When bakers face supply-chain bottlenecks, clean label expectations, and longer shelf-life goals, they can look for new technologies, new suppliers or new business models. But the most affordable solution might just be reformulation.
Reformulation was on everyone’s mind at the Food Ingredients Expo in Paris, in December 2022. New plant-based proteins from chickpea, wheat or fava bean, aimed to replace, at least partially, the egg, whose price went through the roof this year. Fiber enhancers to help bridge the nutritional gap that affects all Europeans. Sugar-reduction ingredients to meet consumers’ new health goals. Nutriscore-advancement ingredients-based solutions. Even enzymes that help bake loaves faster and save on energy. However varied this year’s challenges have been, reformulation was on the table as a possible solution.
In an interview earlier this year with Julien Bonvallet, Group Brand Director, Informa Markets, about FiE 2022, he told us Informa’s surveys confirmed this preoccupation: “A lot of the companies that we spoke to have actually taken steps towards refocusing on reformulation rather than new product development and, again, that’s a response to some of their ingredients or material increases in price or just their availability being impacted.” The trade show was an opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their ingredients-based solutions and how reformulation can impact businesses, from food waste level to bottom line.
Reformulating for Extended Shelf-life and Less Food Waste
During a case study at Food Ingredients Europe 2022 in Paris, in December 2022, Emma Cahill, Global Marketing Director, and Dr. Sabina Cairoli, Business Development Manager, of Kerry, talked about the various ingredient-based solutions to food waste. Their holistic approach – looking at the production and consumption process at every step – showed that there are options for every weak link.
One common problem manufacturers have is the waste that happens because dough sticks to the equipment – mixer bowls, for example – and that, through reformulation with a Kerry BioBake enzyme that prevents stickiness, can be solved in an instant.
Moreso, the two experts elaborated, one significant step where manufacturers can make a difference is the shelf life. May that be conventional ingredients like propionate-based solutions that extend mold-free shelf life and food-grade acidifiers based on single (di)acetate salts or clean label fermentates – fermented wheat, rice and other common food substrates – and dry neutralized vinegar, reformulation can help prolong the life of baked goods and prevent food waste at a large scale.
Kerry’s consumer research nuanced the mainstream discourse about how much consumers read labels and require clean label products. In truth, there are three types of consumers: those who buy clean label only (they read the labels and expect to recognize every ingredient), those who buy conventional only (they never read the label and they make decisions based on price), and, the largest group, those who have both behaviors. Which means they sometimes read labels and choose clean label products, while other times they make shopping decisions based on price, taste or whim. For those who don’t read labels, the reformulation can be done with conventional ingredients, while for those who are label-sensitive, there are clean label solutions such as the UpGrade fermentates and the IsoAge Ca vinegar.
Reformulating for longer shelf life has an impact both at retailer’s level and at consumer’s level. Waste Resources Action Programme, an UK organization, showed recently that extending the shelf life of products by one day only can save up to 250,000 tons of food waste each year. Kerry, corroborating various research, says that half of the food waste that happens in households can be eliminated by prolonging the shelf life by several days.
Reformulating for the Weekend Warrior
“Five years ago, the people buying protein bars were the professionals, the athletes building muscle,” said Marie-Bénédicte Charpentier, Marketing and Growth Director, EMEA, for ADM, in an interview for Baker & Biscuit at FiE 2022. “Now, with this holistic well-being trend, the ones buying them are people who do sports at home or have started running two weeks ago, people who take care of their health. And that means many more people are buying bars. But they are not really ready to compromise on taste.”
Charpentier made here the point of the rising market for sports nutrition, a niche that used to be limited to the professionals, but which got mainstream with the popularization of mass sports like cycling and running. With protein in focus, sports nutrition is now an up and coming market that still has to find a balance between taste and usefulness. “It used to be that a bar was either healthy, either tasty, but never both,” says Hendrik Freudenstein, Vice President Food, EMEA, at ADM. Today’s consumers want both. And the ones discovering their health personality also want it to be plant-based and clean label.
Alternative proteins such as pea, chickpea, wheat or fava are great favorites in reformulation for added nutrition to such foods – their success varies with how much ingredient producers manage to eliminate their specific odors. Texture, which contributes to the mouthfeel, can be introduced with seeds, nuts, fruit and vegetable powders and whole grains. And flavors, today’s consumer’s final test, can be improved with extracts and distillates that harness what nature has to offer.
Reformulating for Sugar Reduction
You can read the rest of this article in the World Bakers Dossier #2, which you can access by clicking here.