The clean-label trend was examined on a global scale at the Food Ingredients Europe Expo this year. The demand for good-for-you ingredients was apparent at the event but what manufacturers learned about was the increasing consumer interest in food manufacturing techniques.
Food companies are looking at processes such as cold brewing, cold pressing, fermentation, super-heated steam and high-pressure processing (HPP). Such production processes are perceived as “clean” and natural methods to consumers.
“This is all about what we’ve seen before as consumers are looking for clean label, more natural products,” said Kyra Teeken, a market analyst with Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands. “They want to know about the processing as well.”
Teeken highlighted fermentation as a processing technique with consumer interest. Popular fermented drinks like Kombucha are causing a stir in the health-market due to their high probiotic content. Now, there are new innovations in fermentation techniques which allow manufacturers to expand their line of clean-label fermented products. Netherlands-based company, TNO Innovation, recently introduced microbiologic fermentation strategies to develop food ingredients.
“There are a lot of products made with the use of fermentation,” said Joost Blankestijn, a researcher at TNO Innovation. “The technique allows you to make all kinds of ingredients, including preservatives and sweeteners.”
Blankestijn also talked about the company’s work with super-heated steam. The process involves heating steam to higher than normal temperatures in order to form a heated dry gas. This gas is able to finish the frying process for a variety of foods, resulting in lower-fat content in those products. The super-heated steam can also be used to enhance the functionality of ingredients like flour or starch.
Up and coming processing methods include cold-pressing and cold brewing. HPP techniques are used to extract raw juices from fruits and vegetables while maintaining the natural taste, texture and quality of the product because HPP is done with cold temperatures. The method can also extend the shelf like of products by two to three times longer than traditional methods. There is now a Cold Pressure Verified logo manufacturers can use to prove to consumers that they have used HPP correctly.
It is likely that more verification labels will be introduced on packaging as consumers gain knowledge on processing methods. Fermentation, cold-brewing/cold-pressing and super-heated steam processing methods are likely to gain traction in the food industry due to evolving consumer preferences.