Innovations at Fi Europe

by Keith Nunes
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Against the backdrop of a global recession that has slowed the pace of innovation throughout the global food and beverage industry, many suppliers and food manufacturers met in Frankfurt, Germany, Nov. 17 to 19 for Food Ingredients Europe and Natural Ingredients, the biennial trade show that is put on by United Business Media. While value has been a key industry trend during the past few years and may remain so during 2010, it was clear health, wellness and convenience were not going to be shunted aside, and may reemerge in the forefront of industry trends.

Following the show U.B.M. announced attendance was up 18% during 2009 when compared to the last F.I.E. conference held in 2007. More than 1,200 exhibitors purchased booth space at the show, with more than 300 being first-time exhibitors.

“The success of the show is a testament to the resilience of the industry and the industry’s trust in Fi Europe,” said Greg Cherry, event director. “Our attendees know they will meet their global ingredients industry here in one place. In tough economic times, Fi Europe remains a cost-effective and efficient business development platform.”

Following the first day of the show, the Food Ingredients Excellence Awards were given out. National Starch Food Innovation, which has offices in Bridgewater, N.J., was awarded with the main prize for its N-Dulge FR ingredient, which is a co-texturizer that enables the amount of butter, margarine or shortening used in cake recipes to be reduced by 75%.

“The judges quickly identified two front-runners for this award,” said Henry Dixon, chair of the judging panel. “In our final analysis we looked for an ingredient that not only benefitted the manufacturer and retailer but that also held out the promise of helping consumers overcome a real and significant challenge.”

Alison Knight, European technical development manager, bakery, National Starch Food Innovation, said, “We are thrilled. N-Dulge FR is a product that we’ve really believed in and to gain this recognition from the industry is truly amazing.”

National Starch also received the Bakery Innovation of the Year. Chr Hansen, Horsholm, Denmark, won Savory/Meat Innovation of the year for Bactoferm Rubis and Dairy Innovation of the Year for CHY-MAX M. Bactoferm Rubis addresses oxidization problems in packaged meats naturally, and CHY-MAX M delivers reduced costs and increased shelf life in dairy applications.

The Confectionery Innovation of the Year award went to Gent, Belgium-based Fuji Oil Europe’s Redusat, which contains half the amount of saturates as normal saturated fats but maintains the same structure. Lyckeby Culinar AB, Fjälkinge, Sweden, won the Snacks/On-The-Go category with its Culinax flavoring system for difficult-to-flavor products.

Health claims top of mind

A key topic of concern discussed often throughout the show was the Oct. 1 publication of opinions regarding health claims by the European Food Safety Authority.

The opinions provided scientific advice on 523 health claims relating to more than 200 foods and food ingredients such as vitamins and minerals, fiber, fats, carbohydrates, probiotic bacteria, and botanical substances. For approximately one third of the claims the outcomes of the evaluations were favorable as there was sufficient scientific evidence to support the claims, according to the E.F.S.A. The claims related mainly to functions of vitamins and minerals, and also included dietary fibers, and fatty acids for maintenance of cholesterol levels, and sugar-free chewing gum for maintenance of dental health.

Almost half of the evaluations with unfavorable outcomes were owing to a lack of information on the substance on which the claim was based, according to the E.F.S.A. Two such examples were probiotic bacteria and botanical substances. Without clear identification of the substance in question, the review panel said it could not verify that the scientific evidence provided to the E.F.S.A. related to the claim.

In an interview with Food Business News, Matthias Moser, a member of the executive board for Beneo GMBH, Obrigheim, Germany, said the review process allows companies to demonstrate the strength of their claims.

“We have a track record of sound science,” he said. “As long as you have the data to support your claim, and we do, then you are in a comfortable place.”

Scanning the exhibit hall

During Fi Europe, Beneo launched the Beneo-Institute, an entity that will act as an advisory group for customers and partners through the entire product development process, from ingredient approval, nutritional composition and physiological effects to communications and labeling questions. The new institute will give the company’s customers access to three business units: Beneo-Orafti,

Beneo-Palatinit and Beneo-Remy. It will focus on the nutritional topics of weight management, digestive health, physical and mental performance, the effects of a low-glycemic diet on healthy eating and disease prevention, and dental health.

“Our customers and partners will benefit from the research being carried out into functional ingredients and the increasing detailed knowledge about these ingredients,” said Yves Servotte, executive board member of Beneo. “The transformation of this knowledge into dossiers for substantiation of claims and sound interpretation

of regulatory challenges will add value and ultimately improve the efficiency of the development of new products.”

Dow Wolff Cellulosics Food & Nutrition, Horgen, Switzerland, introduced a Methocel gluten replacer, a plant-based ingredient, during the show. The product has been shown to provide moistness throughout a product’s shelf life, prevent collapse during baking and avoid the gas or bloating effects associated with other sources of fiber, according to Dow Wolff Cellulosics.

Gerard Ladner, a chef who formerly worked in research and development for Nestle, demonstrated the gluten replacer during the show.

“I’m amazed by this new solution,” he said. “It adds unique properties and outstanding performance to gluten-free foods. Finally we are able to create quality gluten-free foods that also taste great.”

Kemin Industries, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, launched NaturFort, a combination of rosemary and green tea that has been shown to retain flavor and color in meat.

“Kemin food scientists discovered that this unique combination curbs lipid extract in fresh meat and preserves the red color of meat better than rosemary or green tea alone,” said Alex Fink, marketing director for Kemin Food Technologies. “Additionally, this natural, versatile product has a low flavor profile, allowing for optimal taste with high application rates.”

Kemin agronomists have propagated and refined a proprietary variety of rosemary and patented an extraction method. The company is in a strategic partnership with India-based AVT, which grows green tea for Kemin and supplies an extract for use in food products.

Tying into the clean label trend, Kalsec was exhibiting its Herbalox Seasoning XT. The ingredient offers shelf life enhancement while limiting the flavors imparted by antioxidants.

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