Fruit powders, plum, Sunsweet
Plum powder may act as a mild flavoring agent, help with caramelization and aid in digestive health.

Next-level nutrition

The growing need for clean label products is a broad demand but a real one. Clean label products have been the biggest growth drivers of the packaged food and beverage industry in the past five years, according to Nielsen. Fruit powders may help slim down ingredient labels and increase wellness claims as they are natural and retain many of their built-in health advantages.

“Fruit powders have been used in baked goods for quite some time,” said Brigham Sikora, research, development and applications director of bakery for Kerry. “The innovation we are seeing currently and some of the uses we are trying to explore are using our vegetable and fruit powders to add claims of servings of fruits or vegetables in the final product. In some cases, we are also able to label just the fruit or vegetable in the ingredient declaration with no other additives."

Kerry’s portfolio of powders includes a range of fruits, vegetables and specialty varieties such as Honey, Maple Syrup and Balsamic Vinegar. The powders have been applied to cookies, muffins and donuts as an added health component.

“Traditionally, fruit powders have been used in bakery items to add flavor and in some cases color,” Mr. Lutomski said. “But recent trends look for more than just taste, color and ease-of-use; these trends are looking for ingredients with inherent functional benefits and clean labels.”

The advantages of produce powders may be seen in scientific studies as well as consumer trends. For example, a 2016 study performed at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center involving adults who had mild cognitive impairment — a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease — revealed that participants given the powdered equivalent of a cup of blueberries vs. a placebo powder had improved cognitive performance and brain function compared with those who took the placebo. The blueberry group also demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts. As these studies reveal health benefits, powders instead of other fillers could be used to leverage these research-based claims and target consumers searching for specific benefits.

Fruit powder, Concord grape, Welch's
Fruit and vegetable powders are easy to apply, making production more efficient and less costly.

Welch’s Concord Fruit Powder is packed with a wide variety of polyphenols. The polyphenols found in Concord grapes have been shown to help support a healthy heart, and early research indicates they also provide enhanced cognitive function. The powder format has a denser concentration of the polyphenols, allowing it to have a real effect on products.

“The baker will need to determine what claims they are comfortable making, but Welch’s will gladly share its research to help our customer make that decision,” Mr. Lutomski said.

Another factor to consider is the growing desire among millennials for snacks featuring minerals, nutrients and vitamins.

Millennials are more likely than older generations to buy snacks with added nutritional benefits such as high fiber, energizing claims or protein content, according to a report by Mintel called “Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015." 

Kate Leahy, spokesperson for Sunsweet Ingredients, said Sunsweet’s new Dried Plum Powder’s most common use so far has been in bars with a health positioning. The powder, composed of 99% dried prune plums, imparts the digestive benefits found in prunes and contains high levels of powerful antioxidants. The powder may be used in place of flaxseed, rice bran or citrus fiber for boosting fiber content, she said. It may also replace 50% of inulin or maltodextrin allowing for reductions in sugar and salt.

FutureCeuticals offers manufacturers the ability to deliver a clean label with substantiated U.S.D.A. serving claims through its line of TruServ Organic Whole Food Powders, which offer fruit and vegetable serving claims based on U.S.D.A. My Plate. Each claim has been verified by FutureCeuticals’ exclusive method of validation that connects its extensive production data and the U.S.D.A. Nutritional database.

“The goal is to deliver clean, whole food ingredients while offering customers the convenience of real food as well as having the confidence that it can be substantiated on the label,” said Andrew Wheeler, marketing director for FutureCeuticals.