U.S. “Whole Seed” versus “Whole Grain” Labeling Alert


Our position is that whole-seed beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, mustard, sesame, walnut, pine nut, almonds and other whole seeds should also qualify as “whole grains” under FDA regulations.

[UPDATED] For FoodNavigator summary of this issue, please follow link at the end of this post.

Should a “whole seed” definition apply only to cereals (members of the grass family) or to all seeds (including flaxseed, sesame, beans, chia, lentils…)?

This is still an open question with major consequences for the food industry and consumers alike. Resolution of this issue will determine to what degree non-cereal seeds (grains) will be used in many of the new foods currently under development in the United States.

Although the official Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) comment period ended years ago, the word is that they are still looking for guidance on this matter. Here is how to make your opinion regarding “whole grain labeling” regulations…matter.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) first proposed a definition for “whole grains” in 2006, to be followed by a requisite 90-day comment period. Today (December 2013), a working regulatory definition remains elusive. There is still time for our industry to contribute to this debate.

Earlier this year, attendees of the Nutrition Division luncheon at the AACCI Annual Meeting (Oct 1-4, Albuquerque, New Mexico) learned that the FDA had communicated to a AACCI Nutrition Division delegation that: a) it wanted to make resolution of a “whole grain” definition a priority and b) today, seven years after the formal closing of the 90-day comment period, it was still open to comments that would help the FDA arrive at a proper decision.

This has enormous implications for the U.S. food ingredient and food manufacturing industries. Here are the how, why and what thereof:

  1. The original FDA proposal would only allow cereals (taxonomic members of the grass family) and “pseudocereals” (a very loosely defined term) such as amaranth and quinoa, to be included under this definition. Other whole-seed flours, such as flaxseed, sesame, chickpea or dry bean flours, would not be included even though they are a) more nutritionally rich than cereals and b) utilized in foods in very similar manners to those of cereals (which meets one definition for a “pseudocereal”). There is strong support among some in industry and academia for a broader “whole seed” definition that includes all whole-seed ingredients.                                 [ line space]
  2. Regulatory and nutritional interest in “whole grains” is driven by a recognition that the outer pericarp (bran) layers of the seed are rich sources of nutrients and that removal of the bran during milling diminishes the nutritional value of the seed.  This is true for all seeds, not just cereal seeds. Ergo, the guiding principle behind developing whole-grain definitions should be based on nutritional, not taxonomic, considerations. It is in the public interest to promote consumption of whole seeds…all whole seeds… versus refined or otherwise fractionated seeds.                                                               [line space]
  3. Exactly what constitutes a “whole grain” will have enormous implications for food formulation: for example, one proposed definition of a whole-grain food claim would mandate that a minimum of 8 grams per 15-gram serving (dry breakfast cereals) or 30-gram serving (cookies) be in the form of “whole grains”. If this definition is limited to cereals and “pseudocereals” (which also remain undefined) and allowing for other necessary “functional” ingredients in the formulation, this leaves precious little room for the use of other whole-seed ingredients such as flaxseed, sesame, pulse or even whole nut powders, in the formulation. Yet all of these non-cereal “whole seeds” generally contribute considerably more nutritional value to foods per unit weight than do cereals, as the recent upsurge in the use of such ingredients in gluten-free foods has demonstrated.                                                [line space]

As of now, there have been precious few letters submitted on behalf of a whole –grain definition that includes non-cereal seed ingredients. The flaxseed industry associations (Ameriflax, Flax Canada and Northern Crops Institute) are the only exceptions. Only ADM has submitted a letter supporting the inclusion of pulses, a fast-growing and nutritionally rich category, within whole grain definitions. From suppliers of sesame seeds, nutmeats, chia and others….nary a peep!

The gluten-free industry should especially be interested in expanding the definition of whole grains to all seeds, given the use of such whole seed ingredients as flaxseed, pea, bean and nutmeat flours as alternatives to gluten-containing wheat and barley cereal grains.

A list of letters already submitted can be found here:


 The ADM letter in support of designating pulses as “whole seeds” can be found here:


To those industries, associations and individuals that do have an interest in broadening the definition of “whole seed”, there is still time to make your voices heard to the benefit of improving nutrition, enhancing the public welfare and stimulating product innovation.

Please send your letters to:

Division of Docket Management (HFA-305)                                                                   Food & Drug Administration                                                                                         5630 Fishers Lane – Room 1061                                                                                 Rockville, MD  20852

Re.  Federal Register Vol. 71 No. 33: Docket 2006D-0066

For link to December 6, 2013 FoodNavigator-USA Summary of the issue:


Ireland’s Food Harvest 2020 initiative seeks North American food and beverage investment, targets New Zealand meat and dairy

Ireland Invest2

“Ireland is open for food, beverage and ingredients manufacturing businesses!”, that is.

Ireland has committed to become Europe’s food manufacturing center and gateway to the EU, said representatives of Enterprise Ireland at a well-attended meeting hosted by Enterprise Ireland and the “Food Industry Team” of the Chicago law firm, Freeborn & Peters LLP on November 5th, at Chicago’s University Club.

Ireland’s government and dairy and meat industries, meanwhile, have targeted New Zealand as their benchmark competitor in a decisive effort to transform Ireland into a global, export-driven dairy and meat powerhouse producer, as part of an ambitious plan dubbed Food Harvest 2020. Noting that the EU represents about 25% of the world’s consumer spending power, Enterprise Ireland representatives David Butler and Jonathan McMillan affirmed the Irish government’s commitment to lure American food, beverage and nutritional products manufacturers to Ireland through incentives and bolstered support structures.

“Once in Ireland, you will have full access to the EU”, they noted.

Citing the 2012 IMD World Competitiveness Rankings report, speakers pointed to Ireland’s:

  • No. 1 worldwide rankings for investment incentives, skilled labor, flexibility and       adaptability
  • No. 2 ranking in the world for openness to foreign investment
  • No. 2 ranking in Europe, for overall productivity and business environment.

The organic dynamism of Ireland’s food sector has already been evident in the U.S.: witness the rapid and decisive market share carve outs in the American food and food industry supplier network by Irish companies big (Kerry, Glanbia) and small (Megazyme) that occurred during the 1980s and ‘90s. One must remember that Ireland (pop. 4.8 million) is a country that punches well over its weight.

Ireland offers a natural base for American food and beverage companies, maintained Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney. Coveney went on to explain that in anticipation of the removal of EU milk production quotas in 2015, Ireland’s 5-Year Food Harvest 2020 Plan will launch a multi-pronged effort to upgrade its agricultural supply chains through government incentives and human capital and food technology investments, with a strong emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices and green technology applications.

Freeborn & Peters attorney John Shapiro noted that the increased confluence of U.S. and EU food quality and safety expectations and regulations will further smooth the entry of U.S. companies into the EU and that the EU is too large a market to ignore. Also, both sides of the Atlantic share similar business environments, cultures and consumer and regulatory trends (e.g., sustainability, increased protein consumption and “clean labels”).

Dairy and meat: high hurdles and major makeovers

Minister Coveney noted that, while Ireland’s milk and meat production lags well behind New Zealand’s, “New Zealand and Ireland share very similar production conditions”. Both countries, for example, rely heavily on pastured herds, which raises the possibility of value-added marketing of the nutritional and environmental benefits associated with pasture (versus intensive feed-based) milk and livestock production. Both Ireland and New Zealand place a high priority on agricultural sustainability and environmental initiatives.

New Zealand produced 19,173 million liters of milk in 2011/2012, versus 5,198 million liters for Ireland over the same period, according to the UK-based DairyCo Marketing Information. That is a high hurdle to overcome.

Food Harvest 2020 delineates aggressive development targets that require increasing milk production by 50% by 2020, together with 40-50% increases in beef, pork and lamb production, said Coveney.

In separate comments made to BEST VANTAGE Inc., Coveney allowed that there were many structural differences that needed to be overcome. Irish dairy herd sizes are still very small, averaging 50-99 head per farm, and milk production efficiency is very low. Plus, pasturage is expensive and underutilized in comparison to New Zealand and EU dairy powerhouses, such as Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands.

“However, all these hurdles are surmountable. We view this as a great opportunity for growth through structural improvements,” said Coveney, himself a former livestock manager.

Much of the anticipated growth in herd expansion is expected to come from improved land utilization and feed optimization. Given Ireland’s reputation as Europe’s “Celtic tiger”, it would appear foolhardy to underestimate its ability to meet its Food Harvest 2020’s targets.

Asked if the placement of increased “sustainability” burdens on Irish meat and dairy producers and would hamper rather than enhance agricultural efficiencies, Coveney strongly disagreed. “That’s what the farmers thought would happen at first, but when they began to see how sustainability considerations actually improved their efficiencies and saved them money, their attitudes changed.”

— Dan Best is the President of BEST VANTAGE Inc.

For more information:





Pulses in foods…summarized.

BEST VANTAGE Inc.’s fourth and final “How To:” Pulse WEBINAR, sponsored by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council through a grant conferred by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, was presented November 7th, with a record number of attendees. All four webinars in this series will be available for review in .pdf and/or presentation format in the near future at the link provided at the end of this post…so please stay posted.RandDTrends3

Although the focus of this webinar was on extruded products, ranging from pasta to puffed snacks, the presentation also reviewed previously addressed bakery, battered and fried products and beverage formulations as well the overall trend toward more pulse consumption in Western societies. Please note also that, whereas these webinars addressed peas, chickpeas and lentils, there have also been significant developments in the use of dry bean (Phaseolus sp.) – derived ingredients.

This most recent webinar #4 addressed the importance of amylose-to-amylopectin ratios in pulse starches and the effects of proteins, dietary fiber, moisture and barrel temperature conditions on the expansion properties of HTST (high-temperature, short-time) extruded snacks and breakfast cereals. The webinar also looked at low-shear extrusion…specifically, the positive contributions of pulse flours on the textural qualities, cooking properties and nutritional value of pasta. Much of this work has been undertaken at the North Dakota State University-affiliated Northern Crops Institute (NCI), which can be linked at www.northern-crops.com

In our view pulses are perfectly positioned to exploit a unique convergence of consumer trends in Western countries, that include: economy-driven price concerns, increased dietary protein consumption; heightened food safety awareness; sensitivity to environmental concerns and growing interest in ethnic-fusion cuisines. These trends will continue to stoke interest in pulses and pulse ingredients for the foreseeable future.

Here is a top-line overview of our four-part series:

 Pulses are going mainstream

Pulses increasingly appear in center-plate entrees, soups, salads and side dishes. New product applications for pulse ingredients include breakfast cereals, nutritional products, sweet baked goods, breads, nutrition bars, extruded snacks, crackers, snack chips, battered and fried goods, beverages and nutritional fitness products. Representative formulations were provided.

Quality standards

Pulses constitute a relatively new growth category in foods and international quality benchmarks have yet to be standardized. North America’s agricultural environment, combined with its production, shipping, handling and technical support infrastructure, has transformed it into a world leader in the production and export of high-quality dry beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas.

Strong consumer drivers

These include: strong demand for high-protein foods; the search for overall improved nutritional value; increased awareness of the importance of Glycemic Index and an aversion to the presence of gluten and other allergenic ingredients in foods. Pulse ingredients do not require allergen warning statements on food packages and examples were provided of how they can replace egg, milk and soy ingredients in a range of food formulations…at (usually) a considerably lower cost. Replacing cereal flours with pulse flours will significantly improve the nutritional profile of products and renders possible nutritional content claims for protein and dietary fiber. Finally, North American-grown pulses are environmentally friendly, as they are used as rotational crops that rejuvenate soils and that require very low levels (if any) of agricultural chemical inputs.

Functional pulse ingredients

Pulses differ from legumes, such as soy or peanut (groundnut), in that they contain significant quantities of starch and virtually no oil. Pulses contain high levels (22-30%) of highly functional proteins (similar to soy proteins) and a significant portion of their starch fraction is in the form of resistant starch. Already, a plethora of highly functional pulse ingredients have been made available to product developers from a growing number of ingredient suppliers, including starches, proteins, dietary fibers, brans and starch-protein combinations. This is only the beginning.

Cost advantages

The relatively low cost of pulses as compared to other protein (milk, eggs, soy) or even starch sources (corn, tapioca) provides a low-cost basis for developing further-processed pulse ingredients. In addition, they exhibit relatively low price volatility, which protects processed foods against commodity price swings. That being said, there can still occur temporary price spikes for the more-highly processed ingredients such as pea protein isolate, which are reflective of rapidly increasing demand outstripping production capacity (as has happened in the last two years with pea protein isolate). Nonetheless, such spikes are temporary and limited to the more narrow pulse ingredient segments. The industry is still catching up to increasing consumer demands for food product attributes that only pulse-based ingredients are best positioned to satisfy. It will take time.

A review of this Webinar #4 was published by Food Navigator and can be found at: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Markets/Pulses-hit-mainstream-with-improved-nutrition-gluten-free-applications

The Link for the four archived webinars can be found at the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council’s website under the “Food Industry Tab” at: www.pea-lentil.com/archives.

Pulse Ingredients in Extruded Snacks and Other Products

Two cooksThis final of four, highly-acclaimed FREE WEBINARS sponsored by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, through a grant provided by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture will be presented Thursday, November 7th.

In the first three “how to use pulses as food and beverage ingredients” WEBINARS, we reviewed:

  1. Growing consumer concerns about food allergens
  2. The ability of pulse ingredients to substitute for expensive and allergenic ingredients such as wheat gluten, nuts, dairy and eggs
  3. Formula cost benefits of using relatively low-cost pulse ingredients
  4. How to use pulse protein ingredients to boost nutritional value and improve ingredient functionality in foods and beverages
  5. How to apply pulse ingredients to specific food and beverage formulations

Already recognized for their nutritional and culinary value in much of the developing world, pulse (i.e., dry pea, lentil and chickpea) ingredients have been gaining interest among food, beverage manufacturers, nutritional product suppliers and foodservice companies as food ingredients. Among the consumer benefits driving this trend are their:

  • Uniquely rich nutritional profiles (high protein, high dietary fiber and low fat content)
  • Relatively low cost
  • Lack of allergen-labeling requirements
  • Functional versatility as ingredient in a wide variety of products
  • Their role in ethnic foods with popular appeal.
  • Environmental benefits (they are non-GMO and produced using sustainable agricultural practices)

In sum, peas, chickpeas and lentils are developing quite a culinary cachet that conforms well with many consumer expectations regarding nutrition, food and beverage product formulation, food ingredient safety and integrity and social values.

This FINAL 45-minute WEBINAR will focus on the carbohydrate components of pulses and discuss how pulse selection and processing variables can affect the performance of pulses in extruded pastas, snacks and breakfast cereals.

Also to be addressed will be the very low glycemic index (GI) value of pulses as compared to other grain and seed ingredients, its implications for public health and nutrition and how best to protect the low glycemic index value of pulse ingredients in your food formulations.

Finally, the WEBINAR will summarize this WEBINAR series, including a quick review of product formulation guidelines for bakery, beverage, batters & breaded products.

To learn more about this WEBINAR and to register for this event, visit this link:


(Note: WEBINAR registration is limited to 250 participants)


Pulse Proteins in Value-Added Food and Beverage Product Development



SEPTEMBER 24, 2013


Legume foods represent the perfect protein food in this conflicted era of economic stress, high-value food expectations and environmental responsibility. Here is an opportunity to learn the how and why of incorporating  pulse and pulse ingredients into food product development

This addresses the third in a series of four WEBINARS that address how to use pulses and pulse ingredients in food product development.

Legume foods (soybeans excepted) fall under the category of “pulses”, which include peas and chickpeas and lentils. The distinguishing feature of pulses as foods is that 1) they are high in protein content (20-30%), high in dietary fiber (9-17%) and very low in fat. They are also highly sustainable crops. As legumes, they restore nitrogen to soils and, in most large pulse-producing regions, require only minimum if any applications of agricultural chemicals.

Because pulses are not listed as allergenic foods, they can easily replace other allergenic protein ingredients, such as egg, milk, soy, nutmeats and wheat gluten.  Their well-balanced primary ingredient components (protein, starch and dietary fiber) are also highly functional, contributing thickening, emulsification, shelf-life extension and other properties to foods.  Finally, pulse-based ingredients are low cost.

Today, “protein” is a very hot food commodity, as consumers actively seek to increase their dietary protein consumption. Why?

Pulse proteins are nutritionally beneficial

The U.S. “2012 Food & Health Survey on Consumer Attitudes Toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health”, conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), found that 56% of consumers actively look for protein content on a food ingredient label and 48% actively try to consume a specific amount of or as much as possible protein in their food choices. The reasons given for protein’s appeal varied:

  • 88% recognize that protein helps to build muscle.
  • 69% recognized that protein “helps people to feel full”
  • 60% recognized that “high-protein diets can help with weight loss.”

On that note, pulse proteins offer  high-nutritional value, as measured by nutritional “Protein Score”: pulses offer all of the essential amino acids and a very significant component of the branched chain amino acids associated with muscle growth and healing.

Unfortunately, 25% of respondents also disclosed that they believed “Foods that contain protein are too expensive to consume as much as I would like.” For young, lower-income or overweight consumers, this number well-exceeded 30%. Well, that may be true for meat, egg and dairy products, but it is not the case for pulse foods and pulse protein ingredients.

Pulses proteins are highly cost-effective.

Pulses and pulse ingredients can be used to very cost-effectively boost the protein value of foods: for example, an analysis of the cost-per-unit protein of pulses found that they generally cost between 1/10th to 1/20th the cost-per-unit of protein in egg and milk ingredients. In addition, they exhibit very low price volatility, which is helps food and beverage-company purchasing agents sleep better at night. This, too, renders them highly desirable in food and beverage formulations.

On Tuesday, September 24, 1:00 – 2:00 PM U.S. Central Standard Time, the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council will host the third in its series of four FREE “Food R&D Trends” WEBINARS that offer practical “how-to” guidance on using pulse ingredients as value-added protein sources in food and beverage formulations. Pulses can play a very important role in cost-effectively satisfying growing consumer interest in the protein and amino acid value of their foods.

The WEBINAR will address the following:

• Pulses as Food Ingredients

• Why the Growing Consumer Interest in Proteins

• The Nutritional and Nutraceutical Value of Pulse Proteins

• How to Use Pulse Ingredients in High-Protein Food and Beverage Applications

• Food and Beverage Formulations

For more details on this FREE WEBINAR and how to register and participate, please follow this link: http://www.pea-lentil.com/webinars

Napa Valley (California) Culinary Tour (September 17-18, 2013)

If you can fit it into your schedule, please join the feast. A FREE event open to the food industry: Developed and underwritten by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council together with the Culinary Institute of America, this two-day educational seminar will take place at the Culinary Institute of America’s premier culinary college at the elegant Greystone in St. Helena, California (a 90-minute drive from San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento airports). The event will explore and create new food, beverage and nutritional product concepts using pulse and pulse-based ingredients.

Please note: although attendance and lodging is underwritten by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, you will still need to provide your own transportation.

Editorial comment: I attended a similar horizon-expanding culinary event in Chicago earlier this year, sponsored by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council in conjunction with Chicago-based Culinary Sales Support, Inc. and I can thus highly recommend attending this Napa Valley event if you can at all fit it into your schedule.

Not only will you gain a hands-on education about a new and exciting growth category and its many, many applications, you will also walk away with many new creative product ideas developed by America’s leading culinary institute. In BEST VANTAGE Inc.’s view, pulses represent a still early-stage product category for the American food and foodservice industries. The stunning rise of hummus as a ($0.5b -plus) retail and foodservice product category in just a decade should alert us all to the future possibilities for this category. The Chicago presentation was replete with ideas for pulse-derived baked goods, salad toppings, sauces, desserts, nutrition bars, soups, meats and beverages. I would expect even more creativity to find expression at this upcoming Culinary Institute of America event in September.

Many of today’s pulse-based product applications draw from recipes originating in South Asia or the Middle East. This is only the first stage. The next stage of development will see the fusion of pulse and pulse-based ingredients into new combinations tailored to American tastes and imaginations. (a wasabi-flavored hummus developed by chefs at the Chicago event offered very interesting retail possibilities, in my view). Be forewarned, however: you may inadvertently waaay overeat. — Daniel Best

To find out more about this event and to register, please follow this link: http://www.pealentilculinarycourse.com/

August Observations

Here are some quick summary alerts on the following subjects:

  • Food price projections and climate (all good news!)
  • U.S. Food & Drug Agency (FDA) Inspections and GRAS Self-Approvals (uh-oh!)
  • Dietary fiber can aid calcium absorption (who knew?)

Food Price Projections

All good news! Through our friends at Purdue University, we learn that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is predicting “bin-busting” harvests of corn and soybeans. From our friends at Food Business News (FBN) magazine (www.foodbusinessnews.com), we are alerted to the fact that the price of sugar has been plummeting, due to record high harvests. These events have unfolded as had been predicted by Drew Lerner of World Weather, Inc. at FBN’s (highly recommended!) “Annual Purchasing Seminar” in June, 2012, which pointed to fading La Niña conditions as signaling the beginning of a gradual end to the extended and extensive drought period of the past three years. Current favorable crop conditions are projected to continue into at least mid-2014. This should have a salutary effect on food prices and ease profit-margin pressures on food companies. Hopefully, this also foretells a burst in new food and beverage product innovation as raw material pressures ease for the foreseeable future.


Is More Food Scrutiny Warranted?

The U.S. Food & Drug Agency (FDA) is notoriously underfunded and understaffed and it can’t  (and shouldn’t) try to be everywhere all the time. However, pressures are mounting in terms of proposed import compliance changes and GRAS self-affirmations.

The FDA presented two proposals in July to expand food safety controls on imported foods. This will require more on-site inspections of facilities that export food to the U.S. The FDA anticipates doing this through 3rd party auditors.  This will be very good news for 3rd party auditors but not so good news for international food and food ingredient exporters that will now have to contend with new layers of compliance requirements under the U.S. Food Safety & Modernization Act (FSMA). The rationale for this decision is good, but it will significantly raise barriers for exporters of high-value foodstuffs to the United States. The U.S. is a net importer of high-value foods and, for some categories (e.g., seafood), is almost entirely reliant on foreign sources. Hopefully, this will not dissuade food importers from bringing new and trend-breaking foods and ingredients to our tables just because a full regulatory-compliance infrastructure is beyond their reach. (e.g., acai, quinoa, chia). Think about how this could impact the Free Trade movement, for example – added compliance requirements will require more intermediaries, not fewer.

Note: we include two such auditing experts in our BEST VANTAGE Inc. family of food industry professionals: Richard Stier and Rebeca Lopez-Garcia (Mexico). You can review their bios here: http://www.bestvantageinc.com/bvihomebio.html.

A bit more problematic is an article published in the August 7th issue of the Journal of American Medical Association [http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1725123] that alleges that the “potential” for conflicts of interest is rife in the process whereby the FDA allows “self” approval of new foods and ingredients as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

Unfortunately, the authors of that paper display little appreciation regarding the realities of GRAS affirmations from the perspective of government resources and capabilities. For GRAS self-affirmations of new ingredients, the government makes the suppliers do their own homework in documenting the safety of new foods and ingredients. Self-affirmed GRAS foodstuffs can be foods commonly consumed in other parts of the world or ingredient fractions refined from existing foodstuffs. The GRAS self-affirmation process has opened doors to an explosion of new food and food ingredient offerings to the benefit of the commonweal. Absent any evidence that this system has failed or is broken, tampering with the self-affirmation process can only serve to constrain and bottleneck one of the last remaining creative and dynamic sectors of our economy. So, absent of any such evidence of failure or danger to the public welfare, we say: don’t tamper with a GRAS self-affirmation process that works!

Prebiotics Aid Calcium Absorption

An endearing quality in the field of nutrition is conventional wisdom endures even as established dogma remains ever elusive. Not long ago, it was assumed that dietary fiber (specially soluble fiber) consumption interfered with essential mineral absorption.

Via the California Dairy Research Foundation (http://cdrf.org/), we learn of a Purdue University study that concluded that the consumption of 5 grams per day of prebiotic galactooligosaccharides significantly increased calcium absorption from milk in teenage girls. Obviously, if confirmed, this opens up tremendous new dairy product development opportunities to the public good.

Never, never take anything for granted in the fast-evolving field of nutrition!




Pulse Ingredients as Egg and Dairy Ingredient Alternatives

RandDTrends3smallEgg and dairy ingredients contribute critical nutritional and functional benefits, including adhesion,
gelling, aeration, binding
and emulsification, to a broad spectrum of
products. However, they
do come with some negatives that warrant consideration:

  1. Their use in American food products requires allergen-warning statements to be posted prominently on the front panels of food package labels.
  2. They are also expensive and subject to considerable price volatility.

In this increasingly cost-sensitive food industry environment, the relatively new pulse-ingredients category offers cost-effective alternatives to egg and dairy ingredients, either as partial replacers or 100% substitutes in formulations.

“Pulses” refers to high-protein legume foods, such as peas, chickpeas and lentils. As food ingredients, they offer superior nutrition, functionality, non-GMO appellation, clean-label designation and sustainability appeal. Generally, pulses contain 20-30% protein and are high soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, from which much of the ingredient functionalities (e.g., emulsification, water management) of pulses derive.

On Thursday, August 22, 1:00 – 2:00 PM U.S. Central Standard Time (CST), the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council and BEST VANTAGE Inc. will host the second of four FREE “Food R&D Trends” Webinars that offers practical “how-to” guidance on using pulse ingredients as alternatives to egg and dairy ingredients in food formulations.

Topics to be addressed in this webinar include:

  • Pulses as food ingredients
  • The role of egg and dairy ingredients in food product development
  • The advantages of pulses: formulation; cost savings; labeling and nutrition.
  • How to use pulse ingredients egg and dairy alternatives in food formulation

To Register:
Registration for this FREE Webinar is limited to 250 participants, so please use the following link for more details and to reserve your place:

This Webinar has been made possible through a grant from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

2013 IFT-EXPO Trends – Encapsulated!

BEST VANTAGE Inc. associates have been devoted attendees of the international Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meetings & Expos (IFT EXPO), held this year in Chicago (July 14-16). This year as in others, our members diligently covered the expo floor, gathering information to discern the consumer and technological trends that shape our food industry. Attendance at this year’s meeting was at a record high, so we were told. Here is a quick summation of this year’s major trends observed:

Clean labels were a dominant theme at this meeting. Food companies are gravitating to ingredients that read well on package labels and avoid ingredients that sound complex and artificial. So, definitely, anything “natural” is “in”. As one of our researchers put it, this means that ingredients such as gluconate, for example, could be in trouble, due to the word’s phonetic resemblance to “gluten” or “glutamate”. Food ingredient companies may want to revisit their marketing materials and reposition their narratives. Incidentally, Global Food Forums will highlight an applied R&D-focused conference on “Clean Labels” October 29-30, in Oakbrook, Illinois. Don’t miss it.

Gluten-free is hot…very hot! We knew that, as we have been doing a fair amount of work in gluten-free R&D. The art and science of gluten-free product development are still new, so opportunities abound. As per earlier posts, BEST VANTAGE believes that the gluten-free market projections provided by product-scan market research firms are way-too low: we project the market value at $70b by 2020. If you doubt us, call us or email us.

Natural colors everywhere. This is definitely a big push, in line with the food industry’s segue into clean label, sustainable and other consumer-friendly narratives. Even flavor companies (such as FONA) are jumping on this trend. There’s a lot of money to be made in this category and, as far as the technical challenges involved…well, that just looks like the color of opportunity. We aren’t there yet, but there has been quite a bit of progress

Proteins and more proteins. Surging cost-and-demand pressures on animal protein ingredients (e.g., egg, dairy), largely from Asia, are stoking interest in new sources of plant proteins. Pulse proteins (peas, chickpeas) are just now coming onto their own, with companies such as Allied Grain Traders (AGT) of Bismarck, North Dakota and Harvest Innovations (Indianola, Iowa) introducing new ingredient offerings. Burcon Nutrasciences Corp. (Vancouver, British Columbia) offered a pea protein isolate technology for licensing, with good flavor. Burcon has also developed a canola protein technology. Up-and-coming in the food industry: oat and potato proteins. 

Pulses. Full disclosure – the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council is one of our clients and pulse ingredients have figured prominently in some of our gluten-free work and webinar presentations. Once derisively dismissed as “poor man’s meat”, pulses are now quite culturally chi chi, offering compelling culinary narratives with respect to variety, nutrition, label friendliness, allergen aversion and sustainability. We remain great fans! Prior to the IFT-EXPO, we participated in “Culinary Tour” of the Chicago restaurant scene, sponsored by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. The tour featured wonderfully innovative renditions of pulse foods and food ingredients. A wasabi-flavored hummus…fabulous! We have seen the future. Go forth in peas!

Blended natural sweeteners. Two years ago, at the IFT-EXPO in New Orleans, the U.S. food industry witnessed a full-court press (using American basketball terminology) of stevioside, rebaudioside, luo han guo fruit (mogrisides) and other natural sweeteners that promised to sweep the industry. The only problem was that, with the exception of agave, they generally tasted, well…awful! This year these same ingredients were back, blended with other natural sweeteners. They were also very, very credible. Blends of natural (caloric) sweeteners with low or non-caloric sweeteners likely represent the future of our industry.

Sodium reduction. This trend, in our estimation, has peaked and now flat-lined. Companies now have a good understanding on the opportunities and limitations of sodium-reduction alternatives.

For the past six years, BEST VANTAGE Inc. has formulated and tracked technical developments in this category. This year, we noticed a marked flip from sodium reduction to potassium awareness (i.e., potassium is good!), which makes much more nutritional sense. The U.S. population is not so much over-sated with sodium as it potassium deficient. It is also deficient in two other critical nutrients that affect hypertension: calcium (/ vitamin D) and magnesium. It appears as if the food industry and consumer have both caught-on, which should spell excellent opportunities for new food product development. A major wild card that was thrown into the mix was the recent (May, 2013) statement, by the U.S. National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), that questioned about the skewed focus of U.S. public health authorities and nutrition nags on the overall public health benefits of dietary sodium-reduction. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Sodium-Intake-in-Populations-Assessment-of-Evidence.aspx. Let’s see what transpires.

Ethnic flavors. One of the appealing attributes of the U.S. consumer market is its incessant demand for innovation and variety. Combine: the competitive drive for innovation in the American food manufacturing and restaurant industries; heavy influxes of immigrants from the around world, and the peripatetic wanderings of American tourists, and what do you get? Not confusion, but cultural food fusion. This year, Caribbean and South American influences predominated (e.g., Puerto Rican, Peruvian), but we also saw a flowering of East Mediterranean (Turkish, Middle Eastern) flavors and hints and glimmers of African and South Asian cuisines on the horizon. In many of the foods and flavors offered on the IFT-EXPO floor, East met West and South merged with North in ethnic interminglings of exciting new eating sensations. Fusion!

This really is an industry worth celebrating.