Toward the end of 2020, the USDA and HHS issued the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines include key recommendations to reduce trans fats and limit the intake of saturated fats to less than 10 percent of daily calories. It also suggests that as part of a healthy eating pattern to include the consumption of plant-based oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower.

With health and wellness being top of mind, choosing products with healthier fats is something consumers are looking for. Cargill, Minneapolis, shared key insights from their annual proprietary FATitudes survey stating that 53 percent of American consumers closely monitor fats and oils in packaged foods, a rate that has remained fairly consistent since the study began in 2013.

Fats and oils are a prevalent ingredient in bakery, snack and confectionary products. According to Innova Market Insights data, in 2019, the top categories of global new product launches that tracked with fats and oils were bakery (24 percent), snacks (14 percent), and confectionary (10 percent), with vegetable oil being the top fat and oil ingredient.

As with most food and beverage categories, clean label is something consumers are demanding. Michelle Peitz, technical solutions and marketing, oilseeds, ADM, Chicago, shared key insights from ADM Outside Voice proprietary research. The study found that 69 percent of consumers say that simple recognizable ingredients influence their purchasing decisions and 66 percent are looking for labels with the shortest ingredient list. She notes that soybean and canola oil are each derived from singular sources. and consumers are also attracted to specialty oils such as sunflower, coconut, and corn oil that are seen as close-to-nature products.


Doughnut recommendations

John Satumba, global bakery technical lead and regional R&D director for North America, global edible oil solutions, Cargill, notes that after frying oil can make up about 20 percent of the finished doughnut and contributes to the surface texture, color, glaze adherence, flavor, and overall visual appeal.

“Our portfolio includes Regal doughnut fry shortening, a palm blend formulated for a cleaner flavor and enhanced freeze/thaw stability,” says Satumba. “It offers excellent powdered sugar and glaze retention, minimal oil weeping, and imparts an appealing mouthfeel. For developers looking for a shortening with a faster set on the doughnut surface, our PalmAgility doughnut fry shortenings are a good choice. PalmAgility is a palm-based line of bakery shortenings that are more temperature tolerant, with greater plasticity for a broader working range. It offers reduced oil weeping over 24 hours compared to standard palm-based doughnut fry shortenings and other performance attributes that can contribute to overall visual appeal.”

For the best results, Stratas Foods, Memphis, suggests utilizing a frying shortening based on high-oleic oils for manufacturing doughnuts. “The chemistry of what defines a high-oleic oil provides the perfect frying medium to achieve balance between doughnut visual attributes and flavor. We recommend 100 percent high-oleic soybean oil or oils made from high-oleic sunflower and cottonseed oils. If a high-oleic oil is not available, a basic high-quality soybean oil would be the next choice,” states Daniels.

According to Dennis Strayer, consultant, United Soybean Board, Chesterfield, MO: “A doughnut shortening formulated from interesterified high-oleic and commodity soybean oil has been shown to produce finished yeast-raised and cake doughnuts that are similar in texture, interior grain, spread, height, and size as that of the now banned partially hydrogenated soybean oil that was the primary doughnut frying shortening oil for decades. This soybean based shortening provides excellent adhesion of glazes and icings to the doughnuts and delivers the appearance, texture, and mouthfeel expected by consumers.”

AAK USA, Newark, NJ, notes that shortenings serve as the cooking medium when frying doughnuts. The company offers Cisao 8315 and Cisao 8318 which are palm-based doughnut fry shortenings that provide excellent sensory and quality characteristics. “Cisao 8315 and Cisao 8318 are designed to minimize oiling out, improve adhesion of glazes and decorations, and extend doughnut shelf-life by reducing post-hardening—helping to keep fried doughnuts softer for longer. Palm based frying fats have excellent fry stability and are well suited for doughnut frying operations,” notes Andrea Weis, scientist II.


New options

Benexia, Santiago, Chile, has observed that traditionally fats and oils were used for flavor, texture, and mouthfeel, but in recent years, nutrition has become equally important. The 2020 IFIC Food and Health survey showed that approximately 40 percent of consumers were trying to limit or avoid saturated fats, and 32 percent were trying to consume more omega-3 fatty acids. The company recently launched Benexia ALA Powder, a micro-encapsulated chia oil rich in omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) fatty acid that can improve the nutritional profile of the finished product. Carolina Chica C., nutrition R&D and regulatory affairs, highlights its key features:

  • High levels of omega-3 ALA fatty acid
  • 100 percent plant-based and gluten-free
  • Naturally free from cholesterol and trans fatty acids
  • High solubility and low levels of fat oxidation
  • Contains polyphenols, tocopherols, and phytosterols that contribute to oxidative stability

The ingredient can be used in applications such as bakery premixes for pancakes, waffles, muffins, or bread.

“Benexia has successfully developed XIA PURE Ox Blocker technology that guarantees longer shelf life of the product, stable delivery of its nutraceutical properties, and maintenance of its good taste and smell. It is a system developed exclusively for chia oil. Chia oil is highly polyunsaturated and could have problems with oxidation. Our exclusive XIA PURE OX Blocker system allows chia oil to be highly stable to aggressive heat treatments such as frying. XIA PURE OX Blocker can be used in baked products in a blend with other fats and oils used in the formulation, to provide omega-3 fatty acids to the final product without affecting the organoleptic characteristics or the shelf life of the product,” states Chica.

EPG from Epogee, Indianapolis, is an alternative fat that enables companies to reduce the fat content in the snack and bakery products consumers love without impacting the product quality, functionality, or shelf life. EPG is a modified fat molecule that behaves like any other fat molecule in application. “EPG creates a much healthier product offering because it allows manufacturers to dramatically improve the nutritional profile of those very foods. EPG only delivers 0.7 calories/gram, while traditional fats deliver 9 calories/gram. This allows manufacturers to reduce their labelled calories (from fat), labeled grams of fat, and labeled grams of saturated fats by 92 percent for each unit of fat replaced. Best of all, EPG is currently being labeled as: ‘EPG (modified plant-based oil),’” explains Jayme Caruso, chief commercial officer.

EPG is very versatile and can be blended with any type of fat or oil regardless of type or source. The ingredient is neutral in color and flavor and tends to take on the characteristics of the fat or oil it is blended with. For example, EPG can be blended with palm kernel oil in a confectionary coating or can be used with butter to create a lower calorie croissant or laminated dough.

Stratas Foods has introduced Superb, which a line of baking shortening ingredients with reduced saturated fats that help address consumers nutritional needs. “Stratas’ latest breakthrough is to use less of the fat component to make a shortening. Specifically, Stratas uses a process of blending and mixing to solidify an oil and fat blend to make a uniform semi-solid product referred to as shortening. Stratas’ commercially available process advancement yields shortenings with a reduced fat component translating into a reduction in saturates,” explains Daniels.

Jamie Mavec, marketing manager, Cargill, shares one notable change from past FATitudes surveys: growing consumer interest in sustainability claims. “In 2020, 37 percent of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to purchase a packaged food product with a sustainability claim, a jump of 6 percent when compared to 2019 results for U.S. consumers,” she says. “At Cargill, we’ve taken those desires to heart, developing supply chains that can deliver on demand for greater sustainability. For example, Cargill offers RSPO—segregated palm oil, and for unparalleled transparency, our closed loop high oleic canola supply chain provides traceability from seed development to end product.”

AAK has launched a variety of new products under their AkoVeg brand. The products range from 100 percent coconut oil flakes to semi-solid blends of coconut and sunflower oil. “Depending on specific manufacturing temperatures, AAK’s AkoVeg 102-15 coconut oil flakes can be included into short pastry doughs, like pie crusts. Flakes are easy to scale during manufacturing and provide the dough with pieces of solid fat to help improve the flakiness, volume, and texture of the baked crusts. AAK’s 100 percent coconut oil flakes serve as a non-palm and non-hydro alternative to standard flaked shortenings. It is important to note that because these flakes are made of only coconut oil, they do require cooler than average distribution and manufacturing temperatures in order to retain their structure and function,” explains Weis.

For manufacturers that are looking to reduce the amount of saturated fat in coconut oil based bakery and snack products, AAK offers a variety of oils made from coconut and high oleic sunflower oils. For example, AkoVeg 107-12 contains 10 percent less saturated fat than coconut oil alone.

With health and wellness being top of mind with consumers, fats and oils will need to deliver healthier, sustainable, clean-label options while still creating an enjoyable sensory experience.