Driving growth in natural ingredients

Delivering product ranges with natural solutions is becoming ever more important to manufacturers, as Neill Barston reports

As a number of key manufacturers have revealed, delivering product ranges with a focus on natural ingredients has proved a significant factor for fats and oils businesses.

The move towards clean label products for confectionery and bakery ranges has impacted on a wide range of items, from gummies through to baked snacks.

According to Verity Clifton, applications technologist at Thew Arnott, the industry’s drive to improve products’ nutritional profiles remains an important ongoing process.
She says: “With more consumers concerned about the ingredients found in the products they eat, organic certification means that manufacturers of natural sweets have the reassurance that every ingredient, even the oil in wine gums is certified organic, and has traceability throughout the supply chain.
“There’s a growing trend for organic confectionery since for many consumers ‘organic’ also means natural, giving the product a ‘clean label’ status which is becoming essential in every food category including confectionery,” adds Clifton, explaining that clean label covers a broad range of criteria, from e-numbers and natural sourcing, through to awareness of a manufacturer’s carbon footprints.

It’s an area that many ingredients businesses have tapped into, including Cargill, which has unveiled a significant breakthrough this month. As the business explains, in order to help bakery and confectionery producers solve major challenges such as consumer expectations of clean labelling, nutrition profiling and sustainable manufacturing, Cargill has launched CremoFlex, its latest range of premium filling fats across Europe. These can be tailored to suit different specific formulation needs, including the use of RSPO certified palm solutions, and can be used in applications like filled biscuits and sandwich cookies, wafers, filled chocolate tablets and pralines.

Stefan Lehner, senior key account manager for Cargill’s edible oils business in Europe says: “This product range helps customers optimise production processes without negatively impacting the quality, taste and appearance of their products, in particular mouthfeel and melting profiles, while at the same time maintaining the brand loyalty of their consumers.”

Major theme

For its part, Netherlands-based ingredients business Bunge Loders Croklaan, is responding to the major topical theme of reducing sugar in product ranges. As the company acknowledges, this factor remains a significant challenge for chocolate in particular, as companies grapple with how to maintain taste and flavour profiles.

Renee Boerefijn, Director Innovation EMEA, Bunge Loders Croklaan explains that the company had a number of solutions for addressing this significant issue.

She says: “The recovery or retention of texture (for chocolate) in this reformulation context is an area of great interest for both Bunge Loders Croklaan and our customers, as we master mouthfeel and have a good grasp of the impact of our specialty fats on sweetness perception.

“The second big trend we saw was naturalness, for example vegan or organic. In the integrated Bunge Loders Croklaan portfolio, we already have a small range of organic products, which gives us a starting point to talk to customers. In the fine bakery space, more specifically cakes, our recently launched Bunge Delica Pro Gold delivers an e-free, lightly nut-flavored, airy and golden texture that embodies the naturalness trend very well.”

Meanwhile, another company prominent in this field, Tradin’ Organic, explained it is stepping up its presence in the oil and fat market with new product ranges. As the company explains, the business has considerable experience in sustainable sourcing.

“Since 2013, we have been running our own processing facility in Silistra, Bulgaria producing quality organic sunflower ranges. Last year, we added a new oil press to deliver high quality products to the market.

“We can now offer the confectionery industry different grades of oils, seeds and vegetable protein products,” explains the spokesperson, who adds the company is furthering its operations with a new processing unit for organic avocado oil in Ethiopia.

Equipment development

In terms of equipment for processing fats, Tecno 3’s FC-G line of continuous melters is intended for the confectionery, dairy and food industries in general.

According to the company, the equipment is equipped with a particular innovative system that guarantees high productivity, a reduction of energy costs and labour saving.

There are also reported gains for efficiency of heat exchange as a result of the mechanical work of hot rotors, which operate a scraping action on the blocks surface.

Furthermore, the blocks of fat are placed by the operator on the loading surface, and slide automatically towards the rotors, which are heated and equipped with a thin spiral. This acts as a scraper and continuously renews the area to be melted in contact with the hot part.

The melting blocks move towards the outlet, where they meet an inclined surface and receive a downward thrust, which increases the pressure on the hot rotors and accelerates the process. The liquid fat, that is contained in the tank where the rotors are housed, is continuously collected and sent to production. Constructed from stainless steel and designed with a key focus on insulation, the FC-G series continuous melters are equipped with a double thermoregulation circuit (rotors and tank), to keep the operating temperature constant and controlled, and managed by a complete electrical system integrated into the machine.

Gum market

One segment that has come under particular strain in recent years is the gum segment.
But manufacturers have responded in re-formulating products, with many, including Blockhead, coming up with varieties that offer added benefits including additional vitamins, which are marketed as an energy product.

A spokesperson says: “We have seen considerable trends in people wanting more than just confectionery or chewing gum. Consumers are demanding energy, protein and vitamins – something that gives more bang for their buck. It also follows the trend that people are becoming more and more time poor. They are looking for simple and easy things to add to their life and their health.

“Those insights have been at the core of our on-going product development and are why our range of functional chewing gums has been selling so well and getting widespread buy-in from shoppers. Our Energy Gum provides a quick and convenient performance boost for people on the go with the added benefits of B vitamins, ginseng and caffeine that get to work in only 5 minutes via oral absorption.”
The company adds that its focus for the development of its range has been in response to changing attitudes of consumers becoming more health conscious.

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