look for fiber in foods.

I expect the trend will continue and that one of the challenges of fiber is really the formulating with fibers because many of them do change the taste and texture, which is part of some of these fibers. And when they don’t have any of the trying effect or coarse effect in foods when we can still enjoy the croissant and not know the fiber is in there, I think this will certainly be a big win for fiber.



2. Please provide a background on your R&D process. How does your R&D center work with bakers to produce high-fiber based products?

Bill Bonner, vice president of R&D and technical sales, 21st Century Grain Processing, Kansas City, Mo. --

Our R&D format is to custom develop ingredients based on the three sensory attributes: taste, appearance and texture, nutritional labeling target and/or ingredient label build.    We work directly with bakers and product developers to design an ingredient in baked goods as an inclusion or topical in all baked goods categories. We encourage dialogue that allows the bakers to think ahead of current projects with an open mind. We often challenge with the question, “If you could have anything, what would it be?” It gets both parties engaged in open discussion.


Mike Veal, vice president of marketing, ConAgra Mills, Omaha, Neb. --

The experts at our research, quality and innovation center work closely with customers to ensure that our ingredients meet the needs of our customer and the end user. Our scientist works hand-in-hand with customers to modify formulas for existing products and develop new concepts. Additionally, our research and quality experts help customers optimize their label claims.


Brock Lundberg, vice president of technology, Fiberstar, Inc., Willmar, Minn. --

We work with bakers by testing to make sure the benefits of our product match the benefits bakers are looking for and making this exchange of information as easy and seamless as possible. Frequently, customers come to us and ask whether we can replace up to a certain amount of fat in a particular formula or how much yield improvement can be obtained with an existing or new product.   


Judy Turner, U.S. food applications manager, Tate & Lyle, Decatur, Ill. --

Here are a few ways we provide increased customer service to food manufacturers:
·    Global technical service experts assess the bakery manufacturer’s goals, makes ingredient blending recommendations and supplies formulas and samples of the fibers.
·    Leads seminars with bakery manufacturers to provide additional insight about consumer research, nutritional study results, basic functionality in food systems and prototype bakery products demonstrating the use of these fibers in high quality finished goods.
·    Work as a partner with our customer’s product development team to formulate baked products specifically for them based on their criteria and our expertise in ingredient functionality. This team approach is faster, more efficient and utilizes the strengths of each company to anticipate processing, scale-up and shelf life of the new product.

Stephanie Lynch, global market manager, food and nutrition, Dow Wolff Cellulosics based in Bomlitz, Germany --

We have food formulators in our lab and we have commercial bakery equipment, especially in our New Jersey lab in the U.S., very commercial bakery equipment. And we can simulate a lot of the bakery products ourselves. Plus, we work very closely with the customers who provide us with formulations. We’ll go to the customer’s site and actually make the emulsions there on site with their equipment but with our R&D. So we do try to collaborate quite a bit together just so that our R&D is very involved with helping our customers with their success. We recognize that making sure the product is used and formulated successfully is key to having the customer see the benefits.




Editor’s Note: To read the complete version of this article, check out our March issue.

Photo courtesy of Tate & Lyle