Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ingredient Technology Trends from IFT for Dairy Product Formulators

(Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council)

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) reports that more than 23,500 food science and technology professionals gathered at McCormick Place in Chicago this past week. I was on that expo floor all three days—from open to close—and that still was not enough time to explore all the innovations on display.

In my 23 years of being a food science professional (three as a scientist at Kraft and 20 as an ingredient technology trends tracker and writer), I believe I have only missed three IFT Annual Meetings + Food Expos. This was one not to miss! 

Honestly, this was an amazing IFT. Though dairy is my number-one passion, I am fascinated by everything food science. At this expo, I was walking and talking to suppliers and fellow food scientists wearing my Sosland Publishing hat, collecting information for all the publications, and this means information on all food and beverage product development. (I was in heaven!) I have never seen as much innovation in one show as I did this year. Congrats to the exhibitors and the Institute of Food Technologists for a show well done!

When it comes to formulating dairy products, these are the five ingredient innovation trends that were prominent on the expo floor. Expect to see blogs dedicated to these topics in upcoming months, as well as articles in Food Business News. I will share the links.

1.    Protein, most notably whey in its various forms, along with established (soy) and emerging vegetarian sources (pea, rice, etc.), are being used for nutritional enhancement as well as clean-label emulsifying and stabilizing. Blenders are working with formulators to develop single-system proprietary blends.

2.    Natural colors were the buzz when it comes to adding eye appeal to dairy foods. Advancements have been made in non-bleeding natural color systems, food-only extracted colors and new sources for purple (think purple sweet potato and maquiberry juice concentrate) and green. Some even also deliver extra nutrition in terms of antioxidants.

3.    Lower-calorie sweetening systems for flavored milk, often based on stevia and/or monk fruit, were a frequently sampled prototype. There were so many variants, so many options and they were all so yummy. How’s a processor to choose?

4.    Coffee and milk is a match made in heaven, hence this summer’s numerous introductions of refrigerated, ready-to-drink coffee-milk beverages. Coffee extract suppliers showed us that there is so much more that can be done to create innovative beverages. Start planning for summer 2014!

5.    The same goes for tea! Dairy processors are uniquely poised to be able to produce some of the best-tasting ready-to-drink iced tea in the market. And the iced category is hot! I loved the layers of flavors that I sampled, as well as those iced teas with functional ingredients. Unsweetened iced tea is my favorite non-dairy, non-chardonnay cold beverage. Suppliers showed attendees that super sweet is not necessary when you start with a high-quality tea ingredient.      

My IFT Diet
Keeping in mind that I very discerningly sampled prototypes in order to not wreak havoc on my overly sensitive gastrointestinal system, in all honestly, I did not taste everything…and I am sure I missed some fabulous products. Like I stated before, this show was exceptional in terms of innovation.

But, I really loved:

Tate & Lyle’s Twice-Baked Fruit and Nut Cracker with Garlic Chive Mousse (super smooth and savory topping!), as well as the (lower calorie and sugar) Passionfruit Gelato.

Kancor’s Cardamom-seasoned Low-fat Milk was a show-stopper for me. Wow! I almost asked for seconds. This flavor would be great in a nutritional beverage or a breakfast-style fortified milk drink. It’s time to think beyond chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

Ingredia’s Cheasing’Up technology blew my mind. The company is revolutionizing the world of cheese with a patented technology for hard and soft cheeses without whey separation through the use of its proprietary dairy protein ingredient.

Ingredion served me breakfast every morning. Loved the self-serve yogurt bar, which featured a Greek-style yogurt and numerous functional toppings, such as reduced-sugar strawberry lemon ginger sauce and a prebiotic-enhanced granola.

SensoryEffects’ Peaches & Cream Milk-Juice drink was a daily thirst quencher. That Energy Mocha Coffee also gave me a much-needed jolt a few times.

Davisco’s Whey Protein-Fortified Chocolate Milk filled me up, preventing me from indulging on the many sweet treats that so many suppliers sampled. But I was not that full to resist…

David Michael’s Raspberry Rooibos Tea Frozen Greek Yogurt. (There’s that tea again!)

In closing, here are some great reads for this coming week:

The short- and long-term benefits of cultures and enzymes

Parents’ purchase drivers for children’s foods revealed

Natural Colors & Flavors Take Over, Says Mintel

Healthy Flavors Are Hot, Says Innova

And an amazing story about a Milwaukee-area gelato company (MUST READ!)

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