1. Clean label still a major trend
Consumers are still calling out for their food and drink to contain ingredients that they can easily recognise and the removal of additives from the products they eat.
Clean label is a major trend that continues to be at the forefront of manufacturers’ thinking, which has, in turn, sparked innovations in the types of products and ingredients being developed.
Moe Emami, Bartek Ingredients’ Director of Marketing And Business Development, said that this has led to the rise of alternative functional ingredients. One example he gave was pectin, a plant-based ingredient employed in gummy manufacturing, which can be used across confectionery, vitamins, minerals and supplements.
Pectin can be a tricky ingredient to work with however, requiring a delicate balance of Ph to set properly. As Emami explained, this was one of the reasons for Bartek’s release of Pecmate Pectin Enhancer, which is designed to address the challenges of pectin-based gummy production.
2. Locally sourced
Still on the topic of plant-based ingredients, locally sourced produce was cited as a key consideration by both manufacturers and consumers.
However, in the world of food and drink manufacturing a local source for ingredients isn’t enough on its own if it can’t be produced at scale.
BENEO’s experts explained that, as well as local production and variety, scalability is essential: “You can have the nicest texture you can make and you can make a lot of it, but it’s no use without need scalable techniques.”
Locally sourced ingredients also play back into the clean label trend, providing consumers with a sense of security and trust in the foods they eat.
3.Regulation stifling innovation
While the UK has left the jurisdiction of the EU, food and drink firms still need to remain mindful of the regulations governing what can and cannot be sold in its member states.
Nicolas Carbonnelle from law firm Bird & Bird addressed FIE on the pressure the current regulatory framework was placing on producers. Innovative new ingredients and production methods are getting left by the wayside because they don’t meet the current requirements set out by the European Commission (EC).
Sustainability is high on the agenda at the moment, but innovations such as alternative proteins risk having to wait almost two years before they can make it to market. As a result of red tape, and when compared to other parts of the world, Europe is trailing behind.
While it is unclear whether or not the UK will continue to seek parity with EU regulations, manufacturers would do best to adhere to rules set out in mainland Europe in order to avoid being caught out if their products are sold there.
4. Extending shelf life through reformulation
Food waste continues to be a major issue throughout the entire food chain, sparking a raft of solutions from manufacturers and experts alike in an attempt to curb the trend.
The solution offered by Kerry Foods was to reformulate food and drink products to have a longer shelf life in an attempt to prevent useable food from being discarded by consumers.
It also suggested using different ingredients to prevent waste during the production process. One example it gave was using different enzymes during the production of dough to prevent it from sticking to mixing equipment, reducing giveaway.
Food and drink manufacturers could also better educate consumers on the differences between best-before, use-by and sell-by dates and how long their food and drink remain safe to consume.
5. Fermentation: The solution?
One of the standout ingredients trends in recent years has been the rise of fermented foods. Often touted for their health credentials, fermented food and drinks have made their way into every supermarket aisle.
Going forward, fermentation is now being viewed in a different light – as a way to create new and ‘better’ ingredients that help manufacturers solve challenges in the production process.
MycoTechnology demonstrated the use of fermentation to unlock the possibilities of mycelium, the ‘engine’ behind mushrooms, across a number of use cases. Myco’s Senior Director, Marketing, Innovation & Growth Strategy, Lisa Wetstone, demoed a health drink it has created that uses the power of mycelia to act as a ‘bitter blocker’. Essentially, manufacturers can employ this to mask off-notes of ingredients which possess useful qualities within a recipe, but don’t boast such a desirable taste.
Wetstone went onto add that fermentation is an ambiguous term, encompassing many techniques – from traditional yeast fermentation to precision based. Consumers are becoming more aware of the phrase, she said, but more education is needed.
“I think a lot of it is going to be about learning how to explain to the consumer ‘what is fermentation doing for me? How am I using this process to produce a better finished product?’” she elaborated.
6. Nutrition optimisation
Good for you was the phrase on the lips of Kerry at this year’s FIE, with the nutrition profile of foods becoming a key consideration in the future of product development.
This trend of nutrition optimisation will see value added to products through the inclusion of fibre, the removal of sugar and better guidance on how food can be more beneficial to consumers health, while still being mindful of legal guidelines.
“We see this driven on the one hand by consumers becoming savvier around front of pack labelling and actively seeking out products that are better for you, low in fat, salt and sugar,” said Kerry’s CTO, Therese O’Rourke.
“On the other hand, we see the introduction of taxes and nutrition regulations clamping down on products higher in fat, salt and sugar.”
7. The future for fibre
With all the talk of reformulation and the push to curb the growth of obesity among the general public, the time has come to look at the bigger picture. It’s not good enough to focus on certain ingredients, but to think more in concepts.
For Taiyo’s MD Stefan Siebrecht, this concept and greater trend is dietary fibre and the lack of good fibre in people’s diets.
“Dietary fibres are low in calories, they satisfy us and analysis shows that the more fibre we eat, the less diseases we get,” he said, waving the flag for fibre-enriched foods.
“Thousands of years ago when we were hunter gatherers, we were eating 110 grams of fibre a day. It meant we had no diabetes, no obesity nor intestinal tract cancer.”
“[Today,] we’re eating all the time and that is ageing us. Food intake is too high and fibre intake too low.”
Importantly, however, Siebrecht added that the fibre we eat must also be “the right kind”.