Functional, healthy benefits and indulgence are two value-added categories. Coating a finished product offers ways to tap into both categories.
In the functional ingredients arena, Clasen Quality Coatings, Madison, Wis., is staying on top of health and nutritional trends by experimenting with ingredients such as probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. The company offers product versatility by including the use of functional ingredients in confectionery coatings.
"When it comes to fortified coatings, we are limited less by quantity and more by desired taste and cost," said Rose Defiel, director of technical sales for C.Q.C. "One use of confectionery coatings is as a carrier for functional ingredients.
"Customers using coatings as carriers realize the coating is not the main component of the finished product and are not especially concerned with the taste of the coating since it will be combined with other ingredients. In these cases, we can include a relatively large amount of functional ingredients."
At other times the coating may play a larger part in a final product’s overall taste profile, according to the company. In these cases, the inclusion of the functional ingredient may be reduced slightly to help achieve a desired taste and mouthfeel.
Health claims may vary depending on the end application, according to C.Q.C. If a coating is formulated with a high percentage of protein, it still may be used only as a small drizzle on a large snack bar, which would not be enough for the coating on its own to constitute a nutritional claim for the finished product.
"That said, our customers often turn to C.Q.C.’s fortified Impac coatings specifically because their use as an ingredient can significantly contribute to the overall nutritional profile of a finished item and allow the customer to make nutritional claims that otherwise may not have been possible," Ms. Defiel said.
The Impac line is available in milk, dark, yogurt and peanut-flavored bases. They may be fortified with such ingredients as protein, fiber, folic acid, vitamins, minerals, calcium, iron and phytosterols.
Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Lititz, Pa., has an entry in the functional coating category with its no-sugar-added, high-protein confectionery coating under the Wilbur brand that contains 20% protein.
The company said antioxidant-rich dark chocolate may create both functional and indulgent benefits in coatings.
"Consumers are still seeking out products made with dark chocolate, not only because it is indulgent, but also because of the reported health benefits," said Courtney LeDrew, marketing manager for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. "In addition, consumers are still very interested in country-of-origin chocolates because they are curious about the flavor nuances of different types of chocolate."
The economic slowdown has not affected the dark chocolate and country-of-origin chocolate coatings offered by C.Q.C.
"Because our coatings are typically purchased as ingredients used in finished goods, we have not felt the effects of the economic situation on these two categories," Ms. Defiel said.
Companies may take steps to save money when working with coatings, Ms. LeDrew said.
"Companies can save costs by working with their supplier to ensure that the coating they are using is the optimal selection for their specific application," she said. "For example, a company can select the appropriate viscosity to provide optimal coverage as well as select the appropriate particle size.
"Particle size is important because of instead of paying more for a highly refined coating, a company might be able to reduce cost by using a coarser coating on hard or crunchy centers."
Last year Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate introduced confectionery coatings under the Wilbur brand. Wilbur W753 White Confectionery Wafers, Wilbur W754 Cocoa Confectionery Wafers, Wilbur W755 Dark Confectionery Wafers and W796 Peanut Flavored wafers are made without hydrogenated fats and are ideal for bakery applications.
Clasen Quality Coatings last year launched C.Q.C. Savory flavored coatings. The customized product line incorporates a non-sweet savory coating base and customers’ desired savory flavors such as bleu cheese, cheddar, ranch or honey mustard.
"We can now deviate from traditional sweet flavors to create virtually any flavor our scientists and customers can dream up," said Kelly Austin, director of technology for C.Q.C. "C.Q.C. Savory coatings allow for the use of confectionery coatings in the snack food category in ways never seen before."
C.Q.C. continues to work with customers, fats and oils suppliers, and flavor companies to stay on top of trends.
"People don’t expect to enter a confectionery coating company and notice the smells of green tea, chili peppers, or apples, but those are all flavors our lab has worked with in the past, and we are committed to delivering the innovative ingredients that are essential to the success of our customers," Ms. Austin said.
This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, March 3, 2009, starting on Page 31. Click