Today’s global economic downturn and raw material price increases are creating a number of challenges for all sectors of the food and beverage industry.
By Darrin Peterson
Today’s global economic downturn and raw material price increases are creating a number of challenges for all sectors of the food and beverage industry. In addition, consumers are shifting away from premium foods in a return to the basics, even as they expect food products to deliver on taste, mouthfeel quality, visual appeal, safety and convenience.
The good news is that with texturizing formulations, food manufacturers can beat the downturn and deliver on these quality attributes while keeping a tight handle on costs. By working in close partnership with their ingredient supplier, manufacturers can find cost-competitive and innovative solutions that will help them manage through these difficult times.
Some of these solutions might be single ingredients, such as the replacement of egg with soy, or complete functional systems based on specific combination of hydrocolloids and other texturizing ingredients. This broad-based approach makes sense, particularly when internal resources are stretched and less time is available for market scanning and innovation.
Combining Ingredients for Tailor-Made Innovation
When it comes to the choice of functionality, two areas are critical for manufacturers – breadth of choice of ingredient options available and reliability of sourcing.
For this reason, it is important for manufacturers to work with an ingredient supplier that constantly monitors raw material quality and availability including harvest conditions and other relevant supply factors, on a global basis. This will enable the supplier to anticipate any shortfalls in ingredient supply or quality, develop solutions that compensate for these factors and offer a genuinely viable alternative.
An added opportunity comes when processors work with a supplier that offers a broad portfolio of texturizing ingredients, ranging from single ingredients such as xanthan gum, pectins, carrageenans, alginates, locust bean gum, soy flours, starches, lecithins, cultures and enzymes, to multi-component functional systems. With such a palette of ingredients and expertise on tap, innovative, tailor-made solutions are easily accessible and are unconstrained by issues of raw materials supply or availability of processing facilities.
Gaining widespread appeal in meeting the challenge of reformulation are functional systems - combinations of at least two ingredients that deliver performance distinct from that achievable by their separate use. The basic ingredients used in these ready-blended formulations include polysaccharides such as carrageenans, pectins, alginates, xanthan gum, locust bean gum and guar gum. Other raw materials such as starches, soy proteins, dairy proteins, gelatin and emulsifiers may also be added to meet specific requirements.
The Advantages of Functional Reformulation
A major advantage of reformulation with a functional system is that it can help to reduce both development and processing overheads for manufacturers seeking creative and reliable ingredient solutions.
The optimized combination of ingredients in a functional system offers convenient consistency in food processing. There is no need to keep re-blending single ingredients and running the risk of a change in formulation through miscalculation or issues with the raw ingredients. In addition, a functional system can be more cost-effective than buying the separate ingredients and having the blending expertise in-house.
Managing a high number of ingredients also can be immensely time-consuming for food processors, considering contacts with suppliers, quality and regulatory requirements, supply chain issues and complexity in production plants. In providing a functional system, however, an ingredient supplier’s team of regulatory, food law and quality experts can often take on the regulatory legwork for the whole product, rather than the customer having to do it from scratch for a number of different ingredients.
Sometimes it is more beneficial to process several ingredients together in order to optimize their properties and use. These benefits result from interactions that may occur during processing or in the end product. This is particularly the case with co-processed or integrated products. For example, the integration of hydrocolloids and emulsifiers allows the use of both ingredients at the same time and gives the ability to handle products that are not in the same state (e.g. solids and liquids).
Taking the Single Approach
Functional systems are not the only solution to reformulation strategies. Many single ingredients also are available to help reduce costs and contribute to other benefits. For example, for decades, confectioners have used gelatin, a popular gelling texturizer. However, gelatin cost fluctuations and religious and ethnic limitations have caused manufacturers to seek out alternatives such as modified starches, maltodextrins and carrageenans. These alternatives not only offer a substitute for the traditional properties of gelatin in jelly confectionery, but also provide new textures and meet Halal, Kosher and vegetarian diet limitations as well as clean-label accreditations.
A single ingredient such as soy also is a competitive reformulation solution as it brings health benefits to the protein-replacement market. For instance, a wholesome soy flour product consisting (in dry form) of 40% protein, 20% cholesterol-free soy lipids and rich in poly-unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid), lecithin, vitamin E and sterols can help manufacturers create healthy foods by replacing up to 50% of eggs in the formulation.
Other benefits of single ingredients include having a direct impact on a product’s nutritional value, being more suitable for new processing equipment, and helping with overall streamlining of ingredients.
Reformulating for Success
In the end, whether through functional systems or single ingredients, reformulation offers food manufacturers the opportunity to stand back, reassess a product and consider if it truly delivers. By working with an ingredient supplier that offers reliable ingredient sourcing, a wide range of product offerings and an expertise in ingredient applications, manufacturers can enjoy the benefit of reformulation solutions that meet the critical challenge of combining high-quality products with real cost savings.
Darrin Peterson is the dairy category marketing manager and the functional systems product line manager for Cargill Texturizing Solutions, North America. For more information,
Beat the Downturn with Texturizing Reformulations
December 15, 2009