Real fruit ingredients align with snacking trends
In order to bring the characteristic flavor and nutrition of Welch’s Concord and Niagara grapes to snack and bakery applications, the company formed the Welch’s Global Ingredients Group in 2014, offering single-strength juices, concentrates, purées, powders and fruit bites. The latter ingredient segment features FruitWorx inclusions.
Welch’s Global Ingredients Group recently commissioned an online survey of 300 male and female American millennials who snack regularly. When respondents were asked which factors are important in guiding their choice of snack, the three most important were taste (80 percent), nutrition and health (52 percent) and convenience (49 percent). They also said they are looking for whole food ingredients, such as whole grains (43 percent), real fruit (42 percent) and nuts (39 percent). Besides valuing real fruit, American Millennials who snack also prefer to know the origin of the fruit in their snacks. In total, 68 percent of survey respondents said it was important for them to know where the ingredients in their snacks, including the fruit, had come from.
In order to learn more about this ingredient innovation and how using FruitWorx in snacks and baked goods can meet prevailing trends in snacking, we reached out to Wayne Lutomski, vice president international, Welch’s Global Ingredients Group.
Maxine Weber: Are there any fruits that you see as becoming increasingly more popular for snacks or bakery applications?
Wayne Lutomski: Superfruits are lodged firmly in the psyche of American consumers. They know them as fruits that deliver powerful plant nutrients and health benefits and, consequently, they are much in demand. But for snack and bakery product formulators, there’s a pretty big problem with many superfruits: They don’t taste that good. They’re often very bitter, for example, and successfully including them in recipes usually involves taking steps to mask their flavor, which might include adding sugars or artificial sweeteners, neither of which is desirable. So for the few superfruits that do taste great—and we would include the Concord and Niagara grapes among them—there is a big opportunity to capitalize on demand for superfruit ingredients that deliver both nutrition and great taste. For snack and bakery manufacturers, Welch’s Global Ingredients Group has developed FruitWorx inclusions—Concord and Niagara grape pieces that deliver natural plant nutrients called polyphenols in combination with an exceptional flavor profile. Concord and Niagara grapes are grown in North America and both are true American superfruits. For the last nearly 150 years, these two grape varieties were locked in a juice bottle. However, FruitWorx pieces have unlocked their great taste for use in the worlds of snacking and baking.
MW: Have any particular fruit become more popular for a functional reason such as providing color or sweetness? If so, can you elaborate?
WL: Most of all, American consumers now expect the fruit ingredients used in their snack and bakery products to be authentically delicious and nutritious. But the challenge when using real fruit in packaged bakery and snack applications is delivering an experience that’s close to the fresh fruit’s taste. Fresh fruit is rarely an option, for reasons related to shelf life and the risk of spoilage. FruitWorx pieces deliver both the authentic flavor and color characteristics of the freshly picked grapes from which they were made. This is achieved by using a unique technology called URC (Ultra Rapid Concentration), which was developed by our partners at Taura Natural Ingredients. First, we turn the fruit into a juice and a purée. URC then removes the water in these ingredients to create a 100 percent fruit inclusion with the color and taste of the original fruit.
MW: Can you comment on any new and interesting uses of fruit pieces, powders, concentrates or inclusions for snack or bakery applications, particularly bars, pastries, muffins, baked goods, trail mixes or other snacks?
WL: Innovation is key to keeping consumers engaged and loyal in the snacks and bakery category. They eat snacks and bakery products often, and product fatigue can set in after a time. Blending fruit with whole grains, ancient grains or seeds provides a real point of difference. The softness and sweetness of the fruit is the perfect companion to the crunchy, savory notes provided by these ingredients. You can simplify your production process by choosing fruit ingredients that come ready-blended with grains or seeds. That way you only need to dose a single ingredient and can be sure of the right flavor and texture balance each time. Welch’s FruitWorx products, in addition to having great taste and fruit nutrition, can also be made to deliver grains, seeds and even vegetables to the baked good experience.
MW: There is a concern about limiting added sugars. How does fruit in general factor into the added sugar of a product? Do you see that using fruit is a better alternative than other sources of sweetness?
WL: It’s important to understand that many health-conscious consumers differentiate between sugars naturally found in real fruit, and sugars added to products simply for sweetness. As such, real fruit ingredients, like Welch’s FruitWorx, present one way for product formulators to enhance the flavor of a snack or bakery product while reducing the need for adding sweeteners to a recipe.
MW: Are there any challenges when using a particular fruit into snack or baked good applications? How can these challenges be overcome?
WL: Real fruit has traditionally presented a significant technical challenge in the snack foods and bakery category. In dry products such as cookies and snack bars, for example, introducing any additional moisture to the recipe poses a threat to the texture and shelf life of the finished product. This means it’s important to choose fruit ingredients that will mitigate moisture transfer. Remember, though, it’s not the absolute moisture content of an ingredient that decides whether ingredients can be used successfully in dry applications. In fact, the crucial parameter is water activity, which is a measure of the ability of water to migrate from a fruit ingredient into the surrounding food matrix. It’s really important to ensure the water activity of any fruit ingredients you’re using has been tailored specifically for your application.
Using fresh fruit in cake and muffin applications, in which moistness is usually desirable, presents other challenges. Chief among these is the leaching of color into the body of the product during baking. Reduce this by using fruit ingredients that will retain color throughout your manufacturing processes. In addition, make sure that the fruit you use won’t be the cause of product spoilage by, once again, only selecting ingredients that exhibit the appropriate water activity for your formulation.
It’s also a good idea to specify fruit ingredients that won’t clump together. Make sure they are free-flowing and easy to dose, which will ensure excellent distribution throughout your product.
Welch’s Global Ingredients Group was featured on an episode of “Innovations with Ed Begley, Jr,” which provides more details on how Welch’s creates its FruitWorx ingredients. The company will also showcase its portfolio of Concord and Niagara grape products, including FruitWorx Concord Grape Juice Powder, made with a proprietary dehydration process that removes all the water from the juice while retaining its nutrition, flavor and color, at the forthcoming IFT17, taking place in Las Vegas, June 25–28.