Clean label and vegan ranges continue to drive confectionery recipe reformulation

An acceleration in demand for clean label and vegan products is driving recipe reformulation with healthier ingredient alternatives, particularly as the confectionery and bakery sectors are most at risk of de-prioritisation in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Daisy Phillipson reports

Following government recommendations to practice social distancing, now more than ever suppliers must work with limited resources and adapt their usual processes. Healthier and reduced sugar products were already high on the agenda for confectionery and bakery suppliers, only this trend is forecasted to be accelerated by the ongoing pandemic.

According to AI-powered food intelligence start-up Tastewise, there has been a staggering growth in internet searches for foods that come with an added health boost, including a 66 percent increase in those related to immune system benefits. The subject of healthier confectionery encompasses a wide range of themes that are largely dependent on factors such as product type, distribution channel and geography. Although there’s still room for indulgence, high sugar content related to obesity is a severe concern among consumers across the globe.

The rise in demand for sugar reduced products has posed significant challenges for manufacturers, with a recent poll showing 64 per cent of the industry believes reducing sugar in confectionery and bakery to be most difficult. One of the biggest obstacles is that sugar delivers more than sweetness; colour, consistency and preservation are all tied into its ubiquity. This is where acacia gum, also known as gum arabic, comes into play. The natural gum made of hardened sap from two species of acacia tree has long been used in food applications.

But, more recently, French natural gums company Alland & Robert released research into the role this 100 per cent natural additive can play in sugar-free and sugar-reduced confectionery products. As the company explained, the functional properties of acacia gum improve the texture of medicated confectionery, boiled candies or pastilles, bringing thickness and acting as an anti-crystallisation agent when used in combination with sucrose and glucose.

In association with polyols, the additive is extremely efficient for sugar-free coating, making it an essential tool for creating reduced sugar chewing gum or coated candy. The leading supplier of high quality shellac, waxes, natural gums and resins, notes that as well as use in sugar reduced products, gum arabic functions as a glazing agent to coat chocolate products thanks to its film forming ability, acts as a barrier coating to separate sugar and fat, and emulsifies oils and fats used as flavourings.

In terms of texture, the additive enables chewy candies to be chewed for a longer period without sticking to the teeth and is used in higher concentrations in reduced calorie soft candies. “In addition, it is used as a flavour carrier, imparting a clean, long-lasting fresh taste in chewing gum,” comments Clive Roberts, customer relations manager, A. F. Suter. “Gum Arabic is also used in anticariogenic (anti-tooth decay) candies since it is resistant to degradation by microorganisms in the mouth.”

Plant-based additives

The use of acacia and other natural gums is forecasted to grow in 2020 and beyond as demand for clean label products continues to rise. Remarkable expansion of the processed food sector has propelled the utilisation of these inclusions, with market growth of thickening agents predicted to increase at a steady CAGR of four per cent between 2019 and 2028. Plant-derived additives such as acacia and locust bean gum and seaweedbased thickening agents including carrageenan remain sought after, with a collective share of 50 per cent in market value. Their use in bakery and confectionery applications is predicted to grow by 1.6 times over the forecast period. One of the growth factors is due to dietary preferences shifting towards plant-based options. In a DuPont-sponsored study conducted by HealthFocus, 42 per cent of respondents said they prefer more vegan foods in their daily diet.

Also, the environmental component of this dietary shift is not negligible, as three out of four Millennials are willing to spend more on ethical products. DuPont offers a wide range of vegan-friendly, functional solutions for confectionery production. Based on palm, soya or coconut oil, the company’s Grindsted Acetem is widely used to provide gum softness, and also contributes to increased bubble size in bubble gum.

Grindsted Carrageenan, derived from red seaweed, can be used in cold flow stability in caramel systems and provides a wide variety of textures in fruity jellies enabling good flavour release. In addition to confectionery, the widespread growth of veganism coupled with pervasive movement towards clean label and sustainability continue to impact the growth of ‘better for you’ bakery ingredients.

Matthew Bratt, patisserie chef from Puratos UK, comments: “We know from our Taste Tomorrow survey that consumers are looking for healthier options within their choice of treats and products such as our speciality fats help bakers and food manufacturers to achieve this, without sacrificing on taste and texture.” Puratos’ Aristo, for example, is a plant-based vegetable margarine that offers a tasty butter and is suitable for laminated products such as croissants and danishes. One of the company’s flagship products, Mimetic, is also vegan-friendly and can be used to create bakery and patisserie goods with workability, convenience and profitability.

Filled with flavour

Alongside vegan preferences, there are many factors impacting consumer behaviour nowadays such as food safety, product quality, taste, mouthfeel and appearance. These features are addressed by a number of Cargill’s plant-based ingredients for bakery and confectionery such as CremoFLEX, a diverse range of filling fats. The customisable portfolio comes in four sub-categories to meet a wide variety of applications and functionalities. Within the range, CremoFLEX S can be used to create indulgent and sustainable treats, while its F series allows for the creation of bakery and confectionery items with multiple sensory experiences.


For soft, creamy fillings with long-lasting flavour release, the L series is the ideal choice, and for sustainable, clean label claims, the CremoFLEX E range offers a palm-free alternative for premium applications. This is just one example of Cargill’s extensive portfolio of ingredients utilised by the food industry to create products that cater to market trends. As is the case for all suppliers to the sector, the company is working around the clock with farmers and customers to feed the world safely and responsibly during this unprecedented time. What impact the coronavirus outbreak will have on the food industry remains to be seen, but certainly a number of practical challenges lay ahead. Collaborating with ingredients suppliers who provide essential solutions and expertise will prove an essential tool to meet consumer demand while catering to the ongoing trends of sustainability, reduced sugar and plant-based alternatives.


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