Daniel Best (BEST VANTAGE Inc.) to speak at April 2014 “Proteins Trends and Technologies” Seminar.

Daniel Best will speak at the Global Food Forum’s 2nd Annual “Protein Trends and Technologies Seminar” (April 8-9, in Arlington Heights, IL) on the topic of how to establish practical working criteria in choosing between different protein ingredient options.

The food industry will soon face a plethora of different protein ingredient selections, even as global demands for protein are soaring. Best’s presentation, “Sooo many proteins, so little time: how to choose” is designed to help food, beverage and nutritional industry professionals make clear-eyed choices based not just on protein functionality, but business and legal considerations as well.

The first day (April 8th) of the two-day Protein Trends and Technologies Seminar, “Strategic Insights for Business Growth”, will emphasize marketing, business and regulatory aspects of the surging protein ingredients industry. The second day, “Formulating with Proteins”, will focus on the technical and quality challenges of incorporating protein ingredients into finished food, beverage and nutritional products. For more information on this conference and how to register, please visit:


Note: This 2nd Annual Seminar continues 2013’s highly acclaimed “Proteins” seminar hosted by Global Food Forums, a complete Conference Report on which can be downloaded from this Link:


2013 Global Food Forums’ “Clean Label” Conference: top-line summary.


Clean Label

Global Food Forums’ first-ever “Clean Label” conference was held in Oak Brook,Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) on October 29th and 30th, 2013. The well-attended conference stimulated dynamic interactions between participants and speakers that underscored the importance of and confusion engendered by this trend. Archived presentations from this meeting can be viewed at the link provided at the end of this posting.  Here are quick-read highlights of the meeting’s presentations:


Looking for “short” ingredient lists

Steven French (NMI) noted that In 2012, “51% of consumers surveyed indicated that they selected foods on the basis of the ingredient list, and 52% of consumers selected on the basis of the nutritional facts panel” and 47% say they looked for “short” ingredient statements.

Shrinking retail space for processed foods

Leslie Skarra (Merlin Development, Inc.) explained that retailers are shrinking “processed” food shelf space while imposing clean-label demands on their own private label brands. Different retailers maintain their own lists of “approved” ingredients.

Clean label appeal is very broad

Linda Gilbert (EcoFocus Worldwide, LLC) presented data showing that “68% of grocery shoppers regularly patronize the Big Box stores, 49% shop the retail chain grocers, and 19% regularly shop at Natural Chain stores”. Gilbert summarized what consumers are looking for in each of the major U.S. retailers’ signature “clean label” brands. Private label brands have been a dominant growth trend in U.S. food retailing.


How to save on packaging costs

Ken Marsh (Kenneth Marsh & Associates, Ltd.) observed that, ”use by…” code dates are a primary cause of a lot of food waste”. He provided data that demonstrated how specific product shelf-lives can vary by as much as 300 days, depending on ambient temperature, production, transportation and warehouse storage conditions. Marsh suggested that there exists a major opportunity for sustainability improvements and cost savings through code-date differentiation for different regions and seasons.

There could also be different standards for packaging materials, depending on season – for example, using heavier (more expensive) moisture barriers during hot-humid seasons and lighter barriers for more temperate seasons and regions. “This creates more complex inventory management paradigms that could be managed through RFID technology” and that should generate substantial cost savings.

Marsh’s conclusion: “don’t package for the worst market conditions…package for the total market conditions!


Green tea and mustard seeds

Prof. Fereidoon Shahidi (Memorial University of Newfoundland) – reviewed antioxidant mechanisms and provided data demonstrating how natural green tea extract and mustard seed flour provided highly effective antioxidant protection, rivaling that of synthetic antioxidants, in a variety of food systems. The flip side is that one must minimize the presence of auto-oxidative catalysts in food and beverage systems, noting that “copper is 50-times more pro-oxidative than iron”.

Natural antimicrobials still a challenge

Kathleen Glass (University of Wisconsin’s Food Research Institute) – discussed work underway at the FRI to identify naturally derived preservatives. “Clean-label antimicrobials are often associated with colors or flavors” and tend to be more effective at lower pH values. Many are derived from natural fermentation, such as the calcium propionate produced from Swiss cheese cultures. Vinegar also has very powerful antioxidant properties, but one needs to be aware that natural antimicrobials’ effectiveness is contingent upon a wide spectrum of formulation conditions, said Glass. A checklist was provided.


Natural flavor labeling…still confusing

Prof. Gary Reineccius (University of Minnesota) – summarized natural flavor labeling regulations in the U.S. Basically, “natural” refers to any flavorant not used for any other purposes, that has been extracted or enzymatically derived from a plant or animal source or roasted. If the natural flavoring ingredient is a characterizing product (e.g., natural cherry flavor in a cherry pie), then it may be called a “natural [product]” on the front panel. Otherwise, if the natural flavoring is non-characterizing (for example, natural vanilla extract used in a cherry pie), then it must be referred to as a naturally flavored [product name] on the front panel. And much, much more…

Natural food labels are the “new tobacco”

Anthony Pavel (Morgan Lewis) – provided a refreshing presentation on “when natural isn’t good for you”. It included a thought-provoding discussion on increasing food safety and litigation risks, noting that Big Tobacco has transmogrified into Big Food as a target for the plaintiffs industry. “The plaintiffs’ bar is aggressively going after the food industry today,” said Pavel. A big focus of litigation activity has been and will continue to be the misuse of the term “natural.” So, be extra careful!

Organic and other claims still in flux

Sharon Herzog (Country Choice Organic) – shared her approach, as R&D Director, to the challenges of organic and clean label-centered product development from a working scientist’s perspective. She mentioned that the true growth market in this category was the “20-25% of households that were both ‘fact-based’ and committed to health and wellness”. Today, 81% of U.S. households buy at-least some foods from the $35b organic foods sector, said Herzog. She reviewed the challenges of conforming ingredients to the rigors of the National Organic Standards Board’s ever-changing lists and definitions for the different levels of “organic” compliance (i.e., 70%, 95% or 100%). Each ingredient requires its own supply chain due diligence, she emphasized. Plus, she added, there are all the other verifications to consider, required by the various consumer sub-segments huddled under the “organic umbrella” (e.g., free range, free trade, vegan, gluten-free). As the famed green spokesamphibian Kermit the Frog was wont to say, “It’s not easy being clean!”


Clean label culinology

Mark Crowell (CuliNex, LLC) – provided specific examples of how clean-label culinology has helped food companies trade-up into new and profitable categories. For example, the Sunsweet® cooperative introduced a retail bread made and with and branded as Plum Amazins® plum concentrate. Plum Amazins contributes low Glycemic Index, high dietary fiber, shelf-life extension and preservative qualities to bread and other products and…all that with a clean ingredient label.

Natural colors: the new frontier

Prof. Ronald E. Wrolstad (Oregon State University) – discoursed on natural colors. “Neither the FDA nor the EU has a legal definition for natural colorants”, he said. The source of colorants can have a big impact on their stability. For example, anthocyanin dyes from black carrots exhibit “good-to-excellent” stability at pH<4.5 but the anthocyanins from red grape extract only exhibit “fair-to-good” stability at pH<3.5. Tomato lycopenes, meanwhile, are stable through a broad pH range. Because of their high price, natural colorants are tempting targets for adulteration. So, be careful!

Clean starch modification

Sakharam Patil (S.K. Patil & Associates) – discoursed at length on technologies used to produce clean-labeled starches. These included: a) heat-moisture treatments (i.e., controlled swelling); b) annealing ; c) dry roasting; d) spray drying and e) enzymatic modification.

Harnessing multidimensional flavor perceptions

Alex Woo (w2o Food Innovation) delivered with characteristic wry humor the basics of taste physiology and a review of natural tastants available to the product developer. This presentation segued to address the “cross-modal associations” of other sensory variables (sight, smell, tactile, sound) on taste perceptions. For example: subliminal vanilla, carbonation, round shapes, colors, color contrasts and high-pitched tinkling noises can each enhance sweetness perceptions. Who knew?

(15 minute presentations on clean label-branded ingredients)

Clean-label tomato paste extender

Erik Hassid (Givaudan) promoted a tomato paste-replacement system that provides umami impact without added MSG, as a means of softening cost volatility in tomato-containing products. If cost-volatility management is the coming thing in product development, purchasing agents will be mightily pleased.

Non-GMO, trans-fat free, no preservatives, extended shelf-life fats and oils…

Mary LaGuardia (Dow AgroSciences) promoted high-oleic, low-linolenic acid “Omega-9” oils and shortenings with greatly extended shelf lives (…and “double the fry life” of conventional shortenings) that obviate the use of antioxidants in the oil. The zero trans fat canola and soy-based shortenings and oils are the product of conventional breeding. The company offers a nifty cost-savings calculator for use of this shortening in food service operations at its website: http://www.omega-9oils.com/healthier-frying/

Sulfite-free fruit preservation

Kevin Holland (Tree Top, Inc.) presented dried, color-protected apples slices, mde using Tree Top’s new sulfite-free alternative that both preserves color and reduces sodium. The new preservative system’s label lists sea salt, lemon juice concentrate, and molasses. On a side note: molasses antioxidants have been the focus of considerable research for their nutraceutical properties. Interesting, that.

A 100% egg replacer for bakery

Diane Hoffpauer (Glanbia Nutritionals) discussed Optisol® 3000, a 100% egg replacement system applied to Italian bread formulations. Benefits included reduced ingredient costs, reduced fat, improved taste and texture, improved yield and a clean ingredient label.

Powerful all-natural flavor and salty taste enhancer

Doug Lynch used extensive documentation and live taste testing to prove the power of LycoRed’s SANTÉ all-natural sodium-reduction and flavor enhancement system extracted from tomatoes. Your’s truly tested the ingredient in soy sauce…the ingredient contributed an explosive salt taste in that medium. The ingredient contributes both umami and kokumi notes to foods and beverages.

Purple sweet potato as color and antioxidant source

Tayo Bisiolu (Vegetable Juices, Inc.) presented a purple sweet potato juice for use as a clean-label colorant that is both rich in antioxidants and nutraceutical value. The (red-purple) colorant has a two-year shelf life when stored frozen and is most stable at a pH of 3-4.

FOR A COMPLETE SET OF CLEAN LABEL CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS, VISIT THIS SITE:  http://www.globalfoodforums.com/2013-cleanlabel/downloads/



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.