Company: Grüninger AG

Ingredient Snapshot: Grüninger AG, a Swiss producer of industrial and commercial margarines, has developed a new technology to produce palm-free, vegan and vegetarian margarines in which any off-note flavors are effectively taste masked. At the heart of the process is a natural rosemary extract-derived antioxidant that extends the products’ shelf-life and increases heat stability during baking. Employed to overcome common hurdles that arise when replacing solid palm fat with alternative oils, the neutralized fats are subsequently custom-flavored to match specific applications. In addition to stabilizing the flavor of margarines, as well as vegetable and animal oils and fats, a key benefit is an optimized mouthfeel.

Among both consumers and industry, healthy vegetable fats are currently in high demand. At the same time, the acceptability of products containing palm oil is declining. However, widespread palm alternatives such as rapeseed oil bring notable challenges, including intense organoleptic properties, high oxidation potential and individual processing requirements. Grüninger’s new process is of particular interest to bakery and confectionery manufacturers because it offers advantages from factory to fork.

First, any oxidation-labile fatty acids are stabilized during refining and crystallization with the help of a natural antioxidant. This both significantly extends the shelf-life of the end product and prevents the occurrence of heat-induced off-flavors that can arise during baking. By adding special masking flavors to the fat phase, any undesirable flavors are masked in a second step before the desired top note is integrated into the structure during the precisely controlled crystallization stage.

In addition to natural butter and vanilla notes, possible flavors include creamy-milky, fresh-sour and/or neutral-slightly sweet, as well as lightly roasted, nutty notes. The flavor matrix of each margarine or shortening/lard is customized for industrial customers and own brands, which Grüninger produces as well as private-label articles. It’s also possible to modify the taste of soft margarines, sandwich spreads and a wide range of special fats for industrial or commercial bakers.

The products flavored with the help of the new process reconcile consumer wishes with industry requirements: “Fat is one of the most important flavor carriers, which has a decisive influence on the market success of the end product,” says Michel Burla, managing director of Grüninger. “In addition to flavoring, we rely on cooling drum technology to optimize the plasticity of the products, which is especially important when dispensing with structure-giving solid palm fat.”

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